Without exception, the best lessons I have ever learnt in life have come from travelling the world. It is coming up to almost 7 years of us backpacking around the globe, exploring new destinations, discovering fascinating cultures and meeting interesting people. Every day that I spend on the road something happens that transforms who I am. Each aspect of life has take on a new, positive meaning. I look back at where we have come from and how we have changed since those early beginnings and it easy to appreciate exactly how travel has turned us into the people we are today. Like St Augustine said, “The world is a book, and those that don’t travel read only one page.” How right he was…
The World Is Not That Scary
If you believe everything the media portrays, the world is out to get you. Terrorism, bandits, drugs, corruption, unsavoury characters, there is no corner of the globe that is safe! Well after almost 7 years backpacking around the world, we can confidently say that it is mostly a load of crap! I’ve felt more scared in Sydney on a Friday night than I have walking around San Salvador. We were in Bangkok during the military coup and felt safer there than hanging out in Los Angeles. The media paints the world to be scary because fear sells. Don’t buy into the propaganda. It is even scarier to live your whole life in a bubble because news publications tell you to – get out there and travel and find out just how wonderful the world is for yourself!
People Are Good
It can be a little be daunting to trust a stranger – I mean after all, we are brought up in the Western world to fear strangers! But just like you and your friends, most people are inherently good. We’ve been taken in by strangers in Dangriga, Belize who fed us and gave us shelter for no other reason than they wanted us to have a good time in their country. A man in Myanmar closed his shop for 30 minutes so he could walk us to a monastery to make sure we didn’t get lost. When you travel you find out that these kind of people aren’t the minority – the world is full of good, honest, kind people.
The Best Things In Life Are Free
Those days when you hike up to the top of a mountain to see the view of a distant Chinese city or stumble into a forgotten park away from the chaos in Paris are proof that not every enjoyable activity has to come with a price. Good conversations with interesting people, gorgeous views in an exotic country, dancing in the rain, reading a book in a park, the best things in life really are free.
Everybody Is On Their Own Path
There is no right or wrong way to travel, and everyone has their own reasons for choosing the path they end up on. While we were motorbiking through Southern Vietnam, some people were enjoying a luxury Mekong River cruise. There is nothing wrong with that. You do not have to backpack across the Congo to truly experience the world or be the next Indiana Jones to ‘live life to the fullest’. You just need an open mind and open heart. Accept everyone for who they are.
Possessions Do Not Equal Happiness
I used to spend hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars on unnecessary items before my travelling life, thinking that having a new stereo or another music instrument or some flashy rims for my car would make me happy. Then I started travelling the world and discovered the happiest people are those that have very little possessions. Visit a developing country and you will see exactly what I mean! This does not mean that possessions equal negative emotions. Instead it means that we tend to place too much importance on material objects. We should be focusing our energies on what we already have and drawing happiness from things that are available to us. Positive human interactions are more rewarding than any object money can buy.
Sunrises Are Better Than Sunsets
A sunrise is not just a beautiful experience – it also represents the start of a new day. A day where anything can happen. The world is yours! Since travelling the world I don’t think twice about setting an alarm at 4am to go and watch the dawn of a new day as the sun peaks over Angkor Wat or creeps up over the horizon on the Pacific Ocean. Almost everyday we get to witness the sunset, and they are always amazing, but catching a sunrise before the masses wake is truly special. Make more of an effort to watch the sunrise!
Friends And Family Are Invaluable
The more we travel, the further away we get from our friends and family back home. Not just in distance, but emotionally as well. But no matter how long we are gone for, how many years pass between seeing each other, as soon as we meet up again it is like time has stood still. It can be tough being away from family for so long, but they say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and this really is true.
You Find The Best Places When You Are Lost
It’s going to happen when you travel – you are going to get lost. Sometimes hopelessly lost in a place you have never been before. This happens to us at least once a week. However as long as you don’t view being lost as a negative thing and don’t get too stressed out, you can really discover some fascinating places you never would have found otherwise. It might be a little restaurant tucked away down a back alley or a tiny temple with gorgeous murals that won’t ever be in a guidebook. Allow yourself to get lost and will find some real treasures!
The Cheaper The Food, The Better It Tastes
If you spend $200 on a meal, you would expect it to be amazing. If it’s not, you would be hugely disappointed. But if you spend 15 cents on ten samosas off of a street food vendor in Mandalay, and they turn out to be the most delectable samosas you have ever rewarded your taste buds with, you will talk about them for the rest of your days. Don’t be afraid to try the local food.
Learn To Appreciate The Small Things
We were standing in the freezing cold trying to warm up our legs by a fire on a Wednesday morning in Litang, China. A Tibetan man saw us shivering and brought over a bottle of steaming yak butter tea and offered it to us. At that moment the sun broke through the clouds and hit our faces and we couldn’t help but smile. It is the small things that mean the most when you travel. Never fail to appreciate every moment for what it is really worth.
A Smile Is The Same In Any Language
It doesn’t matter if no common language exists between people – a smile means the same in any culture. It is amazing how far a smile can really take you in any part of the world. We’ve made entire friendships with people we cannot communicate with simply by smiling and laughing a lot. There really is a universal language in this world, and it doesn’t take a lot to learn it.
The World Is The Best Classroom
I’ve met people with double master degrees from the best colleges in the world who have absolutely no idea about anything. I’ve also met people who dropped out of high school who can speak five different languages and can comfortably get themselves around any situation they find themselves in. You cannot learn about life and the world from reading books. You need to get out there and explore it for yourself. Then you will learn that the best personal education comes from spending time in the world’s biggest classroom!
I Never Want To Stop Travelling
Not for as long as I live…..What has travel taught you about life? Tell us in the comments below!