What travelling the world has taught me that I could not learn at university. Here are my 4 lessons that I have learned travelling the world.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust
1. Most places are safe
We are constantly bombarded with false and misleading news on the television and across the internet about how horrible, dangerous, dark and scary the world is. Implying that we are only safe right where we are – sometimes. New channels create moral panic and instil beliefs in viewers that are not entirely correct. As an Australian, I see on the news stories about how Thailand is dangerous or if you visit Bali you might not come back alive. Don't believe everything you hear. Go see for yourself.
2. There are more good people out there than any other type
People are people. At the end of the day, we all want to be respected, treated pleasantly and shown kindness. Not everyone ‘out' there is a backpacker murderer or a hitchhiker serial killer. As children we are told not to talk to strangers, not to go to people's homes we do not know, not to eat food that is given to us when not in a restaurant, and not to accept drinks from people we have only just met. But as I travel I question these things I was once taught. Sure it is great protection for a child to practise these safety guidelines as often children can not detect danger and are of course more vulnerable. But as you reach your late teens I think that you can learn to trust strangers again.
- The lady who gave me a lift to her home gave me dinner and organised for her husband to drive me to the next large centre when I missed the bus in rural Thailand, I am grateful to her and glad I trusted a stranger.
- The young man who gave me a ride back to my hostel when it started raining very heavy in Delhi and I was a long walk from the metro. Without me even looking his way he asked me politely if I needed a ride back to the city centre. I am grateful to him and glad I trusted a stranger.
- The family I met at a fresh produce market in rural Vietnam. They were curious about me and had so many questions to ask. I was invited to their home, where the mother showed me what she was cooking and what ingredients she was using. I met the children and really enjoyed my time at her home. She offered to help me find a job if I should wish to stay in the town and wanted to introduce me to other community members. I am glad I trusted a stranger and learnt a lot about Vietnamese cooking and rural family life in Vietnam.
- the young boy I met in Hue. He offered to take me to tombs that were not as well known as the large marked ones on the tourist maps, he took me to all the free entry tombs, and to the hard to get American Hill – which is not accessible by bus or car. I am grateful. And glad that I trusted a stranger.
- to the friendly lady I met down a small soi in Pattaya, who ended up allowing me to store my motorbike at her guesthouse in a store room while I was travelling through Cambodia. I was not even staying at her guesthouse, yet she offered me her storeroom and told me she would keep my motorbike safe while I spent a month in Cambodia. I am grateful for her and glad I trusted her. When I arrived back in Pattaya, she greeted me with a smile, offered me a drink and I helped her get my motorbike out of the store room.
I am a stranger before you meet me. You are a stranger before I meet you. Every friend is a stranger in the beginning. And every friendship has to begin somewhere.
3. Travelling alone is the best thing you can do standing up
Think you're going to be the only one who steps onto a train with your luggage and no travel buddy? Think again. The majority of full-time travellers actually travel solo.
Travelling the world gives you the freedom to stop anywhere you like for longer than planned or find work along the way and not have to worry about sticking to plans or talking through changes in itineraries.
Arriving at a new destination solo quickly turns into exploring the city and travelling with a whole bunch of other travellers after one night at a hostel. Although you are ‘travelling solo', you will find you won't have much time ‘to yourself'.
“You don't choose the day you enter the world and you don't choose the day you leave. It's what you do in between that makes all the difference.” – Anita Septimus
4. Long term travel is not a holiday
This might sound strange at first. But a holiday is a holiday, you arrive at your destination, check-in, relax, explore and in two or three weeks you leave. Travelling long term is exhausting at times, and not in any way can it be considered ‘a holiday'.
The constant planning, searching the pages of guidebooks, constantly getting lost in new cities and enduring 20 hour+ bus rides on chicken buses and always being on the lookout for scams is draining.
Not in a bad way, because you learn and see so much, but it is still exhausting and not something you would do constantly on a typical holiday.
You realise you do not need half the things you thought you needed to live/be happy/function.
You learn to see things in a different light and are more grateful for life and the things that you do have. That expensive furniture, you don't need. All those crafty trinkets lying around the house or thrown out after being displayed in your home for a little money, you don't need either.
Piles of designer dresses, expensive jewellery and high-end makeup that you only wear on special occasions. You don't need that either. It is not ‘stuff' that makes you happy, it is being truly grateful for life and realising that we do not actually need that much ‘stuff' to live and be happy.
Travelling the world opens your eyes to what you can live without. It is quite easy to live out of a backpack for a year or two. If you can live with so little things for that long, you can live with little things your whole life. Travel stops any chance for hoarding ‘the unnecessary' in life. The fewer things you own, the less you have to pack, and the sooner you can start travelling the world.
“You lose sight of things… and when you travel, everything balances out.” – Daranna Gidel
Travelling the world, what is stopping you now?
Take action to start travelling the world now!