Travel Life Lessons: First Day Of School Edition

It’s that time of year again. We’re in the final days of August, so crisp breezes and falling leaves are right around the corner. But even though summer doesn’t officially end until late September, I’ve always felt that the lazy days of beach fun and vacations end as soon as we see those yellow school buses back on the roads. When school starts, no matter what the actual date is, summer is over.

So since most of us are either back in school (or will be soon), I started to think about how I used to feel on those nervous first-days-of-school. It’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with first day butterflies, but I remember it well. The carefully planned outfits, designed to be cool but not look like you’re trying too hard. The nervous phone calls to my friends to see if we shared any classes, or (hopefully) the same lunch period. I remember that feeling that everything might be different this year, and wondering how everyone else had changed in the three months since I’d last seen them.

I’ve learned a lot since those days, and most of the important lessons I’ve learned have been from traveling. So, in honor of new beginnings and the new school year, I made a list of life lessons inspired by my travels. If I could go back in time and give my school-age self some advice, here’s what I’d say:

Things will go wrong: It’s pointless to get angry or curse the gods. Actually, a 2 minutes rage attack where you scream at the top of your lungs can sometimes be incredibly therapeutic. But after those 2 minutes are up, figure out your next course of action and leave the anger behind. It’s all about how you deal with things. Whether it’s a lunch period with no friends or a lost piece of luggage, the most important part of a situation is how you react to it.

Leave room for spontaneity: If you’re not careful, you can schedule the fun out of every day. Embrace those happy accidents, whether it’s missing a train (you have more time to explore the city you’re stuck in!) or having to find a new partner in gym class (an opportunity to make a new friend!). You never know where it’ll lead you.

This too shall pass: A lot of people find this comforting when they’re going through a hard time, but I think it’s just as important to remember when you’re having the best day ever. Those perfect days, when the sun is shining and your hair looks great and you’re hanging out with your favorite person in the world, won’t last forever. So pause and appreciate the complete happiness of the moment, as it’s becoming a memory.

Kindness is key:  Whether you’re asking for directions or taking a minute to talk to the new kid in school, kindness can help you as much as it helps the recipient of your thoughtfulness. You can never have too many friends, because you never know when you’ll need them. Which leads me to…

Appreciate the true friends you have: Even when you’re getting on each other’s nerves after backpacking together for a month, you’ve shared experiences that only the two of you will ever understand. You have their back, and they have yours. Being there for each other is the only way to get through the bad times, and to share the good times.

What words of advice would you offer?

Tweet me! @StephSpitler

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