What you can expect when traveling outside the U.S.

Last month, while sharing my international travel plans with a friend, she asked, “Aren’t you afraid to leave the United States?”

I have never considered this question before. Seeing the world is exhilarating to me. Instead of bungee jumping or gambling, I enjoy the adrenaline rush of traveling.

Are there scary places in this world? Absolutely. I recommend setting boundaries for yourself anytime you travel, even in your state. For example, never go anywhere alone in unfamiliar locations. With caution and wise decisions, you can experience a variety of beautiful people and breathtaking places.

In the past month, I have visited four countries. During my travels, I paid attention to what I felt and experienced. Here is what you can expect if you venture to other worlds.

You will have experiences different than what you already know. These experiences will include the culture, language, food, climate, animals and vegetation, to name a few. You will notice everything different than your neighborhood.

I love and appreciate nature, especially sunrises, sunsets, different types of trees and vegetation. While in Papua New Guinea, I saw a unique cluster of palm trees. They were not manicured and landscaped perfectly around a resort. This forest of palm trees was growing randomly in large quantities, similar to forests of evergreen trees I am familiar with in upper Wisconsin. There is creative beauty in the communities, away from tourist locations.

Your knowledge will increase when you travel. I was a good student in grade school; however, I only remembered historical details long enough to pass a test.

Now that I have traveled to Mexico, I can tell you more about Mayan history than what I learned in school. Did you know that the archaeological site of Tulum was not the original name for that city? The ancient city’s name was Zama. Tulum means “wall” in the Mayan language. The Spanish explorers renamed the location to define the wall that surrounds the city.

You will encounter challenges and surprises that might trigger your fears. You might have flight delays. Or you might cross paths with a moose while walking a trail in Sweden. (Moose are not as friendly as they look. You want to stay out of their way.) Or you might get on a bus in London and realize a few blocks later that it is going in the opposite direction of where you want to go. (I now understand why people walk around looking at Google Maps.) Or the waitress in Mexico might not understand you when you ask if she found your lost water canisters (thank goodness for Google translate to bridge the language gap).

You cannot prepare for all of the challenges and surprises that you might encounter; however, you can prepare your mindset before leaving the country. Always be on alert, be smart and expect change. Be ready to be a problem-solver.

You will gain a greater appreciation for what you are familiar with and your community. While away, I missed the familiarity of my city. I missed my daily routine. I missed Chai tea lattes and iced tea. I missed my country and my home and my puppies, Oskee and Simba.

It is marvelous to be on vacation and it is just as wonderful to get back home. After being home for two hours, I am experiencing a new adrenaline rush. The laundry is overflowing, the mail is piled on the counter and my puppies have exhausted me.

It feels good to be amongst my normal again. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.