I have just realized that it has been 12 years since I had started my first independent and conscious travelling. 12 years that made me who I am today and put me in the right place. I’m sure that each of us would have different reflections after this time, but let me share with you my personal, subjective lessons I’ve received from traveling:
- There is no such thing as ‘impossible’
This is the first and the most important lesson. During my travel I’ve learned that impossible is nothing. Especially when you travel, you are dependent on your negotiation, diplomacy and persuasion skills. If you don’t take care of something, you won’t have it. And sometimes it means to be or not to be. Many things may be difficult to organize at first glance, but there is always a way to do them. You just need more time and stubbornness. However, if you learn it once, you will keep acting like this in day-to-day, normal life. There won’t be something too scary, too difficult or impossible to you. That’s the best thing about this lesson.
- There is no one way of living
This one is hard to understand until you travel and see how other people live. In western culture we are learned the strict norms and way of living. There is a plan for life and most of the people follow it because they think that it’s the only way to live their life. Travelling opens your eyes and shows you that there is no such thing like one, perfect way of living. As many places and people as many attitudes toward success, career, family-life and relationships. It appears that none of them is better or worse. If you are open enough and have a willingness to listen, you can learn that nothing is for sure and forever. People live in a million different ways while still being happy and fulfilled.
- At the end of the day, we are all the same
This is one of the most fascinating observations I had. Much is said about religious, political or class divisions. Also about the cultural differences that affect the way we live and perceive our reality. While traveling the world, you can observe the differences between people living in different countries, but those people follow the same fundamental principles. It doesn’t matter if you visit crowded Japan, Australian suburb or a small village in India. All people living there dream about the same and want the same from life: health, love, peace and a decent life. These values are universal. The place of birth, religion or amount of money does not really matter. These basic ideas connect us more than we think. At the end of the day, they make us all the same.
- People want to help you
Every single day in a mass media we see people who are cruel, ruthless and hurt others. Our reality creates a delusion that we should fear other people and do not trust them. If every day you hear that people hurt each other, it’s hard to cultivate the belief that people are inherently good. On the other hand, if we were all bad, our world would no longer exist. Travelers are continuously warned against dangerous countries, places and situations. However, if we listen to the media buzz, we would probably not move out of the house. Sure, the unpleasant situations happen, but despite them, there is much more selflessness, empathy and respect for others. Every time I asked for help I always received it. Ordinary people are good, regardless of your gender, religion or origin. And if you are a guest in their country, they will be willing to help you.
- You don’t need a language for basic things, but without it you just won’t understand
Certainly, you can get along in a body language and handle the basic stuff like accommodation, food or a bus ticket. But that’s all you can do. If you really want to get to know people you meet on your way, understand their culture and they approach to life, you have to give them a chance to talk. And without knowing their language it will be impossible to understand what they say. Fluent communication in another country takes you to a completely different level. It makes your journey not only about getting from point A to point B, but also spending the time with locals.
- When you come back home you feel that you can do everything
Traveling is a challenge. You have to be ready for the unknown, deal with difficulties and unpredictable situations. In short: the trip keeps you mobilized. There is no to complain or whine. You act in a specific mode: problem – solution. And then you come back to reality and realize that this mode does not stop because it is already a part of your nature. While the other people complain about daily challenges, you just face them one after another. You have a feeling that if there is a will, there is way.
- Travels teach you life minimalism
It’s easy to imagine that travels force you to reduce the material belongings. It’s not practical to move around with a heavy luggage. But traveling is about something more. Life minimalism. You do not have time for everything and you don’t want to waste any single minute. Small things and meetings become visible and tangible. Health, when you can’t be sick on the road, is the most important. Talking with the family, which you haven’t seen for a long time, has a new meaning. You try to talk only about important things and avoid the pointless prattle. A beautiful weather, a delicious meal or a moment for yourself are the little things that you appreciate like never before. Suddenly it turns out that we do not need the great actions or words to feel happy, because the simplest things bring us joy that we lost somewhere in a regular, busy life.
- You need to be brave. If you aren’t yet, you will have to learn
Making a single brave decision that you’re off the road it’s not enough. To finish it, you will need a lot of courage every day. Thinking whether you really have it is normal at the beginning. However, you can’t let the worries influence your way of acting. If I had to name one thing that is pushing me forward and making me stand up to many situations, I would say: courage. During the trip, there is no place for fear and hiding in the corners. You have to be tough and withhold the difficulties. Even if this is not your nature, travels will give you the lesson very quickly.
- You need to trust yourself
If you don’t know what you’re capable of, how much can you hold on and what your strengths and weaknesses are, it will be harder. Knowing yourself is the foundation that shapes our characters. If you think that you are not able to deal with something and don’t know how to do it, no one can save you. If you do not believe that you can take care of yourself, how do you want to go through life? Self-belief is the foundation of every step you take on the road. Especially when you travel to a foreign land and you don’t know the people. In this case, you are all alone to take care of yourself.
- Travel will not help you to escape your problems
For many people, travels are synonymous of escape from everyday life, failed relationships or problems with figuring out what to do next. It’s kind of popular to say “I had enough of my life, so I bought a one-way ticket on the end of the world.” People leave everything and run away as far as possible, believing that they got rid of their problems. Unfortunately, in most cases, they are the problem; and only by changing the country they will not become an entirely new person. If you don’t believe in yourself, have enough determination or constantly get into toxic relationships, you will repeat the pattern regardless of the country in which you live. Traveling is not a magic wand. If you want to improve something in your life, start from yourself and not from the place you live.
- Travels teach you respect for your country
We talk about traveling mostly in the context of learning about cultures and places we do not know. It is cliché to say that traveling will teach you tolerance and open-mindedness. However, it also gives one more valuable lesson: to appreciate the place where you grew up. The more you’ve seen and experienced, the easier for you is to see what is the value of everyday life. You also notice how important is the environment that shaped you as much history and experiences that you had. You realize that you are not worse than other people, that you’re unique just like your homeland. And you’re proud of it.
- You can handle more, than you think
Before we take part in a situation we have never experienced before, it’s hard to judge whether we are able to do something or not. Traveling is full of experiences that you are unlikely to have sitting in one place. It’s a question of rapidly changing dynamics. Before we move to a different environment, far away from the culture in which we grew up, we have the whole range of beliefs about ourselves and the world. We would not eat something, we don’t want to try another thing, we would be scared, we could not stand…. And then we go and it turns out that we can do and endure more than we could have ever imagined.
If you ask me whether I would change something in my travels in the last 12 years, I would say: NOT A THING! Traveling has taught me more about myself and the world around me than I could have ever expected. I often say that it was and it still is the best thing you could do for your development. I believe that travelling stimulates us to thinking like nothing else. If we only want to open up to the unknown, listen and observe, we can be sure that the lessons we get from life will be priceless.
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