So I’ve just come back from another big trip and having previously written about the joys of travel, I decided to write about some of the things I have learnt during my time away. Travelling teaches you many things, but here I’ve narrowed down six of the best lessons learnt with a rucksack on your back and plane tickets in your hand….
- Strangers can be nice. Not scary.
When growing up, we’re always told to avoid speaking to strangers and to be wary of people we don’t know and sometimes this instils in us a sort of fear or mistrust of new people, even in our adult life. However, during my time away I continuously found myself surprised by how friendly and generous complete strangers could be. I was welcomed into the homes of people who I had never met before but who made me feel like part of the family. It seemed like everyone I met was interested in the travels of me and my friends – whether it was our hosts, waiters in restaurants or even passers-by who overheard our accents. Of course, I’m not saying that you can trust absolutely everyone and you always have to remain careful and use your head when the situation looks dodgy – especially when you’re in a place you don’t know well. Trust your instincts, but don’t be afraid to share your adventure with the right people.
- Everyone needs their space
I loved travelling with friends and have created lasting memories of the adventures we had, the places we saw and the various moments of pure hilarity along the way. It’s good to always have someone to talk to and to share your journey with. However, everyone needs a little bit of alone time every now and then – even if it’s just a cheeky 10 minute walk or a couple of hours with a good book. Don’t feel like you’re missing out on all the fun or being a bore just because you crave a little bit of “you-time”. Having little breaks from each others company means you and your travel buddies are less likely to get irritable with each other and gives you all a chance to enjoy a bit of much needed peaceful space.
- You won’t need half the stuff you bring
This is a classic travel lesson. Despite being told not to bother, I still found myself packing various cosmetics, beauty products and clothing that I probably-wont-need-but-think-I-should-take-it-just-in-case. Don’t. Just don’t. When you’re packing, have a really good think about where you’re going, where you’ll be staying and what you’ll be doing. Do you really need that many pairs of shorts? Are you going to have time to colour in your eyebrows every morning? Will not taking that pair of dungarees really impact upon your enjoyment of the trip? It sounds daft but you will be thankful for packing sensibly later on down the line. Having more space in your case or bag means less weight to be lugged around and allows potential room to bring things home. Having some form of order to your packing means being able to find things quickly and avoiding the heart stopping panic of not being able to find your passport on the way to the airport. Be smart but ruthless with your packing – start with the things you know you need and maybe add a few extras but don’t go overboard. There are some good videos on Youtube on how to pack cases and rucksacks efficiently if you’re struggling!
- Winging it is fun, but some stuff needs a plan
This one depends on your travel style. Some people just want to jump straight into the adventure and see where it takes them while others require a detailed of plan of what they want to do and see. I believe a healthy dose of both is the best approach. If there’s a particular place or attraction you want to visit then it always pays to do some prior research so you know where you’re going, how you’ll get there and what you’ll need. It would really suck to turn up somewhere to find you needed tickets in advance etc. If you’re in a city it also pays to know which areas you should avoid and where you can be safe. Alternatively, it’s sometimes nice to improvise and just see where the day takes you – go exploring, check out a quiet town or go for a walk in the country etc. Ultimately, it’s wise to make time to chill out and wander but be sure to have plans when you need them most.
- I am small
Here is where we start to get a little bit sentimental, so brace yourself. When you go travelling and see the amount of other people in the world, the vast stretch of countries and how many lives are happening outside of your bubble it makes you feel so small. Not necessarily in a bad way, it just clarifies that you and your home and your life are a speck on the face of this world and there that is so much more out there. To quote The Lion King – “there’s more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done”. Our world is enormous, unexplainable, incredible, beautiful and devastating and it holds more adventures and challenges than we can possibly fathom. The experience of travelling truly gives you perspective and makes you think more about others and this vast world which continues to spin despite whatever is happening in your little segment.
- I can trust myself
I can handle anything – that’s the epitome of how travel makes me feel. The combination of self-reliance, planning, initiative, adventure, companionship, courage, teamwork and resourcefulness required for seeing the world teaches you that you have vast range of skills and positive qualities that have seen you through the ups and downs of your trip. In summary, travelling makes me feel alive, strong and capable of facing anything. Subsequently, I can’t imagine a time in my life when I won’t enjoy travelling and won’t be willing to reap the many lessons offered only by seeing the world.