September hiking in the mountains.  That’s my idea of a perfect vacation.  So, when my dear friend Pat and I began planning a joint vacation to Italy back in January, that was my criteria. Of course, we were planning for our husbands too, so as our criteria expanded it was daunting at timesWe researched when to go, what to see, and what to pack.  Finally, our plan came together, and I felt confident and prepared.

As couples, we arrived separately, connected in Milan, and immediately encountered surprises.  Surprise #1: It was hot and humid. Surprise #2: I packed the wrong clothes. Surprise #3: There were crowds everywhere. Oh well. Italy is truly beautiful, and we had a glorious time.   We rode “e-bikes” (motor-assisted bikes) in the mountains near Lake Como, hiked the Cinque Terre, took bike and walking tours through Florence, and rented a boat along the Amalfi Coast. All were enchanting.   All contained surprises. Some were uncomfortable; and they all added fond memories.

The Power of New Experiences

Travel is all about new life experiences. And no matter how thorough your preparations, it always offers surprises. Life is like that too… as long as you continue to experience new things. Of course, you can live your life by following a set path with set routines, planning for the future, working hard, and simply fulfilling obligations. But If you don’t generate new experiences, life will inevitably grow flat. You’ll also dull your ability to enjoy the present moment. Time will blur into a succession of months, even years, that don’t change. And research shows that when that happens, time will “fly by” without your awareness. Suddenly, the years have passed, and you’ll wonder where they went! That’s a prescription for regret.
To avoid “losing” life’s precious years, you must create new memories. Travel is one way, but there are many others. Learn to play a musical instrument, start a new hobby or sport, take a class or go for that degree you’ve always wanted! Every new experience will exercise your brain and stimulate new memories. Plus, you may just find that you’re more resourceful than you thought! All will enrich your life and add to your resiliency! So, the next time you want to opt for a predictable routine, consider the benefits of trying something totally new.

I learned that I love riding e-bikes! I also learned that I could eat all the pasta, gelato, and wine that I wanted and return home 5 lbs. lighter…..because I hiked, biked, walked or climbed stairs ALL DAY LONG! Most importantly, I learned that I can adapt to anything (even with the wrong clothes!)

To gain maximum benefit from new experiences:
• Involve others. Shared experiences enrich our lives and deepen our connections with others.
• Have fun. Find a way to feel good during each experience…because learning can feel hard!
• Immerse yourself. Take classes, research, allow yourself the freedom to do something badly!
• Record the memories. Take photos, keep notes in a journal, display mementos