It’s safe to say that whether traveling for three weeks or three years, everyone will end up learning a lesson or two on the road. Life itself is a big test, and traveling can be a big teacher. It’s what you do with those lessons learned that counts. Read on to see six life lesson every new traveler should understand:
1. Everything happens for a reason
I know this can be used in everyday life as well, but I feel while traveling, this is clearer. You might miss a bus, not get a job, decide to go to one city and not the other, say yes to skydiving, buy a car and it dies on you the next day, or decide to travel with a new friend. All of these experiences happen everyday. But when you’re on the road, these experiences define your life at that moment. You don’t have anything to fall back on. You’ve put yourself out there and if something goes wrong, or even right, it changes the course of your entire trip. Take that as an opportunity to grow and accept the changes being made. It doesn’t matter what situation has occurred, just know that there’s always something behind it. If you can process this, you will be well ahead of a lot of others.
2. Never underestimate the kindness of strangers
Back home, no one really says hello to each other on the sidewalks, or even dares to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Conversations start over sharing a Wi-Fi password, or just showing up at the same time to check-in. The process to get to know someone is fast tracked to hours not days.
With my experience, life leads you to the people you need to meet. This is where the kindness factor kicks in. There’s been countless times on my travels I’ve met incredible people and have swapped hilarious stories, advice, and contact information within a matter of minutes. You have no reason to hold yourself back, and others get to see the real you. But most importantly, I was cared about by someone who knew me for five seconds. This is one of my biggest draws to travel. Majority of the time, everyone just wants to help each other out.
3. You will spend way more than anticipated
This is not a new lesson. Everyone under the sun has written about spending too much money while traveling. I’m just reiterating this fact. There’s a lot to think about when you’re about to embark on your first trip abroad, especially if you plan on living in a new country. Sometimes thinking about the ways money can be wasted gets overlooked. I can say I have definitely done this. I found out the hard way that many items are astronomically overpriced than at home. Not to mention, little things like deposits for hostel keys, opening bank accounts, phone credit, buying any ticket day of, and the random festival you decide to go and blow $300. There’s plenty of ways that your money can disappear in a flash. The best thing to do is write it down or keep track on some sort of technological device. Oh, and save more! If you plan on saving $2,000, try to save $4,000. I know this might not sound realistic, but trust me you will thank yourself when you have the extra money when you have missed your bus or train and need to pay for another ticket. It’s costs like this that you need to take into consideration. Not everything will go to plan and you need to prepare yourself for detours. Don’t be scared, detours end up being really fun and they usually involve a hilarious story to tell.
4. Set Goals
Setting goals does not have to be a big process. Yes, you should be open to all adventures and opportunities, but you should also have some achievable goals in mind. You’ve already bought the ticket and are on your way to a whole new world which is a big success on its own. Since this is new to you, why not set new goals for yourself? I started very simple. I even wrote them on the flight over.
Writing these down made me realize how much I needed to work on myself. I had some issues to conquer, and I couldn’t have thought of a better time to try. It’s great to look at this list now and say that I achieved every one of them. Your goals can be anything. Maybe you want to climb a mountain and not feel like you’re dying, or write in your journal everyday, or learn how to drive on the other side of the road. It doesn’t matter what they are as long as you write them down and set out to cross them off your list. Like the saying goes, “the world is your oyster.”
5. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is emotionally heightened when you travel
This could be a follow-up to #2 where I mentioned meeting a person and a couple of hours later it’s like they’ve known you your whole life. This really happens. Why? Because you are not at home that’s why. Every situation is the first and could be the last. This gives every experience a new level of emotion. Say you meet someone, but they are leaving town in the next few days. By the end of the first night you are already in love (this happens). The romantic answer would be to follow them and travel together and spend every moment of your adventure infatuated with one another. Sorry but it rarely happens. If you knew that you could leave with them in a few days, that initial spark wouldn’t exist. It’s an “all or nothing” feeling when you meet someone special and know it’s temporary. Your heart aches, and you wonder why me? But the truth is, it’s exhilarating. It makes you seem like the world is behind you and against you all at the same time. And that my friends, is a heightened emotion.
6. You will not come back the same person-
I repeat. You will not come back the same person. This is a hard one to digest. In the most honest and polite words I can say, you grow up when you are abroad. You become a stallion. You realize what you want and don’t want, what type of people you like and don’t like, and what you will put up with and won’t. The reason this happens is because you burst out of that bubble called home and comfort. You get to do whatever you want, when you want, and however much you feel like. There’s no one stopping you but yourself and you will learn along the way just how capable you really are. It’s inspiring and ground breaking and phenomenal. And people won’t put up with a baby.
You are forced to become independent and responsible. The best part about this transformation is that you don’t even see it coming. The time that this change becomes noticeable is the moment you step foot on home soil. You will not care about the same things you once thought was your entire world. You will not understand why people have 17 credit cards, you will not understand why you were OK with how much food is wasted everyday, and you will not understand why people consider riding in their convertibles as “outdoorsy.” It’s very difficult at first to see how you are ever going to fit in again and you will get frustrated. You will want to just leave town and take any flight to a new place because you crave adventure and independence. You will start planning your next trip. You will miss your friends you’ve made traveling, and you will feel like they are the only ones who really know you. There’s a lot of truth to that. You let your guard down because you chose to be anyone you wanted..and you chose to be you.
Has traveling taught you any lessons? Let us know in the comments below…