After almost three years on the road, I’ve learned a lot and changed a lot. Part of that is simply increasing in age – from 22 to 25 is a big jump in anyone’s life, no matter where they live or what they wind up doing. But a lot of the changes I’ve experienced are from having experiences overseas that wouldn’t have been possible if I’d stayed home. I thought it’d be fun to make a list of all the things travel has taught me – well, at least 25 of them – to share with you all!
1) I feel anxious if I’m too far from the ocean. When I was an au pair in the Czech Republic, I went without seeing the beach for 4 months. It was the longest time in my life, so I booked flights to Barcelona and instantly felt better.
2) Stuff doesn’t make you happy – not the kind of happy where you face hurts from smiling too much. The happiest time I’ve ever experienced is when all I had was my backpack filled with ruined, camera, laptop and a bunch of new friends that I was volunteering with in Cambodia.
3) I’m an expert at falling asleep on buses, trains and planes.
4) Nothing compares to the feeling of discovering your new favourite cafe, shop or friend in a completely new city.
5) You’ll get food poisoning at least once if you visit Asia
8) If the price isn’t printed on something, it’s negotiable. The best way to get a better price is to say “oh, so expensive” and pretend to walk off disappointed…
9) If you travel alone, you’ll rarely be lonely.
10) If someone’s speaking to you in English and it’s not their native language, compliment them on it – they’ll love it.
11) People are, at the core, the same. They want to live a good life. They want to provide for their families. They want to have love and happiness in their lives. It doesn’t matter how much money they have, how rich or poor they are, almost everyone wants the same thing.
12) If something goes wrong, laugh. There’s no point getting angry, especially when you throw in some good language barriers. Just laugh. If it doesn’t make anything better, well hey – at least you’re having a good chuckle.
13) It doesn’t matter how much fun your trip is, you’ll miss out on things and it will be hard.
14) If something is too cheap… then it’s probably a scam.
15) Slow down. You don’t always need to rush everywhere. Taking out a day to slowly wander around a new place with no plan or idea of what you’ll find is one of the best medicines for the soul.
16) There’s no where quite as enchanting as Charles’ Bridge in the early morning. Walk over it at least once in your lifetime.
17) Make an effort. Almost everyone wants to be liked, and wants to make new friends – but often people are too scared. Make the effort to have a conversation with someone you see sitting alone in a restaurant, hostel or bus and you might end up with a friend.
18) Time goes differently when you travel long term.
19) Eat where the locals do, you’ll meet locals, get a better feel for the country and you’ll save money.
20) It’s possible to communicate even if there’s no mutual language.
21) If you are open, you will be shown the best that humanity has to offer. I have had so many touching experiences of kindness that I could fill an entire book with them.
23) There’s never the perfect time for anything, there’s only the time you set aside
24) Durian smells disgusting and so does Paris!
25) Not to sweet the small stuff. That a bus can arrive 3 hours late in Phnom Penh and no one will blink an eye. That you’ll be sold something and it will end up being less than promised. You’ll get ripped off, overcharged, you’ll be under delivered. You’ll fall in love with people you didn’t know existed a week ago and you’ll fall in love with places you can’t properly pronounce. You’ll get homesick, but you’ll return home and will be sick for every place you visited on your adventure.
So tell me, what has travel taught you?