30 lessons I learned from six months of globetrotting

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“And then there is the most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” – Randy Komisar

1. There is no such thing as the right time for something – whether it’s being a first-time parent or participating in your first marathon. Dive right in and ‘Just Do It’.

2. Travel teaches us to expect less and expect the unexpected. Embrace what comes our way, be open to new experiences and step out of comfort zone.

3. The world is so much bigger than we imagine. We like to think how significant we are in the world but travel makes us realize how small we truly are and that is a precious lesson in humility.

4. Contrary to popular belief, travel is not always fun and glamorous. No one talks about the ‘brutality’ of travel – learning a new language, experiencing new cultures and cuisines, getting past your fear of driving on the opposite side of the road, getting pick-pocketed, mugged or robbed and making police report in a foreign language. And yet I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything else in this world.

5. Travel reminds us that humans are inherently good – I’m incredibly blessed to have met strangers who shared their home and generosity.

6. I learned to redefine the concept of time. I stopped keeping track of days of the week, except for when it matters like having a bus/train/flight to catch or a Skype call. But most importantly, I learned to prioritise being over doing. 

7. A change of scenery and pace is good for the soul. I learned to live simply – wake up and smell the roses. Have less, do more and be more.

8. Take chances (with precaution) and do not follow the crowd. For me, it is about skipping the tourist traps and discovering places off the beaten path. Seek out the unknown for an authentic and intriguing experience.

9. Trust your instincts. If you smell danger, practice common sense and stay away.

10. Travel allows us to connect with like-minded souls who are on the same journey in life.

11. Soak in God’s precious gift to mankind and marvel at the beauty of nature. Whether it’s chasing after Northern lights or catching beluga whales in the wild.

12. Sadly, too many people are mired in decades of life on autopilot. If you were told you had six months to live – what would you do? Would you have lived differently?

13. Often, we think bad things only happen to other people but that’s not true. I lost two of my loved ones while on the road. So stop procrastinating and don’t put on hold what can be done now. Reach out to a friend you haven’t spoken to in months. Tell your parents that you love them.

14. Life flies by when we are ‘standing still’. When I returned from my travels, I noticed that some of my friends are still ‘stuck’ in a rut. A few had taken risks and challenge the status quo but others continue to whine about being victims of circumstance.

15. Some of the most beautiful things in the world cost next to nothing. Go for a walk in the park or a stroll by the beach.

16. Live on your terms and don’t yield to peer or society pressure of what is defined as a successful life. To some, it means making it to C-Suite while success to others is raising two beautiful children. I like to defy convention and thus have never lived by the book. Everyone has a choice and I chose a non-scripted life.

17. Contrary to what many think, more money or possession does not necessarily make one happier. After all, can we put a price tag to new friendships? 

18. Negative experience(s) makes us better travellers. Whether we get ripped off or robbed, it is all about perspective. Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

19. A travel itinerary helps but don’t overplan. Live in the moment and allow yourself the opportunity to stumble upon new places. Whether it’s a restaurant or a non-touristy spot, life is full of surprises.

20. No, we do not need a trust fund or be a millionaire to travel. I have neither – only courage and determination to explore the world.

21. It does not matter where you come from. Ultimately, everyone wants the same thing in life – to experience joy, love and happiness. 

22. Travel provides me the opportunity to ‘educate’ the world of my country and region. I often get asked ‘Where do you learn to speak English?

23. Travel is the best teacher for education is not confined to the four walls of a classroom. I have developed better cultural empathy (like why can’t you understand English?) and traded many fascinating stories and insights on politics, immigration, religion, cultures and many more.

24. At some point, I missed stability (nothing wrong with that.) Packing, unpacking and repacking stuff can be tiring so I started establishing daily micro-routines like visiting my favourite supermarket or cafe. 

25. You’re going to lose some friends. Those back home will rarely understand (unless they’ve taken similar risks) and you can’t relate anymore.

26. As we grow older, making new friends becomes more challenging. Honestly, when was the last time you made a new friend? But when you travel, whether it’s in a small mountainous village or a remote fjord, meeting new people becomes much easier. I have made friends from all ages – from a curious five year old to a 60-something avid traveller.

27. There is a difference between travelling in your 20s and 30s. The advantage of age is that you bring perspectives to the table – doing things your way vs following the crowd. You grow from getting hammered at the best clubs in town to making sure you don’t take things for granted for instance, your health and well-being. 

28. Don’t underestimate the importance of travel insurance. A lot can happen while you are travelling. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it will never happen to me. There are enough stories of travellers being stranded in a foreign country with skyrocketing medical bills. Or worse still – have no money to repatriate a dead body home!

29. You will (inevitably) lose weight. Now that’s a bonus. I enjoy discovering new places on foot and on an average day, I walk at least 5 km (approximately 3.1miles).

30. Lastly, invest in experience, not tangible things. So that at the end of our lives, we have stories to tell and hopefully inspire others to follow their dreams.

If there is one word to sum up my experience, it is the opportunity to gain a new PERSPECTIVE – to be less self-absorbed and to give more and be of service to others. To make a wee bit of difference and leave footprints in this big wide world.

Stay tuned for my next blog post on investing in experiences, not material things.

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