Travelling is the part of my life which has taught me the most, both personally and educationally, so when I saw that lessons learnt whilst travelling was this month’s Travel Linkup topic, I knew I had to get involved.
So here are 5 of the most important lessons I have learnt whilst on the road:
1. Be Open Minded
Things that are different can seem scary so our first reaction is often to be defensive and criticise, however, I have learned that taking a step back and observing instead of jumping to conclusions can often make for a more interesting experience. Some of the situations I have found myself in have seemed strange or daunting, but when I feel uneasy I now ask questions to open up a conversation instead of judging.
One of my top annoyances when travelling is when I hear people say “that wouldn’t happen in [insert country here]”. If you want things to be the same as home then stay there, if you want to experience the country you are in then open yourself up to its differences.
2. Embrace The Unexpected
I used to plan what was going to happen to the second on a holiday, but with each fail I began to lighten up and take more of a laid back approach to planning. It does not seem to matter how organised I am, there are some things that I simply cannot control (like the weather or other people) so it’s much less stressful just to roll with the unexpected.
3. I Can Handle More Than I Think I Can
On many occasions travel has pushed me to my limits both physically and mentally. These challenges did not always seem fun at the time but have taught me so many important lessons that I have taken back into my everyday life.
I have had so many holiday disasters; just a few are; cancelled flights, a trip to the Emergency Room, illness, potential drowning on a night ferry in Thailand, broken wrist, lost passports and missing luggage, but each time I have surprised myself at how practically I have reacted in the face of what could have ruined the trip. These are not travel experiences I would choose to deal with again but they definitely taught me not to sweat the small stuff.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, there are many positive experiences whilst travelling that have pushed me beyond a level that I thought I was comfortable with. Before I went backpacking I had a bland diet, was very picky about the way I looked and was scared to try new things, but I soon released that I had been holding myself back and that there was so much more to life than staying in my safe little box. With the support of some amazing people I met along the way I tried new things and created wider boundaries.
I am not saying that I am now the picture of calm in any given situation, or even the most adventurous person, but travel has taught me to stop making excuses and go out and live life rather than being stuck in the safe zone.
4. Research Is Important
Though I no longer stick to a schedule when travelling I still think that research is important for a few key reasons.
- To get a better understanding of the culture; this means that the shock on landing is less severe and [hopefully] means you do not accidentally offend any locals. Being respectful to other cultures is hugely important to me whilst travelling and I think is something many tourists neglect.
- You can minimise your risk of ill health and potential danger. It is always advisable to know if you need any specific injections before you travel and what to do if you fall ill abroad. Doing some research on dangerous areas to avoid and tourist scams are also useful to keep yourself safe. After completing this boring but essential research get yourself some decent travel insurance!
- Making a list of key areas or places you would like to see or stay in saves you having to do the admin whilst you are away. There is nothing worse than desperately trying to find wifi so that you can work out where you are, what there is to do and where you are going to sleep that night.
5. My Wanderlust Is Never Ending
It does not matter where I go or how long for, I always want more. I cannot remember a period in the last 10 years where I have not had a trip booked; the thought of being stuck in one place makes me feel anxious and restricted. Travel is my number one passion and a huge driving force in my life, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
What lessons have you learnt from travelling?