Travelling can change a person dramatically – with every new trip comes the chance to discover new things about both your destination and yourself. Having learnt so much from our own travel experiences, we were keen to take part in this month’s travel link up, so here the team share the biggest lessons learnt from travelling… so far!
Lessons learnt from travelling
Be open to new things
I’m happy playing it safe and am not known for being that adventurous, but the more I’ve travelled the more I’ve learnt that the most amazing things can happen when you’re willing to say yes to new things.
For example, my first trip to Asia was to Hong Kong with my friend Simon. One day he came up with the crazy idea of jumping on a bus out of the city and going on a little adventure. Although it was pretty nerve-wracking heading off to god knows where, and we did get some odd looks from the locals, we ended up having an amazing day filled with lots of giggles. We decided to leave the bus at a stop near a small, secluded beach, where aside from some local men fishing, we had the place to ourselves. In the end that little adventure became one of the highlights of my trip.
Being open to new things has widened my horizons in many ways, including drastically expanding what I eat. I grew up amazingly picky about food, so eating overseas was very challenging in the beginning as I didn’t want to try anything I considered ‘odd’ (and that was pretty much anything)! However, when I finally embraced a ‘fuck it’ attitude I discovered a whole new world of amazing dishes before me. Now I’m the first to try out the weird and wonderful sounding stuff, and most of the time it’s pretty damn delicious!
Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back
I remember my first school trip like it was yesterday, it was an art-inspired trip to the beautiful city of Florence, Italy. The only problem was that I didn’t get to see too much of the itinerary that was planned out for us because I was too scared to step outside the hotel. All the time I was there, I was crippled with anxiety and panic attacks, afraid of this unknown world.
It wasn’t until a few years later, on a work trip to Bangkok, that I fully overcame this fear. Don’t get me wrong, before flying I was terrified, I was going with a group of people I didn’t know to a country I hadn’t been before, miles away from home. But it turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done – because I was forced to throw myself into every single day, every experience and every encounter with our friendly, local hosts. Doing this changed my perspective of travel and now when I pack my suitcase, I’m more keen than ever to absorb the authenticity of each culture I come across – it’s now my reason for travelling.
My greatest lesson – don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back from anything.
Wake up early, but don’t plan too much
I love to wake up early and get out to see what a new place offers on at least one day of a holiday. I find that early mornings are the best time to see places in their most organic state, before the market stalls are set up and the streets are full of tourists, before the manic sense of urgency takes hold and public transport is rammed with commuters. Take a walk, watch the sun rise, snap some pictures, observe daily life, there will be plenty of time to join the buzz later on in the day.
Despite getting up early, I always find I have the best times when I don’t plan too much to cram into the day. When I was in Paris with a friend, we decided on a loose itinerary while on the Eurostar and listed the things we both really wanted to see. We kept it to one main attraction each day, two at a push, and this meant we were free to explore for the rest of the day and find that bohemian café in the backstreets, or secret cocktail bar by the river, or interesting little bookshop.
It’s always tempting to cram in as much as possible into trips, but sometimes you end up wearing yourself out because, even though you’re on holiday, you don’t stop. I try to always take some time out, be that a couple of hours or a whole afternoon, to just chill. Why not take this time out to write down memories in a journal, look through your photos, draw a sketch or just have a coffee and watch the world go by…
Everything will work out alright in the end
To be honest, most of the lessons I’ve learnt are big fat clichés. But I suppose that just because they are lessons common to lots of us that travel doesn’t mean they aren’t true.
The one that has held the most resonance for me is that everything tends to work out alright in the end. In day-to-day life, I’m a huge fan of order and having a plan. And when things don’t follow that plan, I start getting very uncomfortable, very fast. But the thing about getting out in the world is that it’s highly likely that things start to go a bit awry – but luckily all those little things that make are super stressful or make you feel like an idiot when they’re happening are all totally fine eventually.
Whether it’s cars breaking down on Scottish backroads, getting stuck in a lift 30 floors up in Hong Kong’s Bank of China building, entire public transport systems closing during a hot Roman summer’s day due to US presidents visiting or getting stranded in a ticket hall in a Brussels tube station after misunderstanding the ticketing system…I made it through. And those are the moments I now laugh about – and when I’m having a bad day they remind me that things work out in the end.
How to link up your post
No real rules – just check out some of the other cool bloggers; tweet a few of the posts out to your followers that you think they will love and make a few comments here and there.