We've all heard the quotes that get tossed around about travel, especially in the age of Pinterest. Not all those who wander are lost! (thanks Tolkien). It seems like every day I see a beautiful quote paired with a great stock photo, like these.
What I find interesting, is that mostly they're created and shared by people who are traveling, or have been travelers- the quotes are aspirational in the sense that the people sharing them aspire to continue on this path. To be nomads when everything tells us to settle down. To oscillate between people who think we're incredibly irresponsible and people who tell us how lucky we are.
I too have learned a lot through travel. I am more myself in a completely foreign situation than I am in a comfortable routine. Too much stability makes me lose touch with the nomad that I am. When I travel I put aside my need for control, familiarity, and complaining and I just be (the Purpose Fairy sums this up far better than I).
So, with that very long introduction, here are 5 important things I have learned from traveling.
1. Language is a very small part of communication
This is so easy to forget when we are constantly texting, emailing, blogging. But when it comes down to it, nothing compares to interacting with someone face to face. And if you don't speak the same language, if you both really want to communicate, language is not necessarily a barrier.
2. The best way to get to know someone is by sharing a meal or a drink
Why is that? I've been trying to figure this out for years. But without fail, sharing a meal/ drink brings a relationship with a stranger to friend status. If the meal is home cooked, even better! When I couchsurfed (both as a surfer and as a host), this was always my first priority, and the best way to make a new friend.
3. Money is not the end all and be all
What I mean is, don't let money dictate your life. All your decisions should not be based on money. If a once in a life time experience is not in your planned budget, DO IT ANYWAY! Ultimately, in 5 years time, will you be glad you saved a few thousand dollars, or wish you had taken the opportunity?
And the flip side of this is, don't continue doing something you hate for money. If the whole purpose is to make you happy, how is that working out for you? I was at my most happy making minimum wage and living in a 16 share dorm room, surrounded by amazing friends doing the exact same thing. Do what you need to do to make your life rich.
4. Good clothes are totally worth the investment
And shoes, and coats, and underwear. Seriously, learn from my mistakes! I had wet feet for 2 weeks when I moved to Scotland because I didn't have proper shoes. When I finally did, it was the best feeling ever! Which brings me to my 5th lesson...
5. Only bring a carry-on
I HATE checking a bag. It takes longer to check in... It takes longer to get out of the airport... Big bags are a pain to maneuver...
This is my way of saying, only bring what you NEED. Functional basics are the only things I pack- if it doesn't serve multiple purposes, it doesn't make the cut. Yes, in theory, high heels would be nice to have for a night out, but in reality, they make my feet hurt, I would maybe wear them once, and they take up a lot of space.
Take all the distractions away, and the simple pleasures become the best things in the world.
What have you learned from your travels?