I’ve often marvelled at the fact that I learned more during a six week backpacking trip than I did during my entire three year university degree. I know the two are completely different things, but still. I find it enthralling to think about the endless possibilities and experiences travel throws at those who seek it. Travel teaches – wether it be good, difficult, challenging, disgusting, exciting, exhausting, frightening, inspiring, or anything else; these ‘things’ we experience are what makes travel so amazing, in so many different ways.
I learned so much about myself whilst traveling, and the person I left as was the not the person who I came back as – I’m a better person because of travel.
I learned more about who I was, because I was put into, both voluntarily and without choice, various situations that I would never have experienced back home. I was forced to see things with an open mind, and from a different perspective, and change my though process and reactions to various things. I was pushed, and tested, and forced to realise my strengths – physically, mentally, and emotionally. And then I got stronger.
I became more resiliant, courageous, independent, defiant, generous, patient, accepting, brave, strong, and inspired. My perspective on life, on people, and about the way I am as a person, were constantly challenged and changing whilst away, and ever since then I have seen things in a different light. Often in a much more open minded and understanding way.
I shed tears, many times, for people I’ve never met, and realised my compassion for strangers and those in need. My heart and mind was opened more than ever before.
I learned that the way people view, deal with, think about and behave in certain situations can absolutely affect the outcome. Many times, Jake and I were faced with challenges and difficult situations that arose during our travels. The way we dealt with things made these challenges not only a more positive experience, they taught us something and became experiences we now look back on, with more wisdom and grace than before. In a strange way, we are able to appreciate those challenges and the lessons we learned because of them.
We became more accepting to the fact that yes, things somethimes do go wrong, or not the way we initially intended or desired, and began to realise that “it’s okay” (Or, as Jake learned to say in Lao, “Bo Pan Yang” – “whatever”) This is something that has translated into our every day lives now; our perspective on what is really important in life is much more realistic these days.
Not only did both Jake and myself learn so much about ourselves, but also so much about the countries we visited! In such a short time, and even if only a small amount in comparison to the big big world, we gained insight into what another part of the world was like, and how the people in it can operate so differently. We learned about culture, tradition, religion and beliefs; about history and war, corruption and sadness; and also about friendship, family, and love.
We stopped taking for granted what we have, after seeing poverty like we have never seen before, and were able to fully realise and comprehend how much we appreciated the lives we have, and the people we have in them.
We look back at our travels as ‘life changing.’ We view our world just that little bit differently now, and we are so grateful. As we plan for our upcoming big trip, we know there is so much that will be thrown our way, and we can not wait to absorb and experience it all. We have 5 months in which to plan for, and learn about 7 different countries, and we really believe in learning as much about the history, culture, traditions and belief systems before we even set our feet on the ground. Lately, topics of what we are fearful about have been coming up in converstaion, of course, only naturally. But, after much thought about our past experiences, I am resolved in thinking about the lessons we can learn, and how exciting the prospect of our upcoming trip is. Some of our most memorable days, most exciting moments, and most life-changing experiences are ahead of us, and that is something I truley cherish.
So, for now we continue to learn and prepare. We’d love to hear your thoughts and lessons learned from travel experience.
Jake’s Handy Travel Tip: What you think you need to pack, and what you actually need to pack, are two different things!