Travelling is a truly great way to not only have fun, eat decadent (or really strange) food and see amazing sights but also a great opportunity to learn a lot. I know, I know… this sounds so cliche but it’s actually really true. A lot of the things you’ll have learned won’t be instant ‘lightbulb moments’, they’re more likely to be things that dawn on your slowly… like realising after all your protestation, you actually quite like marmite. In any case, these lessons learned are lessons that also apply to your life generally when you’re back at home or even at work. They’re also slightly strange in that, you never really think about it actively but once you’re aware of it – they just seem so obvious. Here are 8 lessons learned from years of travelling:
N.B.: If you have any lessons you’d like to share, please do add them in the comments section below or you can do so via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. I’d really love to get your perspective on what you’ve learned from travelling.
1.) Spend more time with people who are enthusiastic about you. These are the people who energise you and excite you and chances are, you do the same to them too. Make more time for these people in your life and less for those who feel ambivalent or less-than-enthused about you. The best holidays are holidays spent with these people in your life – they just make things so much more fun don’t they? It might seem tricky to do but deep down, we know those people in our lives who’s smiles take over their faces when they see us (and vice versa, of course) and these are the people that truly matter!
2.) Get lost in the moment. Don’t spend time at the Opera wondering what you’re going to do for dinner tonight or spend time on the beach worrying about that project you have to do at work when you return next week. It probably goes without saying that this only applies to trivial things of course and some level of planning is required for things we are going to do after said moment but try to save that for your ‘down-time’, when you’re relaxing with a nice glass of wine/in front of the fireplace/having dinner. And yes, this happens to the best of us and we sometimes get those cheeky thoughts coming in distracting us from what we’re currently doing but it’s best to truly focus on the experience we’re currently having (which could be as mundane as just preparing a meal from a new recipe or as exciting as climbing Mount Everest) and make the most of said moment!
3.) Forget what the current time it is. Granted people and things around us will still keep trying to remind us abotu the time but there’s something truly liberating about not actively looking for the time yourself. On reflection, this may have initially happened out of laziness (I just couldn’t be bother to walk to the room and get my watch) but it was such a great (and truly relaxing) experience, in retrospect, to not constantly have to think about the time.
4.) Think before you speak – this of course applies when you’re outside of your friend’s group – with your friends, feel free to let your verbal diarrhoea run free! The thing about travelling and getting introduced to so many new people and cultures is that you realise that the a lot of people’s lives and beliefs are dictated by their local cultures. Even if you met a kindred spirit from a different part of the world to yours, you’ll probably still notice some stark differences and it’s important to acknowledge and respect these differences. Don’t do sunbathing nude on a beach in Dubai and don’t get a Buddha tattoo in Thailand – some of these things may not bother you personally but out of respect and common courtesy, acknowledge the fact that you’re somewhere entirely different and the rules here are slightly different from what you’re used to. Pay attention to how things are done/run/said before piping up with your own suggestions or thoughts.
5.) Open yourself to new experiences – it’s the whole point of travelling of course. That, and the chance to either relax or do something really active, but even those are things that are different from what you’re used to. Immerse yourself in your environment – you wouldn’t travel all the way to London and just stay in your hotel room -it’s just not the city for that. Let the city guide you – find out what’s one offer around you and tailor your activities towards that.
6.) Never judge a book by it’s cover. Don’t come at everything with some preconceived notion of what it’s about. Granted, you should do some research to know what to expect is always a good thing but going to Bangkok and expecting to be a bit more street savvy than say in Edinburgh is entirely different from going to Bangkok and expecting every woman to possess the ability to play a great game of ‘handsfree-pingpong’ – sterotyping is just plain disrespectful and does no one any favours. It offends the stereotyped and robs you of the chance to truly experience the holiday/travel in your own eyes rather than from the viewpoint of someone else. I was reading a blog post recently where the blogger was upset by the fact that Singapore had ‘no great beaches’ but had an amazing Adventure-land instead. This blogger had built this stereotype of what an ‘Asian holiday destination’ should be like and had totally disregarded the fact that each country has it’s own identity (in Asia and indeed the rest of the world) and as such was to be judged on its own merits. For instance, what Singapore lacks in natural beaches, it more than makes up for in natural parks and forests (and amazing nightlife).
7.) Be Flexible. You arrive in Japan on holidays and the weather’s changed so you can’t climb Mount Fuji until a day after your initial intended start date. Go explore the surrounding lakes instead. Definitely don’t sit in your hotel moaning about the weather. Being flexible, involves having some perspective and a little bit of ingenuity to move things around on your plan – that way, you can truly ensure that you get the most out of your holiday.
8.) Celebrate yourself. Your travels and the reason (at least in part) behind where you are currently is down to you and some of the choices you have made. Think of the good things you have and the things you are proud of and celebrate them. In the UK, there’s a huge culture around modesty and not blowing your own trumpet but you should from time to time (preferably all the time), give yourself a nice pat on the back and celebrate yourself! You definitely deserve to be celebrated and there is no shame in that.