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* A 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… 🙂

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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.