The 7 Life Lessons I learned from travelling
Updated: Aug 28, 2019
“What does travelling have to do with the ‘real world’ anyway?”
More than you could ever imagine!
I recently wrote 7 individual blogs posts that all intertwine in one large blog. After some great feedback I thought I’d put it all in one place…….
Travel Tip #1 The struggles of the journey become insignificant when you reach your destination
Very often, we get tired with the journey on the way to our destination and forget that if we stay the path, it will be worth it. I’ve been there plenty of times, and I’m sure at some point you’ve been there too – literally and metaphorically! I can assure you that I’m no skilled mountain climber (not even close) but on a trip to Japan with my best friend, we decided to climb Mount Fuji. It’s not a climb that requires training, but it isn’t exactly easy, particularly if you’d spent the previous few months indulging in life and eating your way around the planet (Guilty!)
So on the climb, my boots pinched my feet, it grew colder the higher we climbed, my thighs were in agony, the mountain was uneven and rocks would wobble and roll away, which made it extremely difficult to stay balanced. We stayed in a mountain hut overnight, and left out again at midnight to complete the climb – pitch black! We reached the next base and I realised that I’d left my phone in the hut, so clambered back down, in the dark towards oncoming crowds of people. I then got my phone, and climbed back up, with much less enthusiasm than I had started with, and looking ahead at the queue to get to the top I began to question whether it was going to be what I had hoped it would be. Isn’t it funny how we do that? We had already climbed so high, so I couldn’t understand how by climbing a little further it would make that much difference, but of course I had no intention of turning back, so on we trotted.Two things happened as I made the final uphill step onto the mountain; the first was the sheer joy that we’d completed the climb, and still made it in time for sunset even with the phone dramas. The second thing was instant euphoria and emotion that rushed through every pore in my body! It was an incredible feeling, that caused my eyes to water and my heart to pound. The view was breathtaking! We were above the clouds, and the colour of the sky was vibrant and changing before my eyes. Usually you need to look up at the sky, by here I was looking straight ahead; I was IN the sky!
In life, we have unlimited moments like this. We can’t see if our journey is worth it until we reach the top. Had we given up whilst scrambling across the rocks, we would have saved our legs the pain, but missed out on something indescribable, and wouldn’t have had any idea on what we’d missed out on. How many opportunities have we missed because we found the first steps uncomfortable and difficult? There’s a mountain with your name on it, start climbing!
Travel Lesson #2 Be prepared to meet some of the best people in your life
This may actually come as a bit of a shock to many people, it did to me when I first figured it out. The thing is, sometimes our friendship circles don’t necessarily serve us as we grow and develop into the person we were supposed to be. Usually, as a child, teenager and young adult, our friendships develop from our geographical location or educational background. We’re friends with our neighbours, the friends we sat next to at school, the group of people at youth club, and these friends connect with our soul through commonality – we understand each other’s background, our upbringings are relatable and that will never change. It may be one of the strongest forms of friendships that exist. I honestly believed that this was the only type of friendship that I needed in my life; I was perfectly happy with friends and never felt the need to expand my circle.Then I went travelling.
And at first, this mindset continued. But before long, staying in hostels, and sitting on long bus rides, you have no choice but to get forced into and around new people in such a close and invasive manner, that it isn’t long before you realise that friendship isn’t just the people that you share history with, it’s the people that share the same vision and future as you. I grew up in a council estate and moved around quite a bit, many of my friends had a similar upbringing. All of a sudden I was sharing my space and the same dreams as people who’s educational backgrounds couldn’t have been further from mine, and who lived in places in the uk and around the world that I’d never be able to place on a map. But that wasn’t important, what was important was that I experienced FAFS (friendship at first sight ) multiple times on a level so powerful that it frightened me that I may never have crossed paths with these friends had I not travelled. I believe that everybody who steps into your life is either a lesson or a blessing – and I was fortunate enough to experience so many blessings from the people I met. (Don’t get me wrong, I had my fair share of lessons too!) But the experience taught me that what we think is our circle, our life or our future is just our perception because we don’t know any different. It’s so much bigger than we could ever imagine if we just take the time to speak to and connect with people who maybe we wouldn’t think to usually.
We’re social creatures and need all kinds of relationships to thrive, so never limit yourself to what you’ve always known Get out there and find those missing peas to your pod!
Travel Lesson #3 It’s ridiculously easy to take things for granted
As much as we try our best to be grateful, I hate to say it, but we are really awful at maintaining that gratitude. We want something so bad, for so long, and when we finally get it, the value of it in our head diminishes. This happens ALL THE TIME! And the scary thing is that it happens so subtly that most of us don’t even notice! We feel as though we’ve just arrived at a place of ungratefulness, and once we’re there, it can be tricky to get it back.This happened to me while I was in New Zealand on an extreme scale. And I had absolutely no idea until afterwards! I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to New Zealand, but the only way I can describe it is like the movie Avatar (maybe a slight exaggeration) but very close to a fantasy world. Particularly the South Island .
Plush greenery and turquoise lakes that look so incredible that your brain just can’t understand the beauty of what you’re looking at. Brightly coloured sunsets that showcased almost every colour of the rainbow and thousands of stars in the sky at night, caves inhabited by glow worms looked like the entire underground caves are decorated with fairy lights. Landscapes of rolling hills as far as your eyes can see, snow-capped mountains surrounded by glaciers, cliffs and mountains with waterfalls bursting through them. I now can completely relate to those cartoons where the character rubs their eyes with their fists and lean a little closer just to see if it’s real. New Zealand is just on another level!When I arrived, I was constantly so overwhelmed with happiness and disbelief, that I would look out of the window of the bus for hours and hours on end as we travelled across the entire country. I never wanted to stop seeing what I was seeing, I even found it difficult to sleep because I didn’t want to miss anything! I literally felt like I was constantly on the verge of happy tears. Basically, an absolute hot mess – in a good way.
I don’t know when I stopped noticing the views, it happened so gradually that it wasn’t even detectable. I just know that over time the bus became more and more uncomfortable, the stop-off photo opportunities became more inconvenient, the cold breeze began to irritate me and I craved hostel bars more than I craved scenic walks through rainforests and jumping into waterfalls. Somehow I’d forgotten to be grateful, and the beauty that surrounded me became my “new-normal”.
This happens in all aspects of our lives; our new shiny career may seem too good to be true to start off with but soon we can’t stand the long days and increasing pressure of targets, we meet a guy and an explosive romance can soon dwindle into a pathetic flickering candle, we move into our dream house but then then the reality of paying the bills and fixing it up soon brush the novelty of our achievement away.Thankfully, the beauty of NZ was so “in your face” that it demanded me to be grateful and I couldn’t ignore it if I tried. But just think if I had become ungrateful, it would be a metaphor for how many of us go through life. Ignoring all of the things that made us fall head over heels in the first place.
I learned that if I started my day with gratitude and ended it the same, I could never forget to be grateful. Travel lesson #4 You might just discover a bad-ass braver version of yourself
I’m always that person in the group who insists on holding the bags while everybody else is getting strapped into a rollercoaster and getting catapulted around a shuddering steel track. I didn’t admit it for ages because I wanted to seem like I could handle anything, but the truth is, I really just don’t like rollercoasters! I can’t handle the anxiety that builds whilst in the queue and I can’t say I’m exactly a fan of plummeting towards the ground at speed, and let’s not even go there with that feeling in your stomach!
No thank you!
Anyway, because I don’t like them, I’ve always found it so bizarre that there’s an entire theme park industry full of rides that are specifically designed to