2016 Reflections of Gratitude

As much as I wanted to write about how travel has made me less materialistic this holiday season, I’m going into day four of my visit home for the holidays without having received my luggage (and being pretty upset about it), so that topic felt a bit like preaching from a soapbox.

Instead what I can focus on is how travel, particularly some of the trips I’ve done this year, have opened my eyes in some profound ways. Here’s how:

Realizing I have the “right” citizenship – I’ve lived my whole life taking for granted that I have a passport that makes it easy to travel to most places in the world.  What I don’t think I’ve reflected on till this year, however, is that not everyone has that accessibility. Case in point, one of my friends has had to go through a visa process twice this year to be able to travel with me. I’m grateful, but sometimes slightly embarrassed, that wherever we’ve traveled to has been more difficult for her to visit than me.

I’m able bodied – I’m generally healthy and have good mobility, which makes travel much easier. This year I started following Curb Free with Cory Lee, a wheelchair bound travel blogger, who really opened my eyes to the challenges that handicapped people face to travel. On a more personal level, my mom has difficulty walking long distances due to previous foot surgeries, so I’ve realized to be grateful that I can handle long walks and running.

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Hiking at Mount Floyen, Bergen, Norway

I have resources – Having resources to travel (money, time, etc) is not a given. I’m grateful that I’m in a position where I have discretionary income and vacation days to use to take trips.

Basic needs are universal– No matter who or where you are in the world, the most basic essential needs are safety, shelter, food, water, and love.

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Traditional Czech meal in Prague, Czech Republic

While realizing what I am grateful for is important, I also want to use my reflections to translate into action. Here’s a few ways I’m starting to do this – and I hope to continue to do more in 2017:

  • Donating to Syria through UNICEF – Basic needs are universal, and right now, the citizens of Syria don’t have them, so I’m doing what I can to help.
  • Donating to Nomadic Matt’s campaign FLYTE – FLYTE helps pay for underprivileged students to travel abroad, students that otherwise may not ever have the opportunity to travel outside their immediate area. During their trips, students are given a cultural understanding of their destination and often participate in volunteer work as well.
  • Awareness coverage on the blog – I recently connected with Houssaine, a disable tourist guide in Morocco, who was gracious enough to grant me an interview with him. Look for that coverage, as well as more awareness coverage, in early 2017.

What are you grateful for? What positive changes do you want to make in 2017?

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