Many people associate travelling with being on holidays, and long term travelling with being on a constant vacation…..nothing could be further than the truth.
Travelling has been a time for reflection and learning, mainly about the things that I value, and about myself.
Travelling has taught me so much about me, and about life in general. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:
1. Possessions Are Not Everything
I know, pretty cliché right? But even though many people “agree” with this statement, how many people actually get to live by it?
We live in a society where possessions are seen as important. Many people work their day-in and day-out in a job they hate so they can earn more to be able to buy the nicest car, have the biggest house, dress in the latest fashion, or all of the above crap.
My old 9-to-5 paid me well, I had a nice apartment, had the latest in entertainment and appliances, I wasn’t missing anything, except for something to really make me feel alive.
As I hit my 3rd month on the road, I am homeless, my entire life possessions are inside the backpack on my back, and I smooch WiFi signals from hostels and coffee shops…..and I’ve never felt happier and richer.
2. Time Is Not Money
Having worked for a global financial institution “time is money” was part of the douchebag mentality I was accustomed to hearing, although I never really bought into it.
Time is NOT money. Once your time is up, no money in the world will save you, and all you will wish for is more time (not money). Rough, maybe. Harsh, yes. True, absolutely!
3. Real Life Expectations Are Just That…..Expectations
When I first announced my plan of quitting my good paying job to travel the world, I was met with a lot of skepticism and a lot of unwanted advise. I quickly realized that for those who found my idea odd did so because of how much I was “deviating from the norm”.
For many, happiness means to have a good paying job, find a partner, buy a house, have a family, and wait for death to pick you up (OK,maybe not that last point)……but none of that is me, at least not for now.
For me, happiness is being free to do what I want. I do not look forward to any of those life expectations because, simply, I’m just not there yet.
Do I want a good paying job? Well yeah, but I’d rather work on something I enjoy doing, even if it means I get paid less.
Do I want a house? Eventually, but not right now. How am I supposed to know where I want to live for the rest of m life if I haven’t been everywhere?
Do I want a family? Most likely, but right now I’m enjoying being myself too much to want to think about taking care of others.
Does this mean that I don’t want any of that? Not at all, but the expectation of it having to happen by a certain age just sickens me to my stomach.
4. I’m Not Escaping From Anything
“What are you running away from?”
One of the first things that people thought when I first announced my plan to travel the world, was that I was escaping something. The idea of “running away” was something that I heard often, whether it was from “reality”, from “responsibilities”, from “life”.
The truth is that I am not escaping from anything. Rather, I am out here to find a new life for myself, one where possessions are not everything, where time is not money, and where “real life” is not what society expects it to be, but what each person wants their own to be. If anything, I’m escaping from that false “real world” mentality many people tend to believe.
5. I’m A Traveller, Not A Tourist
Tourists are those who’d rather buy the all-inclusive or pre-packaged experiences, those who snap 25+ pictures with different poses of themselves on a site, those who spend their money at a fancy ‘local” restaurant, those who buy overpriced souvenirs to remind them of their trip.
Travellers engage more with locals, often staying with them, and try to know more about the culture of the country they’re visiting. Travellers seldom need more than one or two pictures of themselves on a site. Travellers prefer to try the local eateries or street food to get the real taste of a place. Travellers value their plane boarding pass as a souvenir more than anything they can purchase.
I am a traveller, not a tourist. And even though I might “play” tourist every once in a while, that doesn’t mean I’m one.
6. Live In The NOW, Not In The Future
There was a time in my past life where I constantly looked forward to things I would like to do (or get done) in the future. Somehow someway, there were always things that got in the way, and I often ended up pushing what I wanted further ahead, often never accomplishing some of my goals. How many of us blame our work, money situation, or relationship for not accomplishing what we want?
Since I began travelling I have learned the importance of living in the now, of enjoying each day like it’s my last. If I want to do something, I do it. If I want to visit a place, I’ll visit it. I don’t let things get in my way anymore.
Tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone, but today and the moment you’re living now is. You choose what to do with it.
7. Off-The-Beaten-Path Destinations Are The Best
When I first began travelling years ago I felt more comfortable in touristy cities. I found the better access the structure made me feel more safe and at ease than in remote places. That has now changed.
Today I prefer the authenticity of destinations that are far from the cities. Places where tourists do not venture and travellers are only few. I find that the social interactions and the opportunities to engage with locals are more authentic than in bigger more touristy places.
8. The World Is Filled With Kindness
Many are the times when I have been helped by complete strangers who did not look to get anything in return.
During my years of travel I have been robbed, scammed, gotten lost in bad parts of town, been cold due to unpreparedness, and in all of these occasions it is the kindness of a stranger that helped me get through. Whether it was by giving me a place to stay for free, by walking with me to show me around or by sharing a warm drink, I have experienced first hand the kindness of people from around the world.
9. Slow Down
More than ever we live in a fast-paced world, one where we can get everything almost as quick as we wished for it so we can move on to the next thing. In travelling this translates into moving from one location to the next, often only seeing the sights the guidebooks tell us to go see.
Slowing down provides an opportunity to really get to know a place. To experience all it has to offer and to live like a local. While slowing down might be a luxury only those with time have, it is still better to see more of one or two places than to visit four or five and never really get to know them.
10. Trust Your Intuition
While travelling alone I have come face-to-face with many situations where I had to make a call solely based on my intuition.
Whether it’s the safety of a place/alley/bar, a stranger’s true intentions, or listening to advise, I have come to realize that my intuition (gut feeling) is my biggest asset.
11. Learned About Myself
Travelling alone has given me much time to think about many of the things I would rarely stop and reflect about back home, mostly about myself, the person I am, and the one I wish to become.
I tell myself that if I can travel alone, if I can put myself in a totally unfamiliar situation in a foreign country where I do not know the language nor do I know anybody, I can really do anything.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this. Let me know your thoughts on this list in the comments below.