“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St.Augustine.
Classrooms and textbooks can never teach us enough, the way in which traveling can do. As you take the step out of your comfort zone and explore the larger world, you would be amazed to see things that no book ever told you about. There’s a popular saying which mentions that you never return the same as you were when you had left – and you’ll realize how true these words are when you finally start traveling, not to crowded touristy places to click selfies for social media, but to far off lands where people seldom visit. To be honest, I never knew about the hottest place on Earth, until I actually visited Danakil Depression in Ethiopia.
There’s a lot that you can learn through your journeys. With time, you’ll realize that you’ve grown up silently, and inculcated some good habits without even realizing it. You’d start feeling good about yourself, about the way you deal with situations, about the way you converse with people, and most importantly, about the way you will look at yourself. And to assure you, these are the lessons you’ll never forget.
1) You learn to be patient.
When you set out for a journey, you slowly realize that things will never happen at your pace. Buses will run late, trains will inevitably get delayed, hotels will often get overbooked, and flights might get canceled – there can be a thousand reasons for you to lose your calm, but that’s when you need to gather yourself and learn to be patient.
Introspect your thought and realize the fact that you didn’t come this far to get frustrated and turn around. You came to see the world – so relax and be patient.
2) You learn to live a simpler life.
Coming from an urban background where everything is readily available and parents often cross the line to shower with luxuries, you never realize how much fun simple living can be, till you start traveling alone. The first lesson is to pack light and take only what is essentially required. That way you’ll know that half the things you use in your daily life aren’t much required. You’ll realize that at times, having a simple yet hot meal is more comforting than a luxurious treat at fine dining, or just to live at a homestay with a local family gives much more warmth than a 5-star hotel room.
Soaking in the silence at Tsomgo Lake, Sikkim, India.
3) You learn to appreciate the beauty in small things.
When you take a trip, you realize that you don’t really need expensive gadgets or diamonds to be happy. Seeing the sky bathed in splendid colors of dusk will keep you drooling even after it gets dark and the moon shines bright. A smile from a stranger might make your day, or a piece of chocolate shared by your fellow passenger might fetch you a friend for life. It’s really the small things that can give us joy in life and they’re usually free. Traveling will help you appreciate the beauty of those small things.
4) You learn new languages.
Most people across the world will understand English to an extent that you can survive, but you always have the scope to learn a new language while traveling. For example, while volunteering in Kenya, we were spending most of our time with the kids at the Children’s Home and in just a couple of days, we learned how to say ‘Good Morning’, ‘Thank You’, ‘How Are You?’, ‘I Love You’ etc in Swahili 🙂 It wasn’t really a big deal and since we picked up the commonly used phrases, it was much easier for us to greet the locals while traveling across Kenya for a month.
Not just Swahili, but over the years, we’ve also learned to speak some commonly used phrases in Thai, Khmer, Vietnamese and Bhutanese languages!
5) You learn about the past and the present of land in detail.
Traveling to an unknown destination gives you a new perspective that’s completely different from something that you develop by just hearing or reading about the place. The fact of being somewhere new allows you to fully immerse yourself and appreciate that new place – starting from the people, the language, the clothing, the culture and everything in between.
You get to know about the historical events and how it had shaped the lives of the people. You learn about their social norms, political and economic scenario as well as what the people feel about their land and where they see themselves in the globe.
A bunch of Naga Tribal folks whom we met during the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, North East India.
6) You acquire new skills.
Every journey teaches you something new and adds to your skill set. Whether it is about gathering the courage to foster a baby elephant in Nairobi, trekking through the snow-clad mountains in Nepal or learning to cook delicious noodles in Thailand – we’ve been lucky to experience plenty of new things during our journeys.
And we believe that every journey that you’ll embark on, will also have some amazing things in store for you. You’ll also get to learn some great travel hacks – sometimes all by yourself, sometimes from others!
Watching this lady on the streets of Bangkok, Thailand, preparing some breakfast snacks.
7) You learn to be compassionate for others.
When you’ll travel extensively, you will realize that in spite of all the differences & diversity, all human beings are the same somewhere deep down in our hearts. All your prejudices based on race, color, and nationality will subside eventually and all that’ll prevail are empathy and love.
A journey outside your comfort zone will make you more humble and compassionate, to feel other people’s sufferings. No matter how much you read about the poverty and dearth of essentials in the lives of the people in African countries like Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, you can never really understand how bad their conditions are in reality unless you travel to those parts of the world and spend some time with them.
8) You realize the value of ‘home’.
We often take things for granted. To state an example of one such place is what we call ‘home’. During your journey, there might be times when you’ll have to use your rucksack as your headrest and you’ll miss your pillow or there can be times when you’ll miss mom’s coffee while shivering in cold at a trekking camp.
It is all for good and when you’ll return back to that known den of yours, you’ll know the true value of ‘home’.
9) You get to know yourself in a much better way.
You will realize your true potentials, about your strengths and weaknesses, about what you like & what you don’t, and about the person who you truly are. There were so many things you never knew you could do, till you actually did them. If you ask me, being over-weight since childhood, I always thought that trekking is something that’s not my cup of tea – until I met RD and he made me believe that I can do it. Ever since my first Himalayan trek in 2016, I’ve done several high altitude treks in the last few years and somehow, I feel rejuvenated every time I’m surrounded by the mountains.
Gazing at the Swargarohini Peak in Uttarakhand, India. This was during the Nag Tibba Trek.
10) Traveling will teach you to live every day to the fullest.
The day that has just gone by will never be back, and if you’ve missed living it to the fullest, you’ll have regrets forever. While on your journey, each day will bring new surprises, adventures, and learnings – it’s all on you, how much you can absorb and live to the fullest. You’ll meet new people on the road, on a bus, or in a cafe, you’ll observe people of different cultures and much more – everything will have its own charm, adding more to your story. Now, it’s your turn to decide how you want your story to be like! Keep your mind and heart open, and you’ll definitely get to meet some of the best people on the roads.
For once in your life, you embrace the happiness of not knowing what lies ahead. And you realize that rule books are for shelves – Life is right there – Out in the open! If you haven’t really decided what you are going to do with this life of yours or what you want to be in the future, traveling extensively and preferably to places you have never heard of before, is the best way to help you make a decision. You’ll never regret taking this decision, ever in your life!
What are the best lessons that you’ve learned from your journeys? Share with me in the comment section below, ‘coz I’d love to know about your experiences as well.