Travel – Five Lessons in Contentment Learned in Europe

I am slightly obsessed with traveling.

I went to Europe for the first time last summer, and quickly fell in love. I tried to travel with a group, but found that I preferred the freedom of traveling alone, quickly moving from city to city yet wandering slowly through each one. When I travel, I don’t think about my emails to check, my errands to run – I am in the present moment. In Europe I learned to roam, without a map, down narrow streets various stones, marbles, and brick while gazing upon the ornate architecture of the classical, renaissance, and baroque periods. When I travel, I move as I wish, I sit as a wish, I stop to write or take pictures only when I feel like it – I am free. My decision making process is nothing more than asking myself if I am really ready to leave or if I would like to stay, and deciding. I trust my intuition – I lead with my heart and I find myself meeting those that I feel I was supposed to meet and discovering places I feel I was supposed to discover.

I trust myself.

And trust me, I work to incorporate these mentalities into my daily life.

However, yesterday I got to rediscover World Traveler Amanda. I found myself on the most perfect short stay in Germany on the way to Israel. I exited the plane, took a train and attempted to wander. My plan to explore, discover and enjoy. However, as I tried to do these things, found it was difficult to sit still, to relax, to get lost in the beauty  – I found myself worrying about where I would go next, how long I would stay, and what I would miss if I made the wrong turns.

Thankfully, if you focus only on the good in the present moment, you can ALWAYS relax. As I breathed in the culture, I breathed out my distress. As I looked around, I thought more about what I saw and less about what I needed to see.  As I asked locals questions, I cared more experiencing their culture and felt less caught up in the fast paced mentalities of my home. As I moved around, I was only aware what there was to experience right there and less about what I could experience if I went somewhere else. As I sat and ate, I let go of the errands and emails. I decided it was okay if I missed the living social deal or didn’t return those forever 21 shorts in time to get a smaller size. I sipped espresso. I ate gelato. I relaxed. As I moved and sat and slept and prayed, I found myself again – I am just a girl who wants to see the world. And for me, that doesn’t mean show up and take a picture and leave, I have to take it all in. As I came into my back-packing, low-maintenance, traveling self again, I recognized me and quickly I remembered all I had learned the first time I traveled alone so far away.

You don’t have to be in Europe for this to get present and relax.


In the spirit of finding yourself, enjoying your life, and learning as you go. . .

Five lessons I learned in Europe that will bring contentment to your life:


{one} Eat slowly. In Europe, dinner can take up to three hours. You have to ask for your check. You sip wine every meal. You taste every single bite of food. You delight in the food, the scenery, the conversation. Slow down, breathe deeply, relax :).

{two}  Enjoy everything. I think sometimes in my busy life, I look around, but I don’t see anything. Here, the culture is one of enjoying yourself. People watching, wine sipping, picnicking, strolling, and doing nothing are all acceptable pass-times. Yes, I said it: it’s okay to do absolutely nothing. In fact I think it’s quite possible to find a great deal of peace when you accept yourself, your worth, and your life while doing absolutely nothing. There is contentment to be found in the space between the busy moments.

{three} The world is good. There is only one language – and it’s not English. While traveling, I am amazed at the kindness of people. The automatic knowing of I-take-a-picture-for-you-you-take-a-picture-for-me custom, of no-I don’t-speak-English-but-that-guy-does assistance, the hey-you-dropped-your-sweater-here-you-go mentality. Every city I’m in, I have a thousand and one experiences with someone without exchanging words. I find myself believing that humans are innately good after all.

{four} Move. Use your legs to get where you need to go as often as you can. Walk across the parking lot instead of drive, walk the block, walk while catching up with a friend, bike to work, etc. It slows you down, helps you relax, and increases your overall health.

  • ((On a side-note: If you walk/bike everywhere, you can live on gelato, pasta, wine, and espresso and not get fat. Okay so I kind of am lying, I also ate some fruit, but I am telling you, I was in Italy a month, I ate tons of the above, I walked every day, I only worked out 3 times the entire month and I LOST 3 Pounds. We can only do so much about our packaged foods and dependency on cars so I’ll just say the principal is: exercise + fresh food = healthy.))

{five} You deserve it. It’s so funny that when I tell Europeans my love and aspirations for traveling the overwhelming reaction is, “Good for you! See the world!!” In America, I regularly get responses along the lines of: “When will you start your career? What about having kids?  What about your responsibilities? What is it you do for a living again?” Let’s not let the mentalities of others stop us from doing the things we love. I believe there are plenty of time to add more responsibility to my life, right now I consider it my job to fulfill my dreams :)

Love your life. Follow your heart. Dream. (And in my opinion) Travel.

Wishing you the best in your journey.