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.
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 workaway.info 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 duolingo.com 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