Traveling is wonderful! For some it’s R&R, for others it’s adventurous, and for still others it’s a way to bond with family and friends. But wherever your travels take you, there are many lessons you can take home along with your souvenirs. I recently took a trip to visit friends in various cities and returned with many insights about traveling.

1. Be Flexible

Travel is always fraught with unexpected glitches. Some are inconvenient, some really annoying, yet others open up new vistas of opportunity. Whichever the case, traveling necessitates us to be both flexible and resourceful, and we are best advised to take our changes in stride with a sense of humor. If we approach daily life with the same attitude, trusting in G‑d that all is good, we are likely to encounter a more pleasant journey. King David wrote: “Cast to G‑d your burden, and He will sustain you.”1 You can always be in vacation mode if you worry about today and let G‑d worry about all your tomorrows. He is the Ultimate travel agent.

2. We’re Just Passing Through

When we’re on the road, we manage with a lot less stuff. Even though we take luggage, it’s minimalistic. In life, most of us have too many possessions. And “too many possessions lead to many worries.”2 The Maggid of Mezeritch was once asked by a traveling visitor why he had so few furnishings in his home. He, in turn, asked why the guest was traveling with so little. The visitor answered that he was just passing through town. “Likewise,” he responded. “I am just passing through and don’t need a lot of stuff. This world, this life, is a journey to the World to Come.” We don’t need a lot of stuff. We need a lot of merits.3

3. Be Open to New Perspectives

Travel is expansive. When we’re away from our routines, we look at everything as fresh. We learn new things, have novel experiences and meet new people. We are more willing to entertain different perspectives. We are friendlier, less judgmental and more open-minded. If we could hang on to that mindset, our relationships would be more peaceful, loving and approachable. Focus and intent is something that we work on when we’re praying and meditating, trying to see and feel the words anew each time. One of the purposes of Shabbat is a weekly vacation to help us recharge our batteries and see life, and ourselves, in a new way.

4. Relish Each Moment

Time seems to slow down or speed up while we’re on holiday. We are more aware of each day, each hour, even each minute. We relish the memories we are making. The value of every moment we spend on Earth, and the potential of every moment to get closer to our purpose and our Creator, is a quintessential Jewish concept. “One moment in this world is worth more than eternity in the World to Come.”4 That’s because each moment contains within it the potential for doing mitzvahs and growing spiritually. The awareness that we are travelers and not permanent residents helps bring this point and the point of our existence home.

5. Learn Who You Are

When we travel, we learn a lot about different places and things, but we learn the most about ourselves. Seeing ourselves in new situations under different circumstances with unfamiliar people, we discover (or rediscover) aspects of ourselves that we might have forgotten or might never have known. We are supposed to “serve G‑d with all our resources,”5 but we can’t do that if we aren’t aware of what those resources are. It’s very liberating to cast off the shackles of our rigid personas and expectations, and discover who we are and who we can be in new situations and with new people. We can take these newly mined dimensions of ourselves home with us and use them in our lives.

6. Are We Givers or Receivers?

As travelers, we need the help, hospitality, and guidance of the people in the places we travel to. And we can contribute to the people whose homes we travel to in different ways. We are both givers and receivers by necessity, but which one we associate with more is our true identity. It's important to receive with grace and give with generosity.

7. Feel More Grateful

Gratitude is always an option in any new adventure. Whether you are appreciating the hospitality and welcome of people in other places, or noticing your gifts in life compared to those less fortunate, gratitude is always a memory from your trip to take home and savor.

Happy trails! Wherever you may find them.