Traveling State of Mind -
Five life lessons learned while traveling for 8 months
There are many things we learned while out on the open travel road for over 8 months, it's important to reflect and share some of the more important lessons. It's powerful going to visits different cities in over 15 countries, so many different languages, different mannerisms, flavors and different traditions. One of the most pivotal elements of travel is interacting with the local people, show them respect and do your best to understand/research the practices of another place. Here's my short list of five life lessons learned while out on a travel pilgrimage:
1. Patience - you will need lots of this if you plan on traveling long term, you will learn very quickly that other countries and cultures around the globe don't operate on such a fast pace lifestyle like the the one we live in America. Patience comes into play in many different ways... trying to communicate with people when your in a new area - be patient, if they want your business/money there's a good chance they will try pretty hard to understand what you are after. Travel days will test your patience the most... you'll miss a train here or there, you'll miss a shuttle and maybe even a flight (thankfully we haven't missed much on our trip) but every once in a while your travel plans will fall through completely - be prepared for this, and be prepared to be patient during the process. We've had a tight transfer in airports where we knew if any delays occurred we would certainly miss the next flight - sure enough, a delay occurred but when this happens your airline should take care of you and help to schedule you onto a later flight (we even got a FREE MEAL voucher out of one of our missed connections - free food was worth waiting around a little longer). Just be prepared to deal with frustration, long days (especially on travel days), and if you learn to be patient it will make these difficult days/moments go a little bit smoother. Patience is something learned along the travel road, you won't be able to teach yourself this one in advance but you'll learn plenty about it once out on the open road.
2. Adapt to cultures - do your research before entering a new region of the world, it will save you a lot of frustration and angst. Grab a Lonely Planet, read a blog post or two about the next region you are to visit (maybe even on one of those LONG travel days) there's a good chance someone has traveled there before you and has taken time to write about the cultures/customs that exist in that area. Learn a few phrases like how to ask where the bathroom is, how to politely order food (without just pointing in the case) and say please and Thank-you when you see others' trying their best to help you. Culture shock is a thing felt on both ends, as a traveler you might feel really out of place in the setting of a local smaller town of Brussels, Belgium but understand that a handful of people may never have seen anyone like you - in their entire lives. This feeling of extreme culture shock hit us hardest in places like India - where people from small villages all over India had never seen anything like us, they were entertained and excited to practice their English with us. Another big piece to understand about adapting to other cultures is that not everyone in the world speaks English (wow really?! you might think) - they might know pieces and parts of what you are saying but they might not feel confident enough to communicate back in English - at times this can really test your patience but understand they are doing their best to help you.
3. Learn to go with it and be happy - Going with the flow is another essential component of long term travel, there a quite a few destinations that we didn't plan into our concrete itinerary that really surprised us. Being able to go with it, and just be happy is really important or you'll never be able to travel long term - throw your plans out the window for a few days or leave your itinerary rather flexible, this can create some really interesting turns and make for some of your favorite experiences of your entire trip. Sometimes the world changes your plans, sometimes your travel plans get shift and totally thrown off - if you just go with it and learn to accept that it isn't always going to work off a set plan or simple rhythm than you will ultimately become a more experienced, seasoned traveler. Remember to always cherish the simple small moments on the road and if your traveling long term there's a good chance the saying 'It's not about the destination its' about the journey' will ring very true to you.
Places we didn't plan on visiting that took our breath away: Thailand, Czech Republic, Portugal.
4. Step outside your comfort zone
In order to grow, mature and become a better YOU out on the travel road be sure to step outside your comfort zone. Celebrate festivals with the local people, when invited to experience food/cultural times with the locals definitely say 'Yes', and never be shy to experiment and try new things while traveling to different countries (within reason). These experiences will end up being some of your most memorable moments - like the time we celebrate Diwali 2015 with tons of fireworks in New Delhi, India or the time we celebrate Loi Krathong with the other visitors in Patong, Thailand where we float our basket of good fortune into the sea or ringing in the new year in Bali at one of the biggest nightclubs in Kuta Beach, Indonesia.
5. Find yourself or find a purpose while you travel and take in the world
This one speaks for itself but we strongly believe it is important for you to discover who you are in this world, how vastly different we all may seem at the surface level but how closely similar we all are when it comes down to it. Different countries celebrate different things, we all have holidays; different countries eat different flavors, we all enjoy fantastic meals; different countries say 'Cheers' in so many different way/languages, but we all seem to want to smile and have a good time with perhaps a drink or two in our hand. Cheers to that and hope you enjoyed reading ~MYT