It’s a cliche to say that travelling changes you but in reality, it happens to most of us. The lessons we learn from travel are so important to shaping who we are, there are so many positives to be gained from experiences through personal growth, no matter how chaotic or disastrous the series of events might be at the time! And it doesn’t stop there. I’ve continued to reflect and learn since returning from a long trip, and making sense of the major highs and lows along the journey. Let’s review the most important lessons I’ve discovered from exploring the world!
Just because you’re away from your home doesn’t mean you can’t feel at home. Often it’s not the place you’re in, but the people you’re with that make you feel comfortable. Having said that, listening to your inner voice that says “yes, this is a good place in the world” can make all the difference. In 2016 I learned to embrace the moment, and feel like myself in all sorts of places.
Some things will never change, and if you want them to, it’s hard work. For example, coming home and trying to be your best self and keep up the enthusiasm and motivation you once had is tough to do! Sometimes those old habits just creep their way back in, so if you really want something to change, perseverance and self motivation is the only thing that can do that! On that note: You can only do your best. An appropriate thought for many situations, but a simple one that springs to mind is that no matter how much I’d like to get used to the sound of snoring at the volume of yawning whales, I just can’t. #sorrynotsorry.
It is more than possible to burn dramatically with even the best of tans. Yes, I learned this the hard way. I’d survived January-pale skin in the height of summer in Australia, I’d recovered from straight tan lines circling my thighs, but a simple cloudy day in Cambodia is all it took to make me peeeeeel like no one has peeled before.
Have no regrets. This is YOUR trip, don’t change it for anyone! You’ll have so many people wanting to give you as much advice and as many tips as possible, and when you get caught up in the moment of falling in love with a place, a person, a lifestyle, it’s easy to consider packing it all in and clinging onto that – which is fine – but don’t do it because you feel you have to. Having said that, some of my favourite experiences came about from the result of plan changes and accidentally being more spontaneous than intended, so follow your heart!
Learn to forgive, stay tolerant, and remain patient. This was a personal mantra I began telling myself to cope in stressful and difficult situations, so while this might not be something for everyone, I do think creating a set of simple ideas and traits to stick by can help you remember who you want to be, and who you are capable of being. My stubborn nature had to take a backseat, and I forced myself to calm down and chill out and it made me feel so much more like myself, all thanks to the bizarre and unexpected things that I encountered on my travels.
£25 a day can go a long way, even in more expensive countries. It pains me how expensive even the simplest items can be, and while I’ve never been irresponsible with money, once you’ve been a backpacker you’ll do anything to save just a few pennies. Every little helps remember! Spend time seeking out the deals and pushing yourself to try and scrimp here and there, and you can be amazed at the results. I’d never have WWOOFed or Couchsurfed if it hadn’t been for trying to save some £££, and from that I gained some even better experiences that are worth way more than a slightly better kip at a pricey hostel.
Getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be scary, you can create new comfort if you’re willing to try! I tried new foods, activities, people and more by just saying yes. You can’t like everything, but how will you know if you don’t give it a go? Starting out with something small eased me into wanting to grow my attitude and frame of mind, to the point where activities such as meditation were making such a positive impact on my day to day life that I couldn’t help but continue to try all sorts of things. Just the simple changes this year have improved my mindset more than I could have ever hoped, so goodbye the Suzy who was missing out on some awesome things!
There is no right or wrong decision, so don’t stress over the choices you’re faced with – it’ll work out in the end! It’s easy to get carried away with overthinking and feeling like it’s all turning into a disaster, but by finding adventure and memories and embracing the moment, how can you be disappointed?!
You’ll discover something new every single day, and that is such a blessing. From a new book, a story in someone’s life, a new piece of music, an enlightening artwork, learning about yourself, it all adds up and makes us what we are. This is likely where my philosophical mind is an influence, but I love taking a step back and appreciating all that a day has given me. Whether good or bad, we may as well acknowledge all that life can throw at us.
I had no idea just how lucky I am, to have the opportunities I do. Whether that’s holding the passport I do, seeing and doing so many wonderful things, meeting people I’d never have had the chance to meet, it all has shaped what has turned out to be a wonderful year, and I hope has made me Suzy with many great memories and stories to tell for a very long time. I am so grateful for it all!
So there we go, these are the main ideas I’ve come away having learned from my long trip around the world. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned from travel? Has it changed your opinion on how you’ll plan your next trip? Let me know!