What I’ve learned from travelling

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”- Buddha

Today marks three years since I took the decision to quit my banking job and started travelling.

Three years since I first stepped foot in a new country as a solo backpacker. Three years since the definition of “rich” took on a whole new meaning that had nothing to do with one’s financial state. Three years since I walked away from being satisfied to being happy. Three years since my environment, perspective, values, focus, and ultimately my life changed.

Three years. It is surreal to type those words.

45 countries, 6 continents. Tens of thousands of miles, hundreds of flights / taxis / boats / motorbikes / tricycles / tuktuks / camels, dozens of time changes, many rounds of “Never Have I Ever” lost, a few “Wonders of the World” seen. Several “first-time” moments and a couple of “scared sh*tless” moments. A tear or three shed.

Countless memories.
Countless friendships.
Countless lessons.
Countless experiences.

Because of each obstacle, every milestone, and each individual encountered over the last three years, I am humbled, I am inspired, and I am the best version of me I have ever been. My indescribable gratitude for the life I lead is immeasurable.

To all who I’ve met along the way… to those who have been a part of this adventure before it even began… to all whose path I have yet to cross… and even those who no longer walk beside me: thank you for sharing this journey with me.

And for good measure, a few things I’ve learned during this time, in no particular order:

Don’t always go solely off of other’s travel tips; most packing lists tend to forget critical essentials such as your sense of humour, patience, an open-mind & humility. Oh, and just because 294 million people recommend a place doesn’t mean it’s meant for you.

Our children are the promise of the future, our elderly are the link to the past. Value both.

Love doesn’t automatically make the world go ‘round (nor a relationship healthy): respect, kindness, and trust do. There are thousands of cultures, religions, and ethnicities. Embrace them and learn about them. We are all one at the end of the day. I stopped asking people where they’re from, because honestly, it shouldn’t matter.

Capturing the moment is important, but being present and living it is important too.

People are generally kind and helpful. I have been lucky to meet some of the kindest and interesting people in my travels. I met a guy in Cuba who travelled all the way to India to help a poor village just because he saw a documentary about it. A woman stayed with me all night in the hospital in Italy when I got sick to translate for me and help me out. Yes, there are horrible people out there, but there are also genuine, honest, and kind people in the world as well.

Sleeping in beds is overrated. Skipping a late night of partying to soberly enjoy the sunrise is not. Listen to what your body is telling you. Travelling if fun, but taking care of your mental and physical health is key as well.

There is a very fine line between trusting your instinct in order to remain comfortable and facing fears in order to move out of a comfort zone. Walk it regularly.

Travel is as costly or as inexpensive as you make it. Yes, I have spent alot of money in a matter of a couple weeks. I have also gone nearly a month without spending a dime (literally). Don’t let finances or the lack of it hinder you from satiating your wanderlust. There are many websites like that can help you find exchanges.

Sometimes you have to separate yourself from a situation in order to get closer. Or to completely cut loose. Either way, growth is inevitable. Embrace it.

Adding a few keywords in the native language of where you’re visiting to your vocabulary, such as “hello”, “please”, “thank you” and “kindly leave me alone”, will help you tremendously.  There are many sources on the internet like that can teach you all the basic words you need to get around. When all else fails, a smile is universal.

Hearing is not the same as listening, just as looking is not the same as seeing. Be mindful of the difference and the attention you give.

Being negative doesn’t necessarily change a situation. Nor does always being positive. But it sure makes you a lot more pleasant to be around.

Leading by example will elicit change far more often and efficiently than merely voicing an opinion.

Consider your last days on earth. The size of your house, the amount in your bank account, the brand of your shoes, the sports team you follow… none of it will matter. The mark you make, the emotions felt & memories recalled when others think of you, the experiences that will flash before your eyes during your final moments… THIS is what life is about.

We’re all made of beautiful star-stuff, travelling thru this multiverse enveloped in our own personal universe. Never forget how small your problems are, yet how infinitely big you & your energy are.

And last but not least: climate change is a real thing, people. The notion the earth is flat, however, is not – I’ve circumnavigated it a couple times now. Travelling while caring for the environment can be difficult, but try your best.

Here’s to another three years of growth, travelling, and fulfilment!

“I know I was born and I know that I’ll die;
The in between is mine:
I am mine- Pearl Jam

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  • Reply
    October 12, 2018 at 9:36 pm

    I love this post. It’s exactly why I love to travel. Exploring the globe opens up an entirely new world with each destination.

  • Reply
    Fatima Torres
    October 13, 2018 at 1:03 am

    The wonderful thing about traveling is how rich you are in culture from all the experiences you’ve been able to witness. One thing I wish I did more was travel before kids. Fortunately, now I get to travel with them. Even if it’s a bit limited, there are places we get to explore together. And that’s perfectly fine with me.

  • Reply
    October 13, 2018 at 1:45 am

    Beautiful post! I quit my job a year ago, and I haven’t looked back. A few months in Europe, a few trips around Australia (where I am from) and I now write this post from Singapore, where I am spending a week. Travel is so good for the soul, and the world is just waiting!
    Thank you for sharing!
    Alexandra xx ||

  • Reply
    October 13, 2018 at 4:31 am

    The world is a vast vast place. And there is so much to learn from every corner. It’s the real kinda learning. Nothing from the textbook. And what u learn from traveling imprints upon u for a lifetime 😊

  • Reply
    October 13, 2018 at 9:17 am

    I have never done any solo travelling before and hope to try out once after reading your post. You have certainly inspired me to step out from my boundaries and try more obstacle, meeting more friends and keeping valuable memories.

  • Reply
    October 13, 2018 at 11:07 am

    I have traveled solo only ones but it was an unforgettable experience to me. I came back a different person, a better person I believe. It was the moment when I realized my passion for travel was more than real, I knew I will never really stop. And I didn’t. Now I am blessed with a partner to travel with and I am forever grateful we always grow together

  • Reply
    October 13, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    Great post, you certainly have learnt a lot which I guess is what travelling is all about! I need to do more – it’s such a big world out there!

  • Reply
    Christie Moeller
    October 13, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Wow I love this post. Traveling does make you see how big the world is. It expands your mind and soul.

  • Reply
    October 13, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    It’s so inspiring to see your growth from where you have started. Nice share.

  • Reply
    Dominique Brooks
    October 13, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    There are so many different places in the world. It’s sad that more of us don’t get a chance (or make a chance) to see more of it Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Yeah Lifestyle
    October 13, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    Wow, you’ve managed so much in such a small space of time! I think you have truly epitomised why people love travelling so much, they learn a lot about themselves and everything around them too.

  • Reply
    October 13, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    Sounds like you have had some amazing experiences that have had quite an impact on you. Thanks for encouraging us all to travel regardless of money and offering helpful links.

  • Reply
    evelyn hernandez
    October 14, 2018 at 12:33 am

    We love traveling, there is always so much to learn. You are right, it can be as expensive or inexpensive as we choose.

  • Reply
    Donna Meyer
    October 14, 2018 at 12:54 am

    I love everything about this post. You have captured not only the essence of being a traveler. You’ve written the essence of being a fine human.

  • Reply
    Sumit Sharma
    October 14, 2018 at 3:09 am

    Awesome post. Fantastic to see your thoughts on travelling. I am also a travel blogger based out of India. It’s lucky that you have been to 45 countries and still counting more.


  • Reply
    October 14, 2018 at 4:47 am

    This is such a wonderful post. Traveling teaches so much about the world and each other. I firmly believe that we are more similar than we are different.

  • Reply
    Michelle Leslie
    October 14, 2018 at 5:00 am

    What beautiful advice Omniya. There are so many nuggets of truth here that made me think twice about what’s real in this world. Wishing you many more years of travel and beautiful life lessons

  • Reply
    Monidipa Dutta
    October 14, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    It pushes people to their limits and gets them outside their comfort zone. You’ll discover how resourceful you are when you’re exposed to new places, people and experiences.

  • Reply
    Catherine Santiago Jose
    October 14, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    I have never done any solo traveling but this sounds really a wonderful experience to do. I am the feeling that you really have an amazing experience in every travel that you made.

  • Reply
    October 14, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Learned a lot of the same things while traveling! Coincidentally been to exactly 45 countries as well!

  • Reply
    Daphne' Adams
    October 14, 2018 at 11:29 pm

    You are my role model. I definitely have always said I cannot wait to retire and travel the world!

  • Reply
    October 15, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    Traveling can be such a great experience. I’m sure it’s such a unique lifestyle to be on your own meeting people and exploring new cultures. Backpacking sounds so cool!

  • Reply
    Coombe Mill - Fiona
    October 15, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    A post full of wisdom that can only come from the experiences you have had. I’d love to take on a few adventures one day.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2018 at 9:08 pm

    “Never forget how small your problems are, yet how infinitely big you & your energy are” <<–This right here. It's so easy to get caught up in the daily drama and forget. Thank you for the reminder!

  • Reply
    Jasmine Hewitt
    October 15, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    I love this post – you have pointed out so many wonderful lessons. and i’m very impressed by your travel log!

  • Reply
    October 16, 2018 at 12:20 am

    I wish more people could just experience a fraction of this. Travel is amazing, but it doesn’t change you unless you allow it to.

  • Reply
    Kita roberts
    October 16, 2018 at 1:32 am

    This post makes me happy. Traveling in such a way as to experience places as the natives do is my passion. 45 countries! Wow!

  • Reply
    October 16, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    Wow! You have my admiration! I think it is a great thing you are doing and all you’ve learnt during this period makes you richer than most!

  • Reply
    Paula - bell'alimento
    October 17, 2018 at 12:44 am

    This post makes me want to pack my bags! What a huge accomplishment 45 countries!

  • Reply
    Bella at Dear Mummy Blog
    October 17, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    We’d love to move out of our comfort zone and are happy at the moment, but wonder whether we could be happier if we travelled more x

  • Reply
    October 18, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    Yes. we definitely get countless memories and experiences from traveling. Way to go!

  • Reply
    October 19, 2018 at 4:17 am

    Wow damn, 45 countries. But I agree with you on traveling, how it’s something we need to consistently do it because all the experiences and memories we get. And yes, learning basic languages help a lot

  • Reply
    Surekha Busa
    October 19, 2018 at 9:44 am

    Wow, such a beautiful article to read. You can definitely learn traveling around the world like each countries traditions and cultures.

  • Reply
    Kirstie | Share it Sister
    October 19, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    I think travel is one of the most important things someone can do for oneself!!! LOVE THIS!!

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