They say travel is an education. One you can’t learn in classrooms or in books. It has to be experienced, by going out into the world and seeing it for yourself. After a decade of life on the road I honestly believe this, but like any type of education, I believe you need to be willing and looking to learn.
Ten years ago I took off to Australia for the better part of a year. It was a delicate introduction to the joys, tribulations, and education of travel. Now that I’m nearly 30 and have been to six continents and over 50 countries, I’ve learned some important lessons from my travels. In no order, this is what life on the road has taught me.
1 – Love doesn’t travel well
Travel is quite romantic. When I dream of travel, I think of sailing the seven seas, riding camels through bedouin deserts and sipping nice wine in Paris. I think of travel and romance almost going hand in hand. But when it comes to the reality of travel and being in a relationship, they don’t bode together as well. In all my time on the road, I have never felt lonely in the sense I was missing something or someone. But yah, I’ve formed relationships that have just had to be broken because of my lifestyle. It’s a bummer, and that’s why my experience has been that love just doesn’t travel very well.
Doing what you love is true happiness, and in order to do what you love you need to be able to finance it. I’ve travelled in a huge variety of budget categories, and when I’m able to not worry about the cost of things I always have a much better time. Some may say that they have travelled and witnessed people with next to nothing and they are some of the happiest they’ve ever seen. I won’t really disagree with that, but I do think that even these people delight in being able to afford what makes them happy. Even if that’s just being able to put food on the family table.
Some people go out to discover themselves, others don’t give it much thought. It was never my intention while travelling but over the years I have discovered a lot about myself. My values, my goals, my weakness, my strengths. I’ve been able to use all these things I’ve learned about myself as a compass to focus on which direction to point my life. Travel has brought me to do things and go places I’d never had dreamed of, and certainly shaped who I am today. And I’m pretty thankful for that.
4 – Solo Travel Sucks
I read posts and blogs all the time claiming that travelling by yourself is the best. My opinion is that it sucks – but I agree you have to do it. It’s the only way to actually experience ‘true travel’. Obviously you will not always be alone. You’ll meet people and travel portions of your journey with them, and this is the greatest part of traveling solo. Meeting new people to share the experiences with. The quote “happiness is only real when shared” is infinitely true.
5 – You don’t miss anything while you’re away
There’s this conception that people who travel miss out on things. Like birthdays, weddings, births, deaths, or even just a casual visit. I don’t believe it. Life is going on all day, every day no matter where you are. It’s not even that social media can keep us tethered with everyone’s life updates, it’s that I believe everyone’s life feels like it’s moving at a trillion miles an hour and taking time out of it to visit and catch up with friends and family is hard to manage and not always possible no matter where in the world you are.
6 – The road will wear you out
I’d be lying if I said a decade of moving around the globe hasn’t exhausted me. I have become a bit lackluster with the concept of travelling continually. I’ve come to feel like I need a base and somewhere to hang my hat. A purely nomadic lifestyle is something I could never do. A large part of me desires a permanent place to call home, a bit of a routine and a local community to be involved with. Even if that community is an entire country.
7 – Life is short
Perhaps this is one of the greatest gifts travel has taught me. A decade has flown by and I’m happy I’ve done so much in that time. I’ve learned we shouldn’t let the small things in life go unnoticed and unappreciated. I often come back from the road and find people sweating the little stuff or being overly concerned with such a tiny detail of life. (Like people complaining at restaurants about their fork being on the wrong side of the plate for example… honestly?) There is so much good and positivity in day to day life, and there is just no need to waste life sweating minor stuff.
8 – You can do whatever you want, Seriously.
It takes a while to figure this out but I met enough people that were actually doing this, that I decided to try it for myself. And it’s true. You can literally do and be whatever and whoever you want. Become famous, own your own company, go to space, own an island, you name it – you can do it. Really.
9 – Dreams don’t come true overnight
Living your dream is absolutely possible but it will not happen in the blink of an eye. It also won’t happen in a direct route or the way you think it will. I’ve learned to keep an open mind and go with the flow attitude at times, and a stubborn go against the grain mindset at others. If you keep focused on what your dreams are, you will definitely achieve them. But remember that anything worthwhile does take time.
10- The world is amazing
There are loads of amazing places where amazing people do amazing things, every single day. Even in some of the roughest and most forsaken territories around the world, the sun still shines and I’ve seen people delight in the smallest joys life. Over the last 10 years I’ve seen so many incredible things and had more memorable, life-changing experiences than I can even write down. I can’t explain how fortunate I feel that I’ve been able to do this, so I’m going use the next decade of my travels to try and make the world just a little more amazing.
Have you been on the road for a while? What has travel taught you?