Two years ago, I left my comfortable home and job in Canada with a plan in mind: I was going to study and work in Spain for a year. I would work on a project that I had in mind, and travel around Europe when I could. That plan sidetracked quickly, and two years later, I still haven’t done anything that I originally planned to do. Instead, my travels took me all over Europe and to Morocco, Hong Kong and Thailand. Here are some of the most important lessons I learned while traveling.
It’s important to laugh, even if you’re offended
While traveling, you might experience some moments that’ll make you feel like you want to run back to the comforts of home and bury your head under the covers. Try not to take them seriously; instead laugh it out. Once, I was in a little remote village in Spain and had some locals look at me like I was an alien. Then, they asked if I wanted to eat their pet dog! I wasn’t sure if they were joking, but I was pretty disgusted and wanted lecture them! Instead, I laughed with the one local who was laughing (probably at my face) and pointed to the dog and said “yes, I’ll eat it!” while making an exaggeratedly disgusted face. I don’t think they all thought I was funny, but at least they saw that I wasn’t going to eat their dog. Laugh even if you’re offended – it’ll make you feel much better.
Your intuition is always right
While traveling, you are most likely going to experience situations in which you’re not sure what to do. It could be something as small as deciding whether to try a new dish (what if you get sick?) or something bigger like deciding whether to trust someone. Always listen to your intuition. Never mind those little voices in your head trying to convince you that they’re just little voices – it can be really hard to listen to those intuitive instincts, but it’s always for the best.
The world is full of amazing people
I’ve had strangers comfort me when I needed it, share their stories and passions without knowing what I would do with the information and spend time showing me around their city. The world is full of amazing people who will show up in your life when you least expect it. Sometimes, you have to find them. Go out of your way to find them and make time to listen to their stories, because it’s just worth it.
The world is also full of not-so-amazing people
The world isn’t perfect, and I’ve come across people who just don’t know what it means to be kind. I’ve been robbed, used and yelled at for no reason! When traveling, keep in mind that you may come across people who will take pleasure in scamming you, hurting you, using you or just being rude for no reason. The only thing you can do is learn from them and look out for them in the future.
It’s better to not plan every single thing
Sometimes, it’s better to not have a plan than it is to spend a lot of time planning something only to have it not work out. When I first left my job two years ago, my original plan was to work and study in Spain for a year. But that didn’t work out as I had to leave it the day after I got there. So, I replanned my whole year abroad instantly, which of course, needed a lot of last-minute changes as it unfolded. Don’t worry about not planning every single thing. Things will often work themselves out – the universe has this strange but cool way of working.
Always be true to yourself
One of the most important lessons I learned while traveling is to always be true to yourself. When you’re on the road, you realize that time is precious and that you should try to put yourself first, which is not easy for me to do. You don’t like something? Don’t put up with it. Want to do or try something? Don’t put it off. Life is too short to pretend or to wait do things.
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