Where did you grow up? This is a complicated question
for children from a military family. My answer:
everywhere and nowhere.
Because of this unique childhood I’ve always felt
at home in the world and understood why I love to
travel. Later in life, it dawned on me it also influenced
how I travel. As the daughter of a Marine, and the
wife of a soldier, I’ve been exposed to a lifestyle
that carries with it a certain mindset and way of
moving through the world. I’ve adopted a few of these
valuable tools for myself and found they inspired
a sense of confidence and self-reliance. Whether
I’m miles away in a foreign country or just down
the road, they are always there as a reference.
In addition to a sense of humor and infinite patience,
these five lessons have served me well on my travels.
1) “CHECK YOUR SIX”
Situational awareness. I can’t talk enough about this one. It’s first on
the list because it’s so important, especially in this age of attention-detracting smartphones. In a crowd or on your own, it’s a simple concept
worth practicing. Keep your eyes and ears open, pay attention to your
surroundings, and trust your instincts if something feels amiss.
2) FIND THE COURAGE
As someone who often travels solo, I get asked about fear all the time.
It’s healthy to be afraid but more often than not, we imagine scenarios and dangers that will likely never happen. It helps to break the
situation down into manageable pieces. Try to pinpoint exactly where
the issue lies and look for ways to solve that particular problem. As
the saying goes, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
3) STAY IN TOUCH
Situation reports (aka sit-reps) are a vital means of communication in the military. By
checking in occasionally to say what you’re doing or where you are, you’re ensuring
an extra level of personal safety. Hiking alone in the desert can be exhilarating, but
a quick message to let someone know your general direction is always a good idea
4) BE PREPARED
Spontaneity is exciting, but preparation and organization leaves you
with even more room to sit back and relax stress-free. At the simplest level, it could mean arriving at the airport with ample time or
packing a complete carry-on for an unexpected delay. On the serious
end of the scale (i.e. having emergency supplies or extra fuel in a remote area) it could be the difference between life and death.
5) DON’T FORGET THE BENNIES
The scope of recreation-related benefits available to service members
and their families has grown tremendously. Taking advantage of these
free or discounted perks can make for interesting and cost-effective
travel, like USO airport lounges, Space-A flights, or an Armed Forces
Vacation Club membership. H