Joining the Army was probably the best decision I’ve 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.
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 and also 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.
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 the 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. All things I was too scared to do before the Army.
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 have more experience. So if need be, I can be the one to guide a group but I also know how to let go of the reigns.
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.
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!
So there you have them; the five ways being in the Army made me a better traveler. 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… 🙂