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5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016

Travel broadens the mind, they say. Whoever ‘they’ are, they couldn’t be more right. Travel year 2016 taught me so much, not only about the destinations I explored, but also about myself.

It’s the time of the year when you can see all bloggers publishing lists of the destinations they visited in 2016, the highlights of their travel year, the best countries, the classiest restaurants, the best hotel beds and so on. In my case the past year was full of travel highlights, and I got to travel more than ever before. I’m lucky like that.

As I experienced so many fantastic moments during my travels last year, I realized even listing the highlights would make a 10,000 word blog post. I don’t want to underestimate any of my readers, but I doubt anyone would have enough time or interest to read the whole thing through.

Travel year 2016 gave me so much more than unforgettable experiences. Travel broadens the mind, they say, and whoever ‘they’ are, they couldn’t be more right. Travel year 2016 taught me so much, not only about the destinations I visited and explored, but also about myself.

That’s why, to celebrate the new year, I want to share with you 5 valuable lessons that travelling taught me in 2016. 5 main things how travel broadened my mind last year.

As I originally wrote this post in Finnish for Instagram Travel Thursday campaign, all the photos in this post have been featured on my Instagram during the travel year 2016.

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog

“Love nature, and nature will love you back” and “nature will take care of its own” were definitely among the valuable lessons travelling taught me in 2016.

1. I’m better off big cities

In 2016, I had the final lesson about how I feel travelling to metropolitan cities. I shouldn’t do that at all! On some level I already knew that – I’ve always loved nature and preferred quiet small towns over crowded cities, but now I feel that the older I get, the less I’m comfortable with metropolitan cities.

Nature and idyllic small towns, whose streets are whispering unique stories while walking along them, appeal to me the most. Even such small towns that on Finnish scale would be considered as big cities. Such as York in England, that despite of the population over 200,000 has a cozy, small-town feeling.

Those are the kinds of destinations where I’m really feeling happy.

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog
This January sunrise on top of Mäkrävaara Hill in Koli National Park was definitely worth freezing cold and rough climbing. It was -30 degrees, and we were climbing up the hill in unbroken snow after a sleepless night, and at some points I really wanted to cry. But once we reached the top, this view made it all go away. Nature will take care of its own.

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog
These are the kinds of destinations where I truly feel happy. Iceland was definitely one of the highlights of my travel year. Actually, it was one of the highlights of my travel life, and since this April trip I’ve been dreaming of another, a lot longer trip to the land of fire and ice.

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog
York in England is a city of thousands of stories. It’s a city that could be considered as a big city, at least on a Finnish scale, but it’s filled with small-town atmosphere. It’s a city where people politely wait until you’ve taken your photo, and apologize if they didn’t see you on time and stepped in front of your camera.

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog
I’ve never had a huge interest to travel to New York but for ‘family reasons’ it was one of the destinations I visited in 2016. It was the day 3 when it really hit me; An anxiety that was very difficult to get rid of. Even if you should never say never, I’m pretty sure this April trip to New York was my first and only one.

Stories related to this lesson learned:

Ye Olde York — City With A Small-town Feeling
I left my heart in Iceland, my mind and legs in New York
A Freezing Night in Koli National Park: Nice Try From a Wuss Hiker or an Unforgettable Extreme Experience?
Nature, Snow and Koli National Park – Finland, You’re So Beautiful You Don’t Even Need Editing!
A Little Paradise In Finnish Lapland: Rousingly Beautiful Särkitunturi Fell
When Sweden Rocked My World—Welcome to the Breathtaking Luppioberget

2. I’m a megalomaniac

I’m really bad at making travel plans, including the route when I’m about to start a road trip. I want to see absolutely everything, and at the same time I want to get to know to the place I visit with time. In addition to all this, I want to leave enough time for sudden, unplanned stops which quite often turn out to be the true highlights of the trip. When you only have a few days for the road trip, it’s quite obviously a mission impossible.

It happened on our four-day road trip in Iceland. It happened on our nine-day road trip in Wales and England. And I’m struggling with the same issue at this very moment when I’m trying to plan the route for our four-day road trip in Northern Ireland next month. Mission impossible indeed!

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog
It’s easy to get lost in schedule on a road trip. I could have sat down for several hours just to admire and enjoy this beautiful view somewhere in North Wales.

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog

In TheYorkshire Dales the view is different, but still breathtakingly beautiful. We drove through Yorkshire Dales National Park in July when we were driving from The Lake District to York.

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog

If someone says you can’t take a good picture through a car window, I say that person has never been to Iceland!

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog

Stories related to this lesson learned:

Tips For A Successful Road Trip In Iceland
Driving Through North Wales and England: Route, Highlights and Costs
The Lake District — The Most Beautiful Piece of England
Wonderful Waterfalls of North Wales: Conwy Falls & Swallow Falls
A Story About Sinful Nuns and Other Icelandic Folktales
Welcome to Lambastadir, a Dreamy Guesthouse In Iceland ♥
Road Trip in Iceland: Dwarf Cliffs and The Leaning Tower of Iceland

3. I don’t hate solo travel after all

I thought I hate travelling solo. Last year I learned it’s not entirely true. It turned out that I have previously travelled alone to wrong destinations!

I learned it in June when a lucky coincident (unlucky for my friend, though) took me and my kayak to the lighthouse island of Kylmäpihlaja for five beautiful days. Thanks to my nomadic kind of job it doesn’t make much difference whether I’m working with my laptop at home or in the fancy suite of a lighthouse hotel at the gate of the wide-open Bothnian Sea.

To be completely honest with you, I couldn’t get much work done that week. Even if the island is small, I managed to keep myself, my kayak and my camera extremely busy for the whole five days. During that trip I truly enjoyed being alone, even if I wouldn’t have minded having company either.

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog
This was the moment I realized that travelling alone isn’t so bad after all. I just need to travel solo to the right destination.

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog
Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog
In Kylmäpihlaja I got to admire the most stunning sunsets I’ve ever seen in my whole life. I enjoyed them even if I was alone.

In 2016, I also survived my solo road trip through Finland, all the way from my home town Rauma to Muonio in Lapland – and back! And I enjoyed every single moment. Although I wasn’t alone all the time; In Muonio I was accompanied by the staff of Harriniva Hotels and Safaris and two fellow travel bloggers, Gia and Lotta.

On the way back I got to know lovely Heidi from Aavasaksa Experience and I had a campervan date in Kalajoki with Rachel from Vagabondbaker.com and her spouse Chris.

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog
Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog
Even if I can’t any longer say I hate solo travel, I still enjoy the most when travelling with friends. I feel travelling is as its best once you get to share the unforgettable moments with people you love.

Stories related to this lesson learned:

Alone, together or together alone?
I Moved My Office To a Lighthouse
Coastal Road Trip Through Finland: The Highlights From South To North And Back!
Enjoy the cleanest air in the world! The most fun summer activities in Muonio
Expert tips for Aavasaksa, Finland: ‘Lapland is closer than you thought!’
Kalajoki Summer Nights

4. Even I sometimes forget to travel locally

I continuously remind other people how important it is to travel locally. If you can’t travel abroad, you’re guaranteed to have wonderful places near your home that you have never been to. Even if you should.

The truth is, even I sometimes forget to travel locally. Way too often.

I moved to Rauma in 2005, and I’ve lived here ever since despite of the 18 months I’ve been living abroad (one year in Spain and half a year in Germany). During 2016, I visited the first time ever the lighthouse island of Kylmäpihlaja, and explored properly the fortress island of Kuuskajaskari. During the past year I biked the first time to a place called Maanpää, that has been in the news here a lot (the paper mill wants to take over the spot and the locals heavily disagree, it’s a long story). I also biked for the very first time in my life to the nearby village of Eurajoki, to the spot where Liinmaa Castle once stood. Also, for the very first time in my life I hiked in Omenapuumaa (‘Apple Tree Land’), the most exotic nature reserve in my home town.

My new year’s resolution to all of you is to write a proper post about all the beautiful day trip destinations in Rauma area before summer. Funny but true, it’s quite difficult to find information about them – and how to get there – on your own.

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog

One of the most difficult moments in 2016 was to leave the lighthouse island of Kylmäpihlaja behind. Even if it’s located only 10 km towards to open sea from the coast of Rauma.

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog

I haven’t posted on Instagram any photos from the spot where Liinmaa Castle once stood, but I did post a photo from the journey.

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog

Maanpää is the most news-worthy day trip destination in Rauma, but it’s very difficult to find if you don’t know exactly where it is. Even if it’s located only 5 km away from my house.

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog

Omenapuumaa = ‘Apple Tree Land’ is the most exotic day trip destination and nature reserve in Rauma, at least by its name. I haven’t written a post about it yet, but I will.

Matkailu avartaa – mitä matkaiTravel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel bloglu opetti minulle itsestäni vuonna 2016 | Live now – dream later -matkablogi

Omenapuumaa nearly killed me! Well, not quite. But I had some troubles during my hike, as I found so many wild mushrooms that I couldn’t carry them all out of the forest, and I had several kilometers to the car. And I didn’t even go for mushrooms this time!

Stories related to this lesson learned:

Kylmäpihlaja Island – A Perfect Summer Destination In Rauma Archipelago
Rollerblading in Rauma – The Smoothest Summer Streets With a View
A New Toy in Town: Testing Poroholma Wakepark!
I Want My Coffee As I Want my Town – The Most Authentic Coffee Shop in Old Rauma
Being a tourist in my home town: visiting Rauma Maritime Museum
Kayaking trip around the Rauma archipelago

5. People DO matter

I’m an entrepreneur who works at home. Being home alone all day long sometimes feels… well, lonely. In 2016 I truly learned that sometimes I allow it to become too lonely. Even if I didn’t have to.

When working at home you’re at work all the time. Day and night. I might wake up in the middle of the night because I realize I have forgotten something important. And I can’t go back to sleep until I’ve fixed it. So I get up, go downstairs, open my laptop and sooner than I realize it’s already morning.

If my office was located 20 km away from home, I doubt I’d ever go there in the middle of the night. No way. I would go back to work the next morning humble as hell, apologize for my mistake and fix it as soon as possible.

But these two hobbies of mine, travelling and blogging, have again brought so many wonderful people in my life during the past year. And these people have taught me so much about myself and about the world around me.

One day in Iceland with locals Anna and her husband Gretar taught me more than 10 travel books about Iceland ever could. One tweet brought me together with a fellow blogger Terhi, who is an adult but looks at life with the eyes and enthusiasm of a child, and I love it (her blog is called ‘Endorphin Hunter’, but it’s in Finnish only). Terhi was a great support for me on an arctic sail in November, whenever I had no idea what to do and was standing on the deck with a finger in my mouth – just like a child.

And whenever I’m talking about friendships I’ve made through blogging, I can’t help mentioning a fellow blogger Teea, with whom I’ve again shared a hotel room god knows how many times during the past year. She’s a friend I got thanks to blogging in 2015, but it feels like we’ve known each other forever.

The greatest thing of all is, that in a couple of weeks the largest travel fair in the Nordics, MATKA Travel Fair will be held in Helsinki. And I already know in MATKA many more beautiful friendships will be born.

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog
Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog

Travel broadens the mind better than anything. Last year it taught me I don’t know anything about sailing! Luckily I had Terhi with me, who helped me through the arctic sail. Even if I never would have thought I’d be sailing with a snow brush…

Travel Broadens the Mind – 5 Things That Travelling Taught Me About Myself in 2016 | Live now – dream later travel blog

Teea has been my trusted travel companion ever since we met 1,5 years ago. In two weeks time we’ll be again sharing a hotel room for 3 nights, when we go together to the MATKA Travel Fair in Helsinki..

People DO matter. Because it’s the right people who make life worth living.

Stories related to this lesson learned:

The best way to explore Iceland: A day with a local – or let’s make it two!
Mayday, Beginner on Board! How First-Timer Survived Winter Sailing on the Baltic Sea?
What Happens After Living Abroad? When Everything Goes Well and Contact Won’t Be Lost

Do you agree with ‘travel broadens the mind’? What did travelling taught you in 2016?


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Saana

The girl behind the blog is a Finnish travel and outdoor enthusiastic with a huge passion for writing and fulfilling dreams. When I'm not abroad, I'm showing you the best of beautiful Finland. My heart lies in the archipelago of Satakunta and Rauma area in the South-West of Finland.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Oh absolutely!

    Last year, I got Email after Email from strangers worried about travelling to Germany, Poland, England and other European countries, due to the fear of terrorism.

    I learnt that my goal for 2017 is to abate that fear and to encourage anybody and everybody to travel without fear. I’ve also learnt that I still very much love academics and will probably apply to start a PhD at the end of the year!

    p.s. ‘Love your photographs and the insight of your own self-discovery. 🙂
    Victoria @The British Berliner recently wrote…How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Have it all! But you have to take action to get it!!My Profile

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Victoria. I totally agree with you, what comes to the fear of travelling. The world might be messed up, that’s for sure, but we can’t stay at home just because we’re too scared to step out of the door (and after all, studies say that the most of the accidents still happen at home, right?). It’s still much more likely to have a car accident than die due terrorism or plane crash (even if I don’t wish any of these options to happen to anyone). So I totally support you with your goal.

      Your educational plans sound great, too! I love to hear when people pursue their dreams, no matter what kind of life situation they’re at. I wish you the best of luck with the application process, I hope you write about it in the future! 🙂

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