Recently, I shared 45 of my life learnings so far when I turned 45 last month. A lot of the rings which came to mind were also linked to travel so I decided to do a special travel one. Travel has been a big part of my 45 years even when I wasn’t able to travel, I was learning languages, reading books set abroad and also learning capitals when I was younger and getting others to test me.
Here are 45 of my learnings, what would yours be?
- If travel is your dream then go for it, don’t let anything or anyone stand in your way
2. I have only regretted the trips I haven’t taken, never the ones I experienced
3. Travel solo at least once in your life as you will learn so much about yourself
4. Travel doesn’t need to be expensive: It is the choices we make along the way which makes it expensive or affordable. Save up before you go if you want luxury or if it is more important to just go then do just that and prioritise along the way
5. Be a tourist in your own town, region, country first if necessary
6. Travel to discover, to let go of fears and to meet a variety of people, cultures and religions
7. Wherever you go, there you are: Some people travel to escape which is fine, however if you are trying to escape yourself then there is a slight problem as that is the one person you can’t escape. You may wish to deal with any issues you have before you travel unless you know for sure that travel will be good for your mental health and will help you.
8. The more you travel the more you will learn to trust your instincts and know quickly who you can and can’t trust: This ability will stay with you when you’re not travelling and is a great skill to develop.
9. Know when to speak and when to listen: Try to listen more than you talk. I’ve noticed a tendency in people to rush in to talk especially those who are on their own and aren’t used to it. You learn so much more when you listen to others and you also don’t give too much away when listening about yourself, views or where you’ll be staying etc. Through listening it is easier to know if you want to stay longer with someone to get to know them or if you prefer to rush off at the first opportunity depending on their words and attitudes they’ve expressed.
10. The best things in life are free: You can find things to do and see for free wherever you go. Don’t let money worries hold you back.
11. Walk around as much as you can: That is how you will meet people, get a sense of direction, smell the city and feel part of it. Walk around at different times of the day and night and in different weather if possible as it will present itself differently to you.
12. Listen to your body and mind: This way you will know what is best to do that day. Can you concentrate? Are you feeling energetic and up for a walk around or is it best to get transport around or sit with a coffee and and a book to relax. I’ve learnt to not plan too much into my days and to take a break when needed.
13. Do the self-care and healthy routines you would do at home as you will still need these whilst travelling as much as you would at home.
14. Question everything but don’t let fear make you complain/ criticise. Instead question yourself, who you are in that moment, what are you feeling, what does what your experiencing make you think of the situation. you could learn more this way.
15. Only haggle for the fun of it if it’s an expected part of the culture: Don’t take it too far. The seller will always need that difference you’ve haggled off the price more than you ever will. Don’t take them too far just to win or show off.
16. You will learn what is most important to you: Travel will without a doubt change you. I don’t mean a 2 week all inclusive holiday unless of course you make life changing decisions. When you travel into the heart of a country and it’s people be prepared to have your values challenged and perhaps changed.
17. Always leave a place, person and relationship better than you found it
18. If you are the only woman or man in an area/event then be aware of your position, behaviour and dress and be ready and willing to adapt it if necessary: This is not taking anything from you but sometimes it’s better to adapt to protect yourself than push your differences.
19. Learn to be invisible when needed: It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are or how you look, it is always possible to make yourself invisible when necessary.
20. Watch and observe: Take in all the details before you allow any form of judgement to come into your head and even better don’t judge in the first place just observe.
21. Learn the local language and customs ahead of going anywhere and show you know them
22. Dress code: There is a dress code for all religious buildings whatever religion they represent. Wear the right clothes and make sure you are covered up to show respect and if not then don’t complain at the door.
23. Travel light: you will enjoy it more.
24. Interact with people: Talk, smile and ask questions of lots of people, as many as you can from different backgrounds and jobs. If you only talk to the rich and popular then you’ll only learn things about their life so choose all types of people to get a proper view.
25. Get lost on purpose: Go for a walk and make sure you leave the tourist areas as you will learn so much more about the place and it’s people if you go where the locals go.
26. Ladies, if necessary always wear a wedding ring as it may just save you lots of issues.
27. Adapt your budget to incorporate your priorities and what is important to you.
28. Always repay a kindness if possible when travelling and if that isn’t possible then pay it forward.
29. Journal or find a way to keep record of your holiday, travels, journey as you’ll want to look back on your experiences, thoughts, feelings and learnings later on.
30. Always find the beauty wherever you are no matter how difficult it can be and mention that to a local.
31. Show gratitude
32. Acknowledge the good: There are always negative aspects of travel such as delays, harassment, racism, sexism etc but acknowledge the good and make that your memory. That doesn’t mean simply letting negative comments go so if you can respond to negativity and rudeness then do so.
33. Be consistent in your actions, words and interactions as reputation, integrity and dignity is everything especially if you are living abroad.
34. Know how to live the expat life in a good way: Once you live and work abroad you will be called an expat and unfortunately you will be grouped along with other expats whether you behave like them or not. Sometimes you have to undo the wrongs of others who have gone before you and people’s reactions to you at the beginning aren’t anything to do with you but those who have gone before. Some expats will behave badly whether that is in terms of alcohol or attitude but my rule is always ‘If you wouldn’t behave in a way at home then why would you do that when abroad’. Also spend your time with locals, I have no idea why people live abroad and the only ever want to hang out with other expats.
35. Learn from all experiences: A mistake made today and the lesson learnt may prevent something worse from happening in the future.
36. Use public transport whenever you can to travel between cities and countries as you will see and experience so much more.
37. Show respect: Even if it’s not your religion, faith, belief or value in terms of how you live your life. Who knows how you would behave if you lived in that place full time so always show respect.
38. Your travels will always be of interest to you, however not everyone will be interested or indeed wish to ask questions or hear about your experiences so value those who will show interest in what you have done or seen.
39. Always choose the option that guarantees your safety when possible.
40. Don’t buy tacky souvenirs: If you want to spend money in a country then do it properly but don’t encourage more plastic by buying souvenirs. Find a way to contribute to the local community which will help as many as you can.
41. Encourage the young people in your life to travel and explore and if possible take them on a trip. That will be a fantastic shared experience and memory which lasts longer than any toy.
42. Take lots of photos of everything that impacts you but if you take photos or record buskers then at least leave some money for them.
43. Be a responsible traveller: Don’t drop rubbish, be aware of your carbon footprint and don’t encourage or reward any rude or negative behaviour or organisations.
44. Set up a travel fund: If not for yourself then someone else.
45. Always know where the exits are