How Travel Changed the Way I See Myself

Kristen Laino
January 16, 2024

I recently wrote to my readers on my personal blog that, "I know many of you have been disappointed that I don't have any crazy stories for you, but maybe that's because I've become more content with myself." 

It was a big statement for me to write.

I've been making a lot of changes in my life recently, and travel has played a role in my decisions. But I didn't always possess such courage and confidence.

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Kristen in Mexico

Questioning my worth

I am the third of four children in my family. Growing up, this was difficult at times. 

I felt lost in the shadows and that I had to prove myself to be better and smarter than my older two siblings. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best. If I was not perfect, I did not feel like I was good enough.

I carried many insecurities into my adult life from the bullying and name calling I had endured growing up. I had trouble accepting compliments. I had a hard time accepting that people actually liked me for me.

The Switch

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Taking in the views in Iceland

About a year and a half ago, a switch went off. 

I was dealing with the end of a relationship and I felt so down and lost that it was hard to see up. After spending months in a really dark place, I said enough is enough. I decided that I was taking my life back into my own hands and putting me first. I finally felt like I was living my own life.

At first it was hard. People were used to me acting in a certain way. They didn’t like that I was standing up for myself and not letting myself be taken advantage of. 

The road was hard to navigate, but I learned who should be in my life and who didn’t really appreciate me for me. I think that it is true that with age comes wisdom. I was old enough to realize that I am who I am, and if that isn’t perfect, it’s okay because the people who matter will still care about me anyway.

I am in control

When you stop caring so much about other people’s opinions, you can really start to care for yourself. 

I can't say this journey has been easy as I have certainly shed many tears along the way. I can say though that I know it is worth it.

Stepping into my power

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Enjoying the beautiful Icelandic sunset

I feel like I have gone through a true metamorphosis and have exploded out of my comfort zone. This year, I took two vacations where I knew no one else but me. I traveled to Tulum, Mexico and Iceland with Under30Experiences

Yes, at first I felt like the “new kid” because I didn’t know anyone and I felt the old insecurities trying to sneak in. But since everyone was in the same situation, I pushed the negative thoughts down and quickly made new friends. 

I was able to put myself in a situation that made me slightly uncomfortable, but I succeeded. I was able to fall in love with the places I was in and the people around me. I am already looking into my next “solo” trip.

The power of travel

Traveling forces you to take an honest look at yourself, your environment, and consider what you want from life. I have realized the beauty my soul possesses.

I’ve rediscovered my true passions and have met some amazing shoulders to lean on. I’m in the process of making major life changes (again!).

And I’m so excited to see what the future brings...

Kristen Laino
Kristen Laino moonlights as a blogger and is currently pursuing a masters in early childhood education. She is a women's and mental health advocate and believes in sharing her story to help others feel comfortable sharing theirs. She loves to go on adventures with her dog, Penny, around the Philadelphia area and never turns down a cover band or costume party. Travel is one of her passions and is at 23 countries and counting.


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