[G]o ahead. Ask someone who has had the opportunity to travel. For those who delight in traveling, they can wholeheartedly agree about the life lessons gleaned as a result of wanderlust.

Traveling, whether for business or leisure is an unsuspecting culprit toward expanding the way you think.

When you reflect on your travel experiences, you may uncover a life lesson or an idea that can inspire you to design a life you love.

I first got bit by the travel bug as a teenager.

My high school sweetheart Sam (now hubby) and I enjoyed our very first official vacation at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

This vacation is burned into my memory as a truly magical time.

Prior to this, the only vacations I knew of were flying to Barbados to visit relatives, taking the Greyhound bus to Toronto, Canada to visit more relatives, or being shipped off to Queens, New York to spend the summer with my cousins.

Sam’s vacation experience was similar as a kid. He loves sharing memories of his visits to Brooklyn to visit his cousins, whom I affectionately refer to as the New York Greens.

Yes, the Connecticut side of the family bought the extra “E” from Vanna.

Other fond memories of his were visiting his grandparents and cousins ‘down-south’ which refers to Aiken, South Carolina.

You can understand how excited we were to be going to Disney world and getting our first resort experience.

But now, after several repeat visits, I’m afraid the mouse and I will have to part ways.

Many decades later, wanderlust still lives in my soul. There are always new people to meet, new places to explore, and favorite places to return to that you fell in love with.

What I’ve learned is that travel can be a metaphor for LIFE.

The world of travel offers plenty of opportunities for growth and presents possibilities and challenges to contribute your special gifts and talents to the world.

A mind shift occurs!

I’d like to share one of my favorite quotes from fellow Hartford resident and author, Mark Twain.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

I sincerely believe this as it can expand the way you think by making you aware the world does not revolve around you.

With that being said, here are 33 life and marriage lessons, in no particular order, I learned from traveling.

1. It’s All Small Stuff

Here’s the thing. While we’re in an undesirable situation, it feels as if the situation will overtake us.

If you shift your perspective and ask yourself if this will really matter in 10 years and the answer is no, then let it go.

Look at the situation for what it is and don’t give it any additional fuel and blow it out of proportion. Remember, that everything in life is temporary.

2. Go With the Flow

Regardless of how meticulous your plans are (travel related or not), here’s something you can count on.

Things MAY not turn out as you expected.

Realize you can’t control everything. When you muster up the courage to release your ICF (inner control freak), you can loosen up and enjoy the journey and the destination as well.

There’s a saying that goes like this:

We make plans and God laughs.

3. We’re All The Same

If you’re ever ventured to countries other than the one you live in, you will see that people all over the world basically have the same physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

I’m going to go out on limb and assume that regardless of where you live in the world, you want to be happy, enjoy good health, have a marriage that works, fulfilling relationships and enough money to provide for you and your family and give to charity.

Isn’t that wonderful you have something in common with virtually everyone in the world?

I think so.

4. You Can’t Control People

When you get this life lesson, it will have a huge difference on how you live your life.

You can’t control people. Or their emotions. And their actions, no matter how much you desire to.

When people show you who they are through their words and actions, accept it.

The only person you can control is YOU.

5. Live In The Now Lane

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “slow down and smell the roses”.

You don’t have to feel obligated to go on vacation and spend thousands of dollars to enjoy a beautiful sunrise, sunset or anything else for that matter.

Stop waiting for a future that may never arrive.

Call the ghost busters and eliminate the ghosts whose goal is to steal your future.

Give gratitude and be thankful for the small things in your life.

6. Happiness Is A Choice

Most people feel that happiness is a pursuit. They think it is something to go after zealously and methodically.

After all, Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a well known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence.

My husband Sam is one of the happiest people I know. On occasion, I enviously call him “Sammy Sunshine”.

When I asked him the secret to his happiness, his reply was: “I choose to be happy”.

There’s no doubt about it. We all want to be happy.

However, what most of us don’t realize is that you must choose to be happy.

Without this choice, you can be in one of the most idyllic places in the world or living a life some consider a dream and still be downright miserable.

Happiness may find you when you work to make others happy – it’s a byproduct.

This is one of the greatest life lessons I’ve learned and implemented in my life.

7. Take 100% Personal Responsibility

How often do you blame someone for something that has happened to you?

Maybe you blamed the long lines at the security checkpoint as the reason you missed your flight.

But was it really the long lines?

Sometimes it’s easy to find a scapegoat rather than take the reins and take personal responsibility.

Choose to quit playing the blame game, step up and regain control of your life and marriage.

8. Respect Other Cultures

Traveling has a way of exposing us to other cultures, whether we travel internationally or not.

Just because a group of people don’t look, talk, dress or act the way you do is no reason to look down on them and take a holier-than-thou attitude.

They may also think you’re weird as well!

A genuine smile is a true international ice-breaker and can open the doors to some of the most amazing experiences you’ll ever have.

9. Fear Will Never Go Away

Many people think that if they muster up enough will-power, fear will go away.

They think that if they are unafraid, then one day they’ll magically have the courage from the Wizard of Oz to be a solo traveler and backpack through India or do whatever it is they want.

Not!

If you’re waiting for your fear to subside, you could be waiting a lifetime.

We all need fear in healthy doses, but you don’t have to let fear cripple you.

Do what you’re afraid of, EVEN though you are afraid.

Don’t permit fear to hold you hostage from doing the things you want and creating the marriage you’ve always wanted.

10. Civility Goes A Long Way

Something as simple as “PLEASE” and “THANK YOU” goes a long way.

You don’t have to like everyone you meet, but you can be a travel ambassador by being diplomatic to your fellow Earth travelers.

11. Forget What Others Think About You

What other people think about you is their business, not yours.

Do not give anyone the power to make you feel bad or good.

As a flight attendant, this was one of my most challenging life lessons.

Realistically, there will always be people who simply don’t like your mannerisms, the way you look, speak or anything else.

It’s easy to take it personally and allow it to upset you.

Then one day I realized that this person, who doesn’t know me from Eve was pulling my strings like a puppet.

That’s when I decided NOT to let what others think about me have power over me.

I realize this lesson can be a challenge to implement, but think of it as a work in progress.

As they say in New York — FUGGEDABOUTIT!

12. Imagine Your Possibilities

I always say that imagination is a tragedy of adulthood.

It seems that when we cross the bridge from childhood to adulthood our imagination suitcase gets ‘lost’.

It’s time to RECAPTURE your imagination and imagine what is possible for you and your hubby.

This is the moment where the journey begins to make your heart’s desires a reality.

Virtually everyone that embarks on a trip around the world always has this initial thought.

They say to themselves, “I wonder what it would be like to go on an around the world trip”.

The journey of a million miles or your around-the-world trip first starts with your imagination.

So does the journey toward a successful marriage.

Reclaim it.

13. There’s No Place Like Home

If you’ve ever seen the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’, (one of my favorites by the way), Dorothy Gale hit the nail on the head.

Although she’d traveled to the marvelous land of Oz, she realized in the end, ‘there’s no place like home’.

No matter where you go, the sweetest destination is ‘home’.

14. Your Beliefs Shape Your Experience

This is a statement I heard on a tele-seminar several years ago.

It stated, we don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.

Basically, we see the world through a ‘me-filter’.

This filter is made up of our beliefs, experiences and expectations.

An amazing vacation or paradise for another couple can basically be hell for you and hubby.

This is why what we believe to be true about the world shapes how we see the world.

Change your filter and you change your life.

15. Expiration Dates Are Unknown

Are you living your life  as though you have a guarantee of a certain amount of days?

No one has an expiration date stamped on their big toe!

It’s up to YOU to make the time you have count and stop waiting for ‘someday’ to fix everything.

As we start to accrue more candles on our birthday cake, we think the best experiences of our lives are behind us.

Banish the thought right now.

Commit to making the best experiences of your life ahead of you and not behind you.

Get out of the ‘used-to-be-club’ and live your life in the now lane.

16. Don’t Give Up Hope

Hope is the glue that helps us to continue on, even when we feel down in the dumps.

Without it, life can seem like an infinite cloudy day.

I believe hope is something that is missing in most ‘responsible’ adults’ lives.

We let our personal history act as a crystal ball to predict how our life will be.

Don’t fall into this trap.

Hope springs eternal.

Conclusion

I would love if you could share some of YOUR life lessons gleaned as a result of traveling.

It could be a week in the woods, or a year in the Amazon, or a week partying in Cancun.

You can find part 2 here.