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5 Years, 162,000 kms and 21 countries. 

Heres what I’ve learned.

We are all the same.
We all want the same things: wealth, status, escape, and happiness.
We are all going to die.

1} Don't make Excuses
We all love traveling and exploring. Everyone makes the choice to travel or not. Those who haven’t will always have an excuse of why they haven’t. Whether we think we are right or think we are wrong, we are correct. We will always find a personal reason to  prove our hypothesis. I don’t know where this decision came from, but I never want to find out what would have happened if I never left.


I will-fully choose to  leave my small hometown suburbia and move away at 18. Without knowing anyone, I left California and went away to university in Rhode Island. Four gruelling years later, I left for my first solo trip to Australia. I will never remember how much nervous anxiety I had about leaving or going on my own, but I will always remember getting a little too drunk while applying for the visa and spelling my name wrong.
Everything is a choice and a compromise. I hear too many times, ‘your so lucky you get to travel, I could never do it because…”. I do feel grateful to be able to travel, but I also chose to give up many other life choices. Like be in a stable day-to-day environment. I've learned to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

2} Go solo, at first.
The first overseas trip has to be solo. Even if you are a female. I've met plenty of women who say the world isn’t as dangerous as the political propaganda makes it out to be. Either you will never talk to anyone or will learn to open up. If you go with another friend, you will always talk with that friend. I have met too many people who say they are traveling to an English-speaking country to learn English. All the while they are speaking in their native language with their travel buddy. You will meet plenty of other solo travelers who are like-minded.

3} Fight the resistance
We all have a voice that says one thing or another. ‘Don’t go, you don’t know anyone or go for it.’ If you are thinking or thought about going away, book a flight, find the correct visa and then think about it later. You’ll never regret this decision. Years later I've learned that we aren’t this voice. We don’t have to latch on to this voice. This insight came from a 10 day silent retreat in California. When taught and practiced we can become the watcher of this voice. We are able to watch these; thoughts, pains, feelings, or emotions arise and then disappear. Don’t worry, another one will come. I learned that if I watch these thoughts then I can choose which one to grab on to. This too shall pass.

4} Let go
We don’t need as much as we assume we do. In fact the root of all suffering is attachment. Attachment to external things but sometimes attachment to who we are or were back home. Besides the basic needs of food and water and sleep, we don’t need much else. It’s all nice to have. Recently, sleep has become a big focus and I understand that I can’t always afford a private room every night, but we can always be a little considerate to the other roommates. Never have sex at 3am on the creaky bunk bed in a shared dorm.

5} Learn to Cook
Not only the local dishes but learn a few healthy dishes that can be made quick and isn’t full of processed junk. Garbage in garbage out. If you learn to lead a healthy lifestyle instead of diets that don’t last, you’ll be able to think clearly and enjoy the little moments. It's much better and cheaper to stay healthy and eat cleanly than to be lazy and have all your joints ache from acute inflammation. Then you’ll ultimately have to see a doctor and many anxious hours of desperately trying to fix the critical issue. If there is a rock in our shoe, we can either take the rock out and fix the root of the problem or we can go to the doctor and be prescribed a pill for the pain.

6} Question Everything
Asking where someone is from is traditional. Try not to open up with this question. Everyone has heard it before, and it gets redundant. Where we grew up and cut our teeth shapes who we are and how we were raised. On the flip side, asking someones age is bullshit. Don’t do it. It doesn’t mean anything. Like asking what time is it? The answer will always be, Now. Age doesn’t matter, experiences do.

7} Money comes and Money goes
Money is only a resource. Treat it as such. Don’t hold on too tightly, it’s no good when we die. It can also been seen as a validation but we shouldn’t attach too much to it. I understand we need to eat and sleep but these things don’t have to be expensive. Money will always come and go but as a resource, time is more important. We can never get this back nor do we know when it will finish. We can not buy more time. The same goes for exercise, diet, sleep, and mediation. We are all the same.

8} Less Ego, More Amigo
Tourists are easy to spot and even easier to rip off. You will get ripped off. It's a given. Unless you only go to places that have a labeled price or use a meter taxi. Bargaining can be fun and interesting or the biggest hassle. I've lived in Sri Lanka long enough to be able to understand some of the language and prices of most goods. This is the easiest way not to get ripped off. At the end of the day you could be arguing over something that saves you $1-2. Be happy that you are able to travel to another country and explore the world. The locals need/want it more than us.

Try to learn a couple of local words. The locals love this and are more impressed when you know the local slang. This will also dramatically improve the chances of getting a good price. 

9} Go Slow
Theres a reason zebras don’t get ulcers. Robert M. Sapolsky, stated that even though zebras become stressed, they understand how to release this stress and not hold on to it. We need to do the same. If a train is late or the travel doesn’t turn out exactly the way we expected, we can still go with the flow. In the restaurant industry there is a mantra that I have transferred to my day-to-day and started to live by, less stress less mess.

By walking everywhere you’ll inherently slow down and see more. When intuition speaks, we need to listen to this. For example, if you see something interesting down an alley, just go. Try to get lost. Spend more than 1-2 days in a city. Nobody will ever see it all, so stop trying. I’ve seen too many flags sewed on to backpacks and wonder how much they actually experienced. I can see every country in one day but can I say I saw the country or experienced it? Instead, we can only be grateful that we are able to see something new. Go without always being connected. That's too easy. Easy choices hard life, hard choices easy life. Ask the locals for directions or where to eat. They usually know best.

10} Don't have any plans
When you question your comfort zone, go without a plan. Do not have an end goal. Have an infinite goal. If you have an end goal, you will reach this goal and wonder what to do next. Sooner or later this will lead to depression. My infinite goal is simple, see the world.

 

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