This month BootsnAll is hosting a project encouraging bloggers to look back on a year of travel and share stories of travel and fun. Sometimes we forget about the great places we go or the fabulous experiences we have; or perhaps there is some travel that we don’t at first consider to be ‘travel’. This is a great way to re-envision what travel means to us and realize that we all travel more than we think!

Traveling (like parenting, I’m told) is one of the great teachers of life. You can read all you want about it, dream what it will be like, get advice from your friends, and picture yourself in it; but when it’s happening, when it’s really happening it will be nothing like you ever imagined.

It will be more; much more. It will be harder; much harder. It will be defining, filled with lessons, and so worthwhile.

Here are some of the lessons that travel has taught me:

I am lucky. I started lucky by being from Canada, a country that is well regarded in the rest of the world. I have great, supportive family and friends, and a partner who is as interested in living a travel filled life filled as I am. I don’t have a family and children to worry about (although that is absolutely no excuse not to travel). There are plenty of people all over the world, and in my own country, who cannot travel. Who cannot leave their own countries. Some because they couldn’t possibly afford it, some because their governments won’t allow it, and some because travel is not part of their culture. It doesn’t take long to realize that, relatively, we are all lucky.

People are kind. I’m often asked how we managed in all the places where English wasn’t spoken. It was never an issue. People everywhere want to help. We could not pull a map out without someone stopping to ask if we needed help – whether they spoke English or not. I left wondering how we would make out in the big, bad world and returned thinking that there are no inhospitable places because they are all essentially filled with people just like me.

We’re all the same. People around the world all want the same things out of life. A roof over our heads, enough food on the table, the love of family and friends, a good future for our children, a laugh now and again…to be happy. It doesn’t matter if you have a lot of money or a little, whether you are Canadian, or Indian, or Vietnamese, if you live in a hut or a mansion…it all boils down to basics.

What lessons has travel taught you?