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10 Things Every Traveler Should Be Thankful For

Whether you’re traveling home or traveling abroad for the holidays, count your blessings.

By Courtney Guth, University of Maryland

When the holidays are upon us it means  it’s time for frantic trips to the mall or late nights in the library preparing for finals. It also may mean preparing to pack up and head home as your semester abroad draws to a close. With so much going on, it’s easy to lose the holiday spirit. Sure, studying for exams, finding the perfect gift for your roommate, or trying to squeeze everything in your suitcase before you go home are all important tasks, but this is also the time of year to pause and reflect on why you’re thankful. So take a study/packing break or kill some time waiting in line and count your blessings before the year draws to a close.

Everyone has something to be grateful for, and here just are a few things to give thanks for as student world travelers

The Chance to Get Away: Not everyone is lucky enough to have the chance to see the world. Some people never even make it outside their hometown. If you’re able to study abroad or find time to travel over break or holiday, make the most of it. Don’t take these opportunities for granted. Travel young and travel often. Whether you visit one country or one hundred, cherish those experiences for all they are worth.

A Durable Bag: If you travel a lot, there’s one essential that should be on everyone’s list–a good travel bag. Tote, backpack, purse, or duffel bag…as long as it gets you from one destination to the other, it’s worth the investment. It’s wise to travel lightly, but sometimes overpacking happens. That’s why your bag has got to be durable and trustworthy. When you have a bag that is trustworthy and has been through it all, it definitely becomes special to you.

Maps and Apps: Without a guide-map or helpful app, you’d literally be lost. It’s okay to take some time to explore your foreign destination and wander from the path, but when you need to return to the hostel or grab a bite to eat, these two are there for you. Maps will get you home, and apps will get you everywhere else. Yelp and Foodspotting are great for finding local places to dine. Kayak is great for a last minute trip and place to stay. As the commercial says, no matter what you’re trying to do abroad “there’s an app for that.”

Amazing Views: One of the most exciting parts of going abroad is seeing everything in person. Sure, you’ve seen the pyramids of Egypt in textbooks, but you can’t truly appreciate their massive size until you feel minuscule in their presence. Almost every movie that takes place in Paris shows the Eiffel tower from a window… just wait until you witness its beauty with your own eyes. Stand on the edge of the Cliffs of Moher and look out at the vast Atlantic Ocean, and you’ll probably leave a changed person.

Taking in the amazing view at the Cliffs of Moher

Cameras: Yes witnessing amazing views is all part of the experience of being abroad, but remember, “pics or it didn’t happen.” Having a camera abroad allows you to capture memories and share them with friends and family back home. Whether you’re using a fancy shmancy DSLR, a basic point and shoot, or even your phone, you’ve got to save your memories. Definitely take time to enjoy just being abroad, and don’t live your trip through your lens, but do take pictures when you can.

    Free Wi-Fi: Being abroad is a time to get away from the computer screen and live in the moment, but sometimes you need to check in. Free Wi-Fi is a godsend when you’re abroad. Most hostels offer it, but sometimes things get iffy. When I was abroad, our hostel lost Wi-Fi for at least two days. I once went to a pub for a glass of wine, but mostly to use their internet. Not exactly free, but you take what you can get.

    Inishmor Temple, Aran Islands

    Traveling Companions: There’s a certain value in traveling alone, but it’s great traveling with friends or classmates as well. Make sure you appreciate them. Chances are you’re living in close quarters and getting to know each other very well. The people you go abroad with can become some of the best friends you make during your time in college. You may not stay as close when you return, but you’ll always share the bond of experiencing something so wonderful together.
    Solo Time: Sometimes you do just need to get away from the group. Relish your time that you have to yourself. It can be time you spend in a secret spot of the hostel reflecting in your journal or time spent wandering around the city. Make the most of this time as you learn to grow and be independent in a foreign country. Studying abroad changes people, and a lot of that comes from personal reflection.

    University of Maryland Student Study Abroad in Ireland

    Good Food and Great Drinks: Another great part of studying abroad is experiencing the culture of your location. I think we can all agree that one of the best parts of culture is food and drinks. Try something classic. Try something crazy. You may not have the opportunity to try it ever again. Maybe you’ll find a dish you like enough to bring back home for the holidays if you’re lucky enough to find the recipe. But let’s be honest, it will never be as good as it is abroad, so enjoy the food and drink abroad for all they’re worth.
    Coming Home: Yes it’s cliche, but there’s no place like home. There’s something so lovely about finally stepping of the plane or train and seeing your family or those close to you waiting for you when you arrive. You’ve got to be thankful for all you experienced while you were abroad, but you should also thank those who waited patiently for you to return.

So remember, take time this holiday season to not only remember the reasons you’re thankful as a traveler but also to reflect on everything you’re grateful for. Have a happy holiday season!

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