We’ve started 2014 very actively with our travels. After spending the whole winter in Mexico we headed off to Brazil and USA in the beginning of April, and continued travelling around Europe till the very end of July. Half the plan is done and we are getting ready for the next trips.
I haven’t had much time for writing during these past few months, but I decided to get back to blogging after pondering on the travel experiences I’ve had during the last years.
We always hear around that travelling is the best teacher for people; it educates, enriches, makes people better and wiser. So I was thinking about how I changed during these years, and whether this change happened because of travelling or simply because I grew older and became wiser (hopefully) by time. What has travel given me?
I was always a grateful person and enjoyed life whatever happens. I think many people in the country that I am coming from know how to be grateful for what they have (because they don’t have a lot) and be happy with a single good thing they happened to get.
However travelling made me look at things from a different angle. I appreciate things much more nowadays. I am super grateful that I can travel around the world and live well when I think of the many people who struggle to get some money for food or for basic daily needs.
I appreciate the free time I have and the opportunity to be able to work from any place in the world. I am grateful for my freedom, for the possibility to be close to nature when I need it or want it, for the chances to see the greatest sights and arts, for the opportunity to meet people of different nationalities and learn more about the world and its diversity.
I can’t say I was attached to material things a lot. I remember myself leaving my hometown with 2 big bags and a laptop – I had all my life in them. I left my parents’ house when I was 24. Two and a half years later I left my country, taking with me the same 2 bags of luggage…and a bicycle. 🙂
Like any other person I would love to have my home and often dream about it, I feel like decorating it, buying this and that…but then I feel a bit frustrated. Material things create a strong attachment which I don’t like and don’t want.
Travelling helped me to be more detached from material possessions. We don’t have any property. Our home is where we are today, now. And I like it. I can fit all my stuff in 2 bags and I feel good about it. In our family we decided to change our equipment every two years in order not to lose in quality and money…and guess what, I can’t imagine after 2 years of happy usage selling my MacBook Pro, because I got attached to it…it’s mine! I obviously don’t like these possessive feelings and am going to get rid of it as soon as possible.
It’s better to think of possessions as merely tools that you rent and help you achieve some particular purpose, it changes the way you look at them.
Material things are not important in this life. We are born for other things, we have to collect spiritual baggage rather than material. Travelling does help to make me free from my attachments.
3. Strength and Wisdom
Sometimes during our travels we face troubles and obstacles. It’s not always fun to travel (well…it is, but there are times when you feel like crap). Wether you go through positive or negative situations, it’s always an experience and it will add another skill or feature to your forming personality.
During the last winter that we spent in Mexico, we had a lot of problems with finding accommodation and struggled a lot to get a good Internet connection. We were stressed and frustrated because we couldn’t work and live properly, so we couldn’t enjoy the place to the full. Nevertheless when the time was up we were very sad to leave and very happy that we went through all of those troubles, because we learnt certain lessons that will help us during future travels and life in general.
4. Better Communication
Travelling also helped me to become braver and more open. You must have noticed that in many northern countries people are more reserved than in countries with a hot climate. The sun and high temperature definitely influence peoples’ temper. In my country it’s not common to smile to strangers or speak to a person you don’t know about anything if you feel like talking. If you come to Russia you will see a lot of grumpy people on the streets and in public transport (note: people are totally different at home and with their friends). So I was not used to have conversations with random persons, unless I needed to ask something or needed help.
When we travel I have to communicate to strangers and in a foreign language, overcoming shyness and the feeling of stupidity because I know that my English or Spanish or other foreign language sucks.
I have honed my communication skills. I always admired people who could speak to strangers on the street, in the bus, in the shop. I’ve learnt and am still learning to do so. Travelling really helps. First of all, you are in a foreign country, thus nobody knows you and nobody is going to judge. They accept you the way you are here and now. So you can create any image about yourself. And it’s cool! It gives you a chance to change in the eyes of others and in your own.
5. Friendliness and Politeness
When coming to a foreign country the first thing you do is try to be friendly, because that’s how guests behave at someone’s home. You smile and you speak politely. You meet people who smile at you very genuinely and you smile back. You see happy faces among the poverty…and you change. You realize how easy and pleasant it is to be happy and friendly…and it becomes a habit. I am not saying that I am rude and unfriendly when I am in my home country. I was always a cheerful and friendly person. But I’ve changed and hopefully will change more and more.
When we live in one country and never get out we have no idea about the rest of the world, though we watch TV or read news on the Internet or read books. I remember myself going abroad for the first time and thinking: “wow…people are different…they speak differently, behave differently…they have different manners…they are so damn polite and seem to enjoy their life a lot!”. From that time onwards I started to be more aware of what I saw around myself, trying to soak in all the good things around.
6. Essential Knowledge
As travelling is an enjoyable experience, you don’t notice how you learn, because learning while playing is always fun and always easy and you will remember it for a long time or forever.
Those of you who travel a lot know how much you have to learn about the place you are going to and how many new things you get to know while planning the trip.
The learning process starts from the minute you choose your flight, accommodation, packing your bag, and lasts through the whole journey. You learn while observing people of different cultures, different religions and customs. You enrich yourself when wandering around the beauty or ugliness of the place, seeing poverty or richness around you; acquainting yourself with the history, geography and culture of the country you are in.
You don’t stop getting new experiences and knowledge when searching for the sights, museums, temples, beaches or trying out some foreign food. You learn when asking people for directions, making a bad or good deal at a market, helping somebody with your advice or asking a local person to help you.
It’s a beautiful and very valuable experience, which brings you knowledge you aren’t likely to get at school.
7. Easier Perception
Being on the road, sleeping in different places and sacrificing the usual comforts changed my perception of life. I was always a person who takes life easy, I don’t freak out when I need to solve a problem or when I am in a trouble. However staying far from ‘home’, in a nutshell, being homeless makes you look at life differently and change your reaction at certain things.
For example, I am a cleanliness freak, I have to admit it. I go crazy when I see dirt and a mess or when I come home and don’t change my clothes or when somebody sits on my bed…I am too bad about it, I know it. Thanks to our travels I’ve changed, not a lot, but quite a bit. At least now I can afford staying without a shower 12 hours in a row and not becoming irritated. Or I can easily come to the hotel/apartment after a long flight, take a quick shower and go out to explore a city without unpacking things and placing them in order and cleaning the lodging.
Being unsettled helped me to deal with the negative sides of my personality and take life easier, hence – being happier.
8. Interaction and Cultural Immersion
Travelling helps me to feel like a citizen of the world. I don’t feel that I belong to any country. I am a child of this planet and I don’t need borders. It’s an amazing feeling, the feeling of freedom.
Another thing is cultural immersion. I know that I can blend with people. They might be very different but you learn how to interact with them. Travelling teaches you to evolve, to think, change, taking the best from others, share but still be yourself. It’s very important, because it helps in your daily relations with the people you love; your family and your friends.
I acknowledge that people are very different and there is nobody who is good or bad, right or wrong. There are people and we are the whole being. We are all beautiful in our own way, by our color, custom or religion. We all belong to this world and we have to learn how to integrate as we share one home – Earth. We have to learn how to respect one another and love the people around us. We have to learn from each other and share the experience whether it’s a new technology or the way of thinking or the way of cooking or building. Why to close the doors and draw the borders? We are one whole entity, humanity created by God.
Anyway these are my subjective thoughts about travelling and its impact in my life.
I would like to hear from you and get to know what are your thoughts on this subject. Feel free to share your opinion in the comments below. Happy travels!