What Travelling Has Taught Me

I have been travelling for a while now and I often reflect on how I’ve changed as a person due to the people I have met and the places I have been.  I thought it was time to write some of these down.

A smile is priceless

The best thing that can be packed on a trip is a smile.  It crosses language and cultural barriers.  A big friendly smile puts everyone at ease and we know instantly we are good nothing to worry about here.

Meeting children in Zambia

Meeting children in Zambia

The western world is not all it’s cracked up to be

People often say travelling makes you appreciate what you have.  For me I don’t think this is the case, after years of travelling I’ve come to enjoy the simple life and often think the western world has become too wrapped up in making money and greed we have forgotten what is important.  I often catch myself when I have returned from a trip standing on a busy corner on the way to work watching people scurry like ants on their way to work oblivious to everyone around them and think to myself is this what I want out of life?

Give me a beach hut and a bed and I’m happy

Following on from my previous point, I dream of living in a beach hut in Zanzibar and I’ll be happy.  I left Australia with a backpack and managed to see a lot of the world and now I often say to myself “do I really need that” when I’m browsing a store.

Don’t be afraid of strangers

I’ve met a lot of people and had a lot of great conversations simply by being approached by a local whilst on a backpacking adventure.  People’s first reactions might be a bit fearful and what does this person want, I always say hello and give them time.  I met a local on a bus ride to northern Albania who ended up spending the afternoon showing me around their town, whilst in Jordan I met a man from Iraq who told me his story and how the war had made him leave, in Morocco a local insisted on taking me to his home to have afternoon tea with his family, to name only a few…

Meeting Hsad and his mates from Iraq

Meeting Hsad and his mates from Iraq

Give respect to get respect

Backpacking for me is about experiencing the way of life of the locals.  I’m only there a short time and see every opportunity as a way of enriching my own life by learning how other cultures live.  Sometimes it makes me angry and embarrassed when I hear people complaining when they don’t have the creature comforts they have at home.

Ask for advice but make your own decisions

I most often seek advice about a destination and get feedback on what people like and don’t like.  But use it only as advice as I like to make my own mind up about a destination and not be swayed too much into not going somewhere because someone I spoke to didn’t like it.

It’s OK to do what you want to do

Travelling solo for me is great.  I’ve never been scared to book a flight and head off by myself.  People back home will often say don’t you get lonely or afraid of something happening to you.  But they couldn’t be further from the truth.  I meet more people travelling solo than I would if I travelled with a friend.  It may simply be spending the day with a fellow backpacker from the hostel or enjoying a conversation with a local.  I’ve been able to walk into a Broadway theatre and take the last available third row seat at a heavily discounted price or the last seat on the last bus of the day.  I can wake up in the morning and decide on a plan of what I want to do that day without having to compromise or miss out on what I’d like to see.

People are people

It doesn’t matter where you travel in the world, the basics are all the same.  We want the best for ourselves and our family.  Whether living in a bamboo hut or a mansion a mother cares for her children and a father is proud of what he can provide.

Travel brings people together

I’ve met some great people and made life long friendships from travelling.  From sharing a beer in a backpacker hostel or living in an expat community abroad.  Life on the road is like a family as we all have the one big common interest – travel!

Dinner with my mates from Ireland

Dinner with my mates from Ireland

The world is beautiful

After taking my first trip I realised my life will never be the same again.  I was drawn in hook, line and sinker.  It’s like a drug I’m addicted to travelling and am always thinking of where in the world I will go next.

How about you? What have you learnt from travelling?

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