5 Ways Travel Has Changed My Life

John DiScala Johnny JetI’m posting this guest article on Labor Day, a day it seems fitting for me to take a break from writing new posts on this blog, which I’ve been doing since 2003. I’m giving the floor to a friend I’ve known almost that long: John DiScala, better known as Johnny Jet.  Take it away Johnny!

I grew up in a small town in Connecticut. I was always fascinated by travel but flying was expensive and I come from a large family so we didn’t travel often. Aside from one road trip up to Canada one time, we never intentionally set out to travel.

In high school, my sisters moved to Australia around the same time the movie Crocodile Dundee was released. I quickly became obsessed with Down Under. I spent months talking my mom into going on our first real international trip so we could visit them. Our dream trip for my senior year spring break consisted of stops in San Francisco, Hawaii, Sydney, Perth, Fiji, and Los Angeles.

Before setting out on this trip that I finally got permission to go on, my mom brought me to my asthma doctor. That’s when my life was suddenly turned upside down. The doctor put the fear of God in me when she said, “You’re going to Australia?! You know that’s a really long flight. Planes are pressurized, so you might have a difficult time breathing in the sky.” Needless to say, when we arrived at New York’s JFK airport a few days later, I had a full-on anxiety attack and refused to get on the plane. It was one of the worst days of my life.

For the next three years, I was not only afraid to fly; at times, I was even afraid to leave the house. Then something miraculous happened. I slowly got over my fears. One of the key players was a homeopathic doctor who told me I was suffering from anxiety because I was on too much asthma medication. He cut the dosage of my heavy-duty pills. Feeling more confident, I ended up moving to Los Angeles to go to college.

Johnny Jet travels

There, I met a girl whose parents lived all over the world. I was quickly bitten by the travel bug and became addicted to my miles and learning tricks for flying at a low cost. When I graduated college, I took a job at Marymount College (now Marymount California University) as an admissions officer. The job required me to travel — a lot. I had a 26-state territory along with a tight travel budget. I started learning ways of traveling lavishly for very little money, especially with the help of airline miles and travel credit cards.

I’ve now been to nearly 100 countries and have been sharing my travel tips since 1995. I created my website, JohnnyJet.com, in 2000 to help other people travel the world. My site and my travel tips have since expanded. In fact, it’s grown so much that Forbes named me a top-10 travel influencer in their most recent review.

Here are 5 ways travel has changed my life:

1. It helped me get over many of my fears.

View from the airplane when flying - 5 ways travel has changed my lifeAlthough I still fear things like heights and snakes, travel has allowed me to get over my most hindering fear of getting out of the house and seeing the world. I have researched and read about different stats that have proven that flying is much safer than driving. Learning and pushing myself to face my fears have put me more at ease while up in the air. I now feel safer flying than in a car on a highway!

2. I realized the world isn’t as dangerous as I’d thought.

One of my fears about traveling was getting robbed, injured, or worse, while outside of the United States. But after traveling the world, I realized that the world isn’t as dangerous as people make it out to be. I actually felt safer in most of the places I visited than at home in my beloved America.

3. Travel cured me of asthma.

A Chinese doctor in Malaysia cured me of asthma. It was nothing less than miraculous since there was a time when I wouldn’t even go to the mailbox without my inhaler, which I used multiple times a day. Now, I don’t even carry it. My U.S. doctor couldn’t believe it when I returned home.

4. It reinforced the notion that travel is fatal to prejudice.

Fortunately, I grew up in a household where I was taught to treat everyone equally with respect and kindness. Travel has taught me that people all over the world are the same, with the same hopes and dreams. It has shown me how we are all connected as humans.

John and Natalie DiScala traveling in business class

5. I met my wife thanks to travel.

Thanks to travel, I met the most amazing woman. I met Natalie (you can follow her on social media at @NatalieDiScala) on a work trip in Florida. She was visiting from Toronto, Canada and I was coming in from California. We immediately hit it off and together, we have traveled the world. We got married and now have the sweetest little boy who is allowing me to see the world all over again through his eyes.

JohnnyJet family with Natalie and Jack

Johnny Jet has traveled over 100,000 miles a year and has visited close to 100 countries since starting his newsletter in 1995. On his website, he writes about how to maximize credit card points, find travel deals, score cheap flights, and how to benefit from insightful travel tips. He has hosted a television special on The Travel Channel and was recently named one of Forbes’ Top 10 Travel Influencers for 2017. He now appears every Saturday on Leo Laporte’s The Tech Guy Show talking about travel and technology. Johnny travels the world with his wife Natalie DiScala, who writes the travel + style blog Oh! Travelissima, and their son Jack. Be sure to sign up for his free newsletter at JohnnyJet.com.

All photos courtesy of John DiScala.

Comments
  1. Juan Ovalle

    Travel has been one of my greatest teachers in life. So much of me now was shaped because of the places I’ve been to and the people I’ve met in those places

  2. Roland Alfonso

    Sounds like you missed the 1970s. EVERYONE had difficulty breathing then, because people “smoked” cigarettes, inside the plane!, during the flight! I get all choked up just thinking about those foggy days at 10,000 metres.

  3. rame

    great opportunity to relax in Italy… https://bit.ly/2NLuJi9

  4. Foria lena

    Thanks your ! for shared this blogs are wonderful all time preferable.
    Professional freelancer mobile app designer in USA

  5. Katherine

    Travelling has really helped you a lot and changed your life completely..It was really inspiring and encouraging of you to not give up!!!

  6. Sophia Addison

    A true example of how can one’s life be changed by traveling. Your sharing might be the inspiration to many.

  7. Atlastravel

    Traveling can be life changing. I, like many people, put off traveling for some time with one excuse after another; but, I finally realized that I needed to take action and what a difference it has made. I enjoy going to different lands and cultures and interacting with the locals to get a feel of how they live. It has broadened my outlook on the world. I also feel an exhilaration after seeing far away places that I have always dreamed about. Dreams do not have to remain dreams.

  8. Gujarat Tour

    this is incredible! And so honest about the person you were before. It’s great to be able to look back on your past self with that level of detachment and self-awareness. And such an inspiring story! I’m lucky, in that I’ve always been fairly adventurous with food anyway, but I know people who can list the things they’re prepared to eat on one hand, and think of pizza as ‘too adventurous’. It’s great to see you travelled in spite of those food limitations, and even overcame them. Thhanks for posting! :-)

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