In the last month alone, I’ve been to Vietnam, Australia, Singapore, U.A.E., Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Macau. I know this sounds like something of a #HumbleBrag but what it highlights are a diverse set of countries with different cultures, customs and indeed different laws yet within all of these and I guess because of rather than in spite of, there have been some key unifying lessons I have learned in the past few weeks from visiting these places. I feel like I’ve gotten the chance to grow and improve upon myself and here how travel’s changed me over the last few months…
1.) Appreciate diversity. People are different. I’m not going to say that this is a good or bad thing – that would just be trying to impose my opinions as fact, instead I just acknowledge the fact that people are different. It’s important to bear this in mind in many situations as if you put yourself in other people’s shoes and think of their backgrounds and their approach to the same issue, you’re bound to realise that it’s vastly different from you and hence approach your interactions with people differently. Diversity is a strength not a weakness and provides a more well-rounded view of the world.
2.) Stand up for others (and for what you believe in). I quickly realised that power is not balanced (I kinda took it for granted that it was for a long time) and what you find that happens in most situations is that ‘whoever speaks the loudest’ and ‘sounds the most confident’ tends to have their opinion taken as the authoritative view on a situation and this isn’t always right nor fair. I’ve come to appreciate that even people who don’t speak up, particularly those who are too afraid to, need someone to speak up for them. This has led to me being more opinionated generally which can be seen with certain blog posts (or even when I comment on other people’s blogs) where I feel like something needs to be said on behalf of others. In any case, this experience over the last few months has really taught me to stand up not just for other but also things I believe in..
3.) There’s joy in the ordinary. So many things we take for granted at home brings joy to people elsewhere and vice versa. You’d think given this, we’d know to appreciate even the most mundane of things but we just don’t. It becomes run of the mill to us and truly taken for granted. Being away and getting to enjoy routines that the locals take for granted really made me think about so many things I take for granted at home and gave a new sense of perspective with these things. For instance, a rushed walk to work over The Millennium Bridge in London is not something I’ve ever thought much of however, pretty much every tourist worth their salt will have a photo of the bridge or on it – the view is impressive of St Pauls and London from it ain’t half bad!
4.) There are so many more meals out there that you’ll love that you realise. You think you know what you like and in most cases you do but if you just try some new things, you’ll realise that your list of favourite foods needs some serious updating. Some of the new stuff you can probably already imagine liking but some other stuff sounds absolutely terrible… until you try them and realise that they’re perfect for you!
5.) Have fun! Whenever you get an opportunity to have some fun, seize it! I’m not saying go on a debauched ‘wreck-yourself’ binge (whatever you do, don’t do that!) I just mean for you to take pleasure from what you can. You might be stuck watching a cheesy street parade and part of you feel like you should just walk away but I say no – instead, join in the dancing and singing and indulge the silliest and most childish attributes in you! Trust me, you’ll feel good for doing so!
6.) Explore more on foot! Take a walk and explore your surroundings. Don’t just hop into a taxi/train/bus everywhere. Try to explore places on foot and you’ll be surprised at the experiences you’ll have and would have missed otherwise in a vehicle.
7.) Be more flexible. This should apply to how you interact with people and even how you approach certain situations. You soon realise that there are so many routes to get you to where you need to be and it’s important to be flexible and start to think outside of the box when you need to get things done. Seeing different approaches to problem solving by a diverse set of people truly does open your eyes to how many different ways there are to tackle the same problem/question with some methods that you’d never have even considered actually ending up being waaaaaay more efficient than others.
8.) Open yourself to new experiences. Some of the great experiences I had on my travels are those that I probably would never have originally opted for. It’s amazing (and personally gratifying) to look back and think of how much I’ve enjoyed them! This has kinda become it’s own brilliant cycle where the experiences from past events fuels the need to experience new things and then experiencing these new things leads to craving more new experience and back and forth and back and forth. In all, opening yourself to new experiences on your holidays can be truly enlightening and throughly enjoyable (as long as you play it safe of course)!
9.) Be open to meeting new people. It can sometimes feel like you don’t need or want to make new friends when travelling – after all what’s the point if you’re just going to be there for a few days/weeks/months but you’ll be surprised at how amazing some people can be if you give them half a chance. Again, exercise caution around strangers of course but when possible, it’s worth opening yourself to meeting new people with fascinating experiences, even if all it is for is a nice chat at a bar or a little natter at the slot machines in Vegas as these people can surprise you by how much they can add to your travel experience.
10.) Share your experiences. Judging from the feedback I’ve received on the blog, from friends and family on Facebook and from how I’ve felt personally when writing about my experiences, it truly does help to share your experiences. Some of the experiences are useful and practical stuff, some are just for pure entertainment and some are just personally enriching in an intangible way but all in all, there’s so much to be gained personally from sharing your experiences and reflecting on your time travelling. (A big thank you to YOU for letting me share my experiences with you!)