There are multiple articles out there offering guidance through the world of travel. Many of them are focused on practicalities – how to be organized, what to pack and how to prepare. While these are useful, this article outlines the kind of lessons of traveling that sink in slowly through a range of experience. They are the kind that you realize by looking back afterward and seeing life and travel with a new perspective – deeper and more personal. They are the kind of lessons that stay stable and established in the back of your mind, sincerely preparing you, and your mindset, for your next travel adventure.
Don’t plan too much
Travelling is mostly unpredictable – this is why we love it. The spontaneous, random, impulsive nature of travel is what makes it so great. After enough missed trains and lost tickets, the realization that life cannot be controlled begins to sink in. All we can really do is take things as they come. Over preparing is not only pointless but can be restrictive. The best moments often come from routes changed at the last minute or making connections with new people and seeing where they take you. Free and flexible plans are the best kind. So don’t waste all your time planning, spend more time doing instead.
Balance people and independence
Especially when traveling alone, finding the balance between company and independence can be a tricky one. There’s probably a reason you’ve decided to go solo. Whatever that is, it can be difficult to justify when there are many new, interesting people you want to spend time with. Independence gives you the freedom to make your own choices. Plus, it offers some peace and quiet from hyper-socialized hostels. Yet this can be the best thing about traveling – hyper-socialized hostels and the people that you meet there. The best moments are usually those shared, whether with strangers, passing travelers or long-term friends. Like so many things, it depends on balance. Finding this balance is one of the most important lessons of traveling.
It takes time to settle in
Maybe we expect traveling to inspire deep realizations about life constantly. But it’s a lot of waiting around, getting lost and frustrated and wanting to sleep. True, traveling is filled with exceptional moments. Yet a lot of them are very ordinary. This can be disheartening – you might feel cheated from the promise of an immediate life-changing the experience. Give it time. With patience, traveling settles you into a mindset of deep appreciation. One of the main lessons of traveling is that we are in control. It is more about learning how to embrace a moment rather than waiting for them to present themselves. One of my best travel times was spent eating cold spaghetti watching the sunset outside a hostel. Simply because I had no money – no worries.
You will miss people
You will miss people – but soon become an independent and empowered badass. Travelling can be lonely, even when you’re surrounded by interesting people. Sometimes, especially because of this. If traveling solo, it can be hard to remember why you’re celebrating life with strangers instead of your favorite people back home. But sometimes the best parts of travel simply can’t be shared with other people. So many moments are special because you’re doing them alone, without the security of those who know you best. But there are other times when you purely and painfully miss somebody. You can always record or remember it and relay it to the person later. But for now, at least it’s a new experience. Embrace the feeling and know it for what it is – then put it aside.
Balance nature and the city
Another important balance to be learned is between city and nature. This is more a matter of opinion and personal choice. Some people are truly more interested in city life – the energy and drive. Others are content with being exclusively in nature by camping and hiking. But for me, I always need a balance. It can be tempting to focus on city capitals when traveling to lots of countries. Yet big cities can begin to feel claustrophobic and busy, predictable travel routes become frustrating. Yet ultimately, nature is always rewarding and never frustrating. In authentic nature, the pathways are less trodden, inspired by the beauty and most importantly, completely free.
Take it slow
Travelling can be strenuous. More than just an extended relaxing holiday, it can inspire worries over money, time and safety. Slowness helps dissipate these concerns, keeping them in perspective and making them easy to deal with. More than this, being slow helps you deal with situations as they arise. The constant movement needs sufficient thinking about. But it doesn’t have to be stressful. Again, it’s all about mindset and to take things slowly and mindfully is a great one to hold. Rushing around ruins the potential of a moment. Doing things slowly, you might not tick off a long list of activities, but the things you do can be experienced more fully, appreciated more deeply. Don’t let moments pass you by, enjoy the ambiance of every situation. It is all part of the journey.
A backpack is always going to feel relatively heavy on your back, without making it more so than it has to be. Yet it’s not all about the weight. Why do we go traveling? The entire experience is based on sentiments of getting away from the life and society with which we are all familiar. To carry all these along things with us is kind of against the point. While traveling, we have the rare opportunity to live through the immediate experience. Traveling light makes it easier to adopt this new if temporary, lifestyle. By not bringing everything you want, you can realize what it is you really need – one of the many lessons of traveling.
Everything always works out!
This is my motto while traveling. It has kept me calm in a lot of tricky situations. When you’re lost or have no money or are late, even if you are alone and scared, it’s important to remember that things work themselves out. The situation you are in will become a funny anecdote. Or, it will be one of those truly challenging times that brought you to where you are now. Either way, it will be looked back on and placed in a larger picture. In a moment of panic, when a situation is immediate and prominent, a strong sense perspective is a valuable trait. Try not to worry because quite simply – it always works out!
Do you have more ideas? Any lessons that you learned traveling? Leave a comment and share it below!