I benefited so much from joining the Army! I learned a lot, including 5 things that made me a better traveler.

5 Ways Being In The Army Made Me A Better Traveler

Joining the Army was the best decision I ever made. It taught me a lot about myself and although I didn’t realize it at the time, it prepared me to be a better traveler.

The Army Made Me A Better Traveler

I spent eight years in the US Army. During that time, I learned a lot and it molded me into the person I am today. I’ve always loved to travel, but those years in the Army really prepared me for all of the travel I would be doing in the future. Below are five ways being in the Army made me a better traveler…

In The Army You Meet All Kinds Of People

During my time in the Army, I met people from all over the US and from other nationalities. I got to know people that lived in tiny towns and rode their horses to school. I met people that grew up on islands.

I became friends with people that were military brats and were used to moving every few years. I became friends with people that, before joining the Army, had never left their home town.

I came across many personalities and a lot of different family dynamics. And all those experiences prepared me to meet people from all different cultures and societies, without being closed minded or judgmental.

Vicky and waiter laughing in Bali
Crackin’ jokes in Bali

The Army Taught Me To Speak Up

Those that know me from back when I was a kid, know that I hardly ever spoke. I was incredibly shy and only opened up to a few close friends. The Army changed that. I was forced to come out of my shell and literally, use my “outside voice.”

I still wouldn’t consider myself an extrovert, but I feel comfortable enough that I can start a conversation with a stranger. That is a skill that comes in handy when you’re traveling, especially when you’re traveling by yourself.

If my flight’s been delayed, I can start up a conversation with the couple next to me about which airlines have been their biggest disappointments. If I find out a fellow blogger is in town, I will contact them and figure out when we can meet up for a bite to eat.

Those were all things I was too scared to do before the Army.

We met up with Meg from Mapping Megan
We met up with Meg from Mapping Megan

Being A Leader *And* AΒ Follower

Sometimes you have to know when to take charge. And sometimes you have to know when to hold back.

Have you ever been in a group with too many Type A personalities? Everyone’s trying to take charge and make their opinion seem more important than the others. It’s a mess, so I won’t add to the chaos.

Sometimes you just have to trust and have faith that someone else might know a little bit more than you do or that they might have more experience.

So if need be, I can be the one to guide a group of fellow travelers but I also know how to let go of the reins.

Following the crowd (in Dublin)
Following the crowd (in Dublin)

Pushing Myself Physically

I hate to sweat. Hate it. I’ve never liked running or working out. But guess what? When you’re in the Army, you kinda gotta do it. Even though I was never the best at the physical stuff, I did realize that I could push myself and do more than I ever thought I could.

So when I travel and see a flight of stairs with a gazillion steps, I’m not thrilled, but I know I can handle it because I’ve handled much worse. Walking all day? Psh. No biggie. Carrying a heavy backpack? I’ve carried heavier. Whenever I hear others moaning and complaining, I just stay quiet and keep going because I know I can take it.

Vicky and Buddy on the Piestewa Peak summit
Hiking in Phoenix to the Piestewa Peak summit

Being Flexible

This is probably the most important thing I learned from my time in the Army. Things hardly ever go as planned so you have to be able to adapt. Always have a back up plan. I think I’m slightly OCD when it comes to planning. But I also recognize that it can all go to shit. Quickly.

So when that happens, don’t freak out! Figure out another way. When your flight is canceled due to fog, you run your ass to the rental car booth so you’re the first one in line. When the friend you’re traveling with decides they want to shack up with a local, change your day’s activity to something they hadn’t wanted to see anyways.

When you’re flexible, the possibilities are endless!

Being in the Army taught me a lot
Being in the Army taught me a lot

Final Thoughts On How The Army Made Me A Better Traveler

So there you have them; the five ways being in the Army made me a better traveler. Those years I spent in the Army weren’t always easy, but they were definitely worth it.

Have you or someone you know been in the military? What’s made you a better traveler? I’d love to read your comments below… πŸ™‚

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I benefited so much from joining the Army! I learned a lot, including 5 things that made me a better traveler.

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41 Comments

  1. The Marines taught me how to sleep anywhere.

  2. Karla Clemons says:

    All true!!!!! I’m so jealous of your travels!!!! If you ever need a travel buddy, let me know!!!!

    1. Aww thank you Karla! I’ll let you know! πŸ™‚

  3. Great post Vicky! Well I’m glad that you did speak up and reach out recently, because it was lovely meeting you!

    1. Thanks Meg! It was great meeting you too! πŸ™‚

  4. What a thoughtful post, Vicky. I’m so glad I’ve met you! Can’t wait to be back to Miami & we can do some local exploring together πŸ™‚

    XX
    G.

  5. What a wonderful post, Vicky. If anything can change you, it’s being in the service! I’m so glad it’s taught you so many things that you’ve applied to travel.

    I hope our paths will cross, one day. Whenever you’re in Sydney, let me know!

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words Stephen! And I will definitely let you know! πŸ™‚

  6. I have a lot of respect! So glad you learned these amazing things which you are now taking with you around the world. πŸ™‚ Looking forward to reading more posts!

    1. Thanks so much Laurie! I really appreciate that πŸ™‚

  7. Carol Colborn says:

    Can’t relate really but you look gorgeous in all the pics!!! Good for you!

  8. Speaking up is a big one for me. I was never in the military, but working for Disney in their theme parks really helped me come out of my shell. I too was very quiet growing up, and overcoming that was a huge help when traveling.

    1. Yes, speaking up is a must when you travel. Was it fun to work in the Disney parks?

  9. It’s great you recognize these things in yourself and can see the good in every situation. That is a very valuable quality to have.

  10. Lovely post, Vicky. I’ve never been in the army so I’ve never thought about these things but I’m glad you wrote this so I can learn about it.

    1. Thanks Ana! There are so many life situations that we learn from, these were just a few.

  11. Fantastic post! I’ve never read one like it before πŸ™‚ I can definitely see how being in the army has made you such a great and strong traveler!

  12. That was really interesting to read. I know travel changes you, but I’ve rarely thought about the life experiences that change the way we travel! I can’t believe some people ride horses to school, thats so cool haha ^_^

  13. These are all great skills – and important ones.
    Just started reading your blog -I love it already!

  14. I guess I’m similar like you although I was never in the military. Never was an extrovert but I learned all of the above from when I first started travelling solo around Europe for about 1.5 months at the age of 21. I guess I just had to learn and adapt with all kinds of situations at the time. These days I still consider myself as an introvert but not when I’m on the road πŸ™‚

    1. Isn’t it funny how we can adapt to whatever situation we’re in?

  15. Even though I haven’t been in the military, I see how much you’ve learned from it and how valuable it has been to your travels. My former work in theatre has done the same thing. I have to learn to improvise, be on the move to get things done, and be both in charge and willing to follow. I’m glad you’ve found such great value in your past and how it’s developed your future!

  16. I had the pleasure of knowing many military personnel over the years from all four branches, from the reserves all the way up to a four-star NCO general in pretty much all kind of environment outside of a military environment.

    What I have noticed is that more often than not, espically after leaving the service, these five traits you have picked up as well other skills, do eventually pave the way later in life to other opportunities.

    Looking back, I can’t say with 100 percent conviction but one thing I have noticed about military folks is that they are more respectful towards others, especially people with disabilities than those who have not served. I could be wrong here but for some reason, I don’t think I am. It might have something to do with a sense of kinship in “pushing the envelope” to a degree.

    1. Thank you so much for this Mark. Your observations make me very proud of my fellow veterans and I only hope that we continue to leave such good impressions on you and everyone else.

  17. Brother Rod says:

    Nice article, I learned a lot about traveling by being a missionary. Love meeting people from all over the world. And sleeping in some crazy places including an old morgue in Mexico. Yep, and it was in the same compound as an insane asylum. Travel is awesome isn’t it.
    God bless you Vicky. Travelin’ mercies to ya.

    1. Travel really is awesome Rod! Thank you for sharing your story. πŸ™‚

  18. Definitely agree, as an ex soldier myself the training certainly gives you the self confidence to be comfortable in any situation and take everything travel throws at you in your stride. Hope I get spend some time on the road with you at some point!

    1. Hey Michael! I didn’t realize you were in the military too! So glad you can relate to this post. πŸ™‚ And yes, hopefully our paths will cross one day!

  19. A good read. Nice to hear someone else say the same things I do. Happy Veterans Day.

  20. Great article! Being married to an Army retiree, my husband and I also talk about the fact that military folks tend to be more adventurous eaters, particularly if they’ve been stationed or traveled a lot OCONUS. Every time we order something like squid cooked in its own ink, we joke that we probably don’t know a single American civilian who would share our meal!

    1. Haha, good points! Being stationed overseas definitely forces you to go outside the box when it comes to a lot of things, especially food.

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