Although my experiences with travel have only just begun, I feel like I have learned so much more about myself than most others ever get to. I love looking back on my pictures and posts from when I was abroad, and reminiscing on my thoughts and feelings during those moments. Everything I’ve come across, every person I’ve met, every place I’ve been has held meaning to me and has helped me grow and improve as a human.
We all know that a fancy college education does not give you street smart. We all know that life’s ups and downs are the true teachers. But something about being alone, in a foreign country, with lots of time to think and reflect, has etched some ideas in my mind that will always be a part of me.
Experiences are worth much, much more than material things.
We live in a world surrounded by fancy, shiny things. We feel the need to always keep up with the latest fashion trends, latest technology, etc. But for me, rather than material items, I’ve always felt that my money should be spent otherwise- mainly for trips and traveling. I’ve never been much of a materialistic person, so this concept is probably harder to grasp for some people. I’m also young, and didn’t grow up with a super rich family that spoiled the crap out of me.
When I traveled to Southeast Asia this past summer, I took nothing but a 50L backpack with me. (Speaking of material things- I splurged big $$ on the backpack, lol!).. I was so excited to get it in the mail, and then I was astounded as to the little amount of clothes I could fit in it. Even rolled up all perfectly and stuffed in there, there was no way I could fit all my nice, name brand workout clothes in there. I literally had to pick a week’s worth of workout clothes and a week’s worth of tank tops and shorts, some socks, sandals, bathroom stuff, and that’s it!
After about a few weeks of wearing the same clothes, doing laundry every week, and switching up the shirt and shorts combo the best I could, I realized that nobody around me cared what I was wearing. I didn’t even care what I was wearing. I was meeting so many people, doing so many fun things (and also sweating my f*cking ass off every second of everyday- my clothes were almost always dirty instantly). I became aware that those material things meant nothing there. I was literally the happiest I’ve ever been with nothing on me except a backpack full of my belongings. When you realize something like that, your priorities begin to change.
Appreciation is everything.
Appreciation is a tricky little thing. Even if you consider yourself an appreciative and grateful person, you almost always don’t appreciate a moment until it’s gone. There’s still times when I can remember something from my travels so vividly and I almost start to cry, because I wish I could go back to that very moment so I could appreciate it just a little bit more. You have to sit back and revel at every sunset, every insane view, every piece of scenery that looks like nothing like you’ve ever seen before.
I’m also extremely appreciative of the very opportunities I have to travel. I live in a country that allows me to freely travel, my family and my friends are incredibly supportive, I’m financially stable enough to travel, and I can take off of work to travel. I feel very blessed because of this.
When traveling to certain areas, you also become very appreciative of the comforts of your own life. After spending so much time in Asia, I will never take toilet paper, a working toilet, and our plumbing system for granted again. Over there, you can’t just drink water out of the tap. Every time you drink water, you have to buy a bottle. It’s little things like this that we often take for granted. Don’t.
You’re never ready.
Was I ready to book a one way ticket to Thailand? Hell no. I was so scared. I had mixed feelings about traveling alone but I didn’t want to wait around for anyone else or wait until I felt “ready.” Because I knew that would be never. This far in my life, it’s the best decision I ever made.
Most people spend their lives pushing things off until they’re “ready.” Well let me be the one to break it you, you’re never going to be ready. For anything in life that you want to do… for every reason you want to do it, there will be five reasons not to. There will always be people in your ear telling you you’re crazy, you’re wrong, or you need to wait.
The timing is almost never perfect. But if you get in the cycle of thinking you want to do something then backing out, you’ll stay stuck in the cycle forever. You have to be proactive about your own life. Forgetting the naysayers, being brave, growing some balls, going out on a limb… the time to do it is now. Because in reality, life is short. You can’t spend it waiting.
You are never really alone.
Anyone who knows me, knows that my biggest fear before my big trip was that I wasn’t going to make any friends. All my friends laughed at me when I would say this, and now looking back on it, I laugh at it too. During my travels I have met so many wonderful people, from all over the world, it’s mind-boggling. Some will be friends for life, some just acquaintances. If you guys are reading this- thank you for the memories, I love you!!!
I never, ever felt lonely. Even when I was alone. Sometimes it was super nice to be alone, unwind, and reflect. But my point really is, you are never alone. There is so much out there. So many people feeling just like you are, waiting to find you. The universe always puts you on the path to meet those who are meant to be in your life.
Everything changes, always.
Speaking of making friends… so every time I would meet some amazing people while traveling, I would get super sad when my time with them was over. When I was off to the next location, I had to say bye, and start all over again… it sucked! But then I would arrive in a new place and meet a whole new batch of awesome people. I had been so scared of that change, of starting over again, but I had learned to adapt to it and overcome it.
This is so, so important in all aspects of traveling. Situations can become less than ideal. Shit can go wrong. The idea you had pictured in your head may be way off. But over time you can teach yourself how to deal with these types of things.
The sooner you can come to terms with this change, the better. People change, circumstances change, things change. If you can learn to let go of things you can’t control, roll with the punches, and stop trying to control the behavior of others… the sooner you can live a more carefree, happy and fulfilled life.