Travelling is a pretty big deal. You don’t really realise it at the time but you tend to change quite a bit and learn a lot about yourself. Sure your friends will think you’re going travelling to party every night and your Nan will think you’re going to go visit the museums of the world (you’ll probably do a bit of both), but the truth is, the life experience you get from a big trip is rooted in the day to day stuff. The taking care of yourself, making all decisions on your own, being completely independent – that’s the stuff that develops you as a person in my opinion.
So what kind of things can you expect? Here’s the important life lessons I learned throughout my travels.
- How To Be More Tolerant
I didn’t really think this is something I would learn to be honest. I mean, when you’re travelling alone you have complete freedom to just leave every time you encounter someone who isn’t really your cup of tea, right? Not exactly motivation to become more tolerant. But I didn’t realise what it’s like to constantly live in a dorm full of people. There are people from all walks of life and there is always a ‘dorm wanker’. Then there’s the ridiculously long journeys when you’re held captive in a bus or a boat with people that you wouldn’t normally get on with. After a few of these experiences, I started to unwind a bit and just started being more tolerant of other people’s quirks and differences. Once I became more tolerant, I was a lot happier in the dorm environment and on the crazy buses.
- How To Be More Assertive
I was never someone that would kick up a fuss. I would never complain or confront someone. I’ll be honest, I’m still not great at it, but I became a LOT better at it whilst travelling. You need to tell the hostel that your bed hasn’t been changed since it’s last occupant, or tell the your dorm mate to stop putting wet towels on your bunk. There’s no-one else around who is going to stand up for you so you just have to learn to fight your own battles.
3. The Importance of Body Language
When language barriers get in the way, body language is pretty powerful. More so than you would imagine. Sure you can act out that you would like the bill or ask someone where the train station is, but it’s more about conveying your intentions I think. Showing with your body language that you mean well, and also that you’re not vulnerable. I always try to look like I belong in a new city with my body language so that I’m not a target for thieves.
4. That You Can Always Start Over Again
This is one of the most important ones for me. Once you’ve moved to a new city, got a job and a rented a room, made new friends and basically started a new life, you realise how totally doable it is. It’s not as daunting as it sounds. This taught me that no matter what it is going on, you can always start over again. It kind of removes the fear of whatever I’m doing with my life, because I know that it’s completely possible to start afresh. I should mention that it’s also quite dangerous as every time something goes wrong in my life, I just want to pack it all in and move to another city. Because I know I can.
5. How Fun It Is To Be Spontaneous
I was always a planner before I travelled. But deciding on a whim to book last minute flights to a country I hadn’t planned on visiting mid-way through a trip, really changes a girl. Mainly because it’s really fun. It makes your trip more of an adventure when you don’t have a day-by-day itinerary to follow.
6. How To Be Totally Independent
I had always thought of myself as an independent person pre-travelling, but I don’t think you ever realise how much the people around you really do for you. Obviously if you’ve been living at home there’s the whole cooking for yourself and doing your own washing to contend with for starters. But then you also might have had friends who organised your social life back home, or a flatmate that did a lot of the food shopping. Absolutely everything becomes your domain and you learn how to be a well oiled machine at this thing they call LIFE.
7. Why It’s Best Not To People Please
This is pretty much the nice way of saying ‘How To Be Selfish’. If you don’t want to do something that a group you’ve been hanging out with are doing, you just don’t. You can simply pack up and head to a new city. You don’t like your job on your working holiday? No problem, just up and leave. This isn’t your career. Travelling is when you are allowed to be a little selfish. Doing exactly what you want to do, with no ties to anyone or anywhere and no need to people please whatsoever. Make the most of it, once you’re home those responsibilities come flooding back…
What do you think of this list? Were there any other big life lessons you learned on your travels? Leave a comment below or Tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!