Having travelled to…..well lots of countries, I know the benefits of unravelling your life amongst strangers and unusual locations. It definitely puts me outside my comfort zone which means I learn more about myself and the world around me. As I get older I get braver but in some ways more conservative as I’m no spring chicken anymore.
Every trip is an adventure and I learn more about myself sometimes than the country I’m visiting. What I do know is that travelling is the best way to expand your view of the world, take you out of the bubble that is your hometown and explore different food, cultures, traditions, religions, celebrations and more.
You are ever alone.
I remember once being in Fiji not knowing a soul yet I found others – they weren’t necessarily westerners or even similar to me, but they had a passion for travelling.
They knew what it was like to travel through unfamiliar territory not necessarily knowing where we were going or what we were doing. I’ve always found travellers to be friendly and helpful and if you have the courage to strike up a conversation you just never know where it will take you.
The world is a lot less scary than we think – despite what the media say
Yep, the world is a scary place these days. Just think of all the airport security checks and arriving in a country where everyone is carrying AK47’s. It’s daunting, but I’ve always found that most people are kind and eager to help. You do need to have your travel radar up and be mindful of where you are, who is around you and keeping a keen eye out for anything out of the ordinary. But it’s most often easy going. Jump in and see how it goes. You’ve always got room to pull back if it doesn’t sit well with you.
You can live on very little when you travel
Keep it simple. I’ve read it over and over again and as a regular traveller and someone who used to pack weekly for a trip away, I’ve learnt to pack lean and mean. I know I’ll wear that t-shirt twice (maybe three times) before it gets a wash (if at all). I travelled to Egypt and Jordan with one pair of shoes because I did my homework and knew I wouldn’t need anything else.
You don’t have to pack everything – bandaids, moisturiser, shampoo and conditioner etc. etc. You can buy that when you get there if it’s not supplied at your accommodation. Being prepared is one thing but being over prepared is another. Of course, if you like to buy local treasures, you’ll need space for that, although I’m beyond that now. One memento is enough for me.
You learn how to lean on others
I find it hard to ask for help but as I get older and less tech-savvy, I put my hand up and ask for help much easier. Which I’d learnt this lesson earlier in my life. Being independent is one thing but sharing our adventures and asking others about theirs is essential for a good trip. Open your eyes and take it all in like a child with a sense of wonder and curiosity. Everyone likes to talk about themselves so don’t forget to quiz people about their experiences and adventurers. They’ll be keen to share.
It’s all about the food
For as long as I can remember, I’ve told people who I only travel because of the ‘food’. Times haven’t changed. To explore and experiment is fantastic and most recently on a trip to Phuket in Thailand, I tried roasted grasshoppers. Now I’m not normally someone likes to be a ‘box ticker’ who says ‘oh yes I tried tarantulas in Cambodia and dog in China and Whale in Iceland’, I find that cliché and frankly more about someone having great tales to tell about their tolerance for dining absurdity than anything else. But each to his own.
When travelling – try what you can. My tip is always to make sure it’s cooked in front of you and be measured about what you choose and what you ignore. And of course, pack those charcoal tablets just in case you get a sore tummy.
You can have fun anywhere
You will find joy in the most unusual places. On the roof of a train (Morocco), at a train station (New Delhi), on a truck (Zimbabwe) and so much more. Although according to MBTI I’m an extrovert, I’m shy and it takes me a while to take that step forward and say Hi. When I do, I’m rarely knocked back or given to cold shoulder. More often, it leads to a conversation that ends up being memorable. Example: Recently sitting in a brewery with a friend and a woman was sitting in the chair next to us but on her computer. She put her computer down and went off to the toilets. We were ready to leave but wanted to stay until she returned to her computer would be safe. When she returned, we started a conversation and BOOM – our stories unfolded and left feeling blessed. On another trip to Thailand, I was chatting to the guy next to me who was a charter pilot so he knew heaps about planes. The stories he shared (some a wee bit naughty) were great and we had a great flight chit chatting about ‘stuff’. Take a chance of having fun. You never know where it will find you.
Change, change, change
I’m 55 and have been travelling overseas since I was 21 – yes I was a late starter. What I’ve learnt is that travel is all about to change. I’ve learnt more about myself than others. I’ve grown as a person and learnt to give more than I receive. I reflect over what’s important to me and who I really am and what I value. This is what drives me forward to explore more of our wonderful world.
You learn to relax
Chill baby. Like really chill. All those security checks, guns, bodyguards, uniforms – it can take its toll. These are the days of travelling overseas and you need to get used to it. It’s a procedure. It’s protocol. Obey the rules and it’ll be fine. Don’t forget to breathe. Don’t forget to drink lots of water. Pause. Reflect. Learn. Take those memories with you. And share.
Question the every day of your destination
So why do we get up at 7 am and others at 3 am? Why do others sleep when it’s dark and rise and sunrise. Why do some not eat on some days but gorge on others? Why? Lots of questions, not always answers. Travel gives you the chance to look at the culture around you and question why? Have an open mind. Ask others for their thoughts and opinions. Take it all in and come to your own conclusion. Question how it fits into your own everyday routine at home and your perspective on life. Beware: you may find that your beliefs are challenged and you may have to reconsider the status quo.
You become more connected with the world around you
A different language, different food, different currency, different customs and so much more. Travelling will challenge everything you know and believed in. Take it on board. Be respectful and observe And I mean really observe. This is where you learn. Take the time to connect with others and see their point of view. Expand your horizons and knowledge of this amazing world.
Now it’s your turn. What are the lessons you’ve learned travelling? The good, the bad and the ugly.
Leave a comment below.