10 things I wish I knew before I started traveling
I’ve spent over 1,000 days traveling and living abroad, and while some of those days I feel equipped to run a nation, at other times, I’m a mere breakdown away from resorting to pampers. The happy medium in there reminds me that the growth has been incredible over time.
1. Become a “yes” gal. They make for the best stories.
I met Dace from San Francisco while traveling in Jordan, and when we were swapping stories, he reminded me of the importance of being a “yes” man. And how saying “yes” to every offer and conversation led to one of the most unforgettable days he’s ever had while traveling. And I couldn’t agree more.
Invited for lunch by customs officers at the border in Cyprus? I said YES.
Climb a dangerously steep, massive rock to watch the sunset in Petra? I said YES.
Explore a new city with someone you know from Instagram? ALWAYS SAY YES.
2. Learn to let the universe play its course.
Missed your flight? It happens! Stay an extra day and do something ridiculous and unforgettable. Get super lost? Good news! There’s something everywhere you turn, so you’re never technically “lost”, just completely opposite of where you initially intended to go. The hot guy you met has just left? No worries! He probably has a girlfriend, and was looking for an excuse to cheat on her. Dodged a bullet there, soldier. Chat it up with the other guy who’s been eyeing you instead.
Whether it’s patience, resourcefulness, or destiny that the universe is trying to show and teach you, allow it to do its job. If everything always went as planned, we’d all be billionaires, right?
3. Surround yourself with like-minded travelers.
As someone who spends her days constantly pouring inspiration, motivation, and empowering words into the lives of others, you get to a point where you exhaust all your energy and need to be refueled by the words and inspiration of like-minded people. If you drain your mind of all the hope and encouragement you constantly give others, then there’s nothing left for you. Seek mentorship and surround yourself with those who fan your flames, not extinguish them.
4. Don’t ignore your anxiety/stress/depression.
Life happens to everyone, and it’s important to look after your mental health just as much as your physical health. Don’t ignore your depression if/when it comes. Sometimes, there will be no cause of it. Sometimes, you won’t know who to talk to. Sometimes, you won’t want anyone to talk to. But be sure to do something that’s actively fighting it. You are not above getting help for anything you go through just because your life is coveted or romanticized by others.
5. Know your privilege and don’t abuse it.
Whether it’s your privilege of traveling without visas based on your nationality, your privilege of not getting randomly stopped and checked for papers, or even your privilege that allows you to afford this lifestyle.
Keep your privilege in check and don’t ever mistake it as an unwavering right.
6. Call your mom.
Check in with her as often as possible. Any way you can. Calls. Texts. Photos. Skype. Whatever. There is no such thing as over-calling the woman who brought you into the world that you’re currently exploring.
7. Document everything. In multiple ways.
Journal. Blog. Video. Photos. Letters. Postcards. Stamps. Anything! It’ll be SO valuable [for you] down the line. The one thing you’re promised is your nows and todays. So document them! Remember them in their purest form by writing and recording those moments you want to keep forever.
I wish I took more video of my travels back in 2012. Video is as raw as it gets and whether you do anything with it or not, you’ll have something to laugh and reminisce over years from now when Facebook reminds you that this cyber gold still exists.
8. Don’t confuse a magical moment for a magical guy.
Ah, yes. The inevitable. Falling in love on the road. You’re sitting on a hilltop, overlooking the sea, fireworks lighting up the sky from some random local festival that gave you another excuse to drink, and you’re sharing that moment with a guy you met a few hours ago. All of a sudden, you’re planning out your exotic happily-ever-after when he’ll just turn out to be a miserably-never-again. You ignored the red flags, because when in Rome, right?! Wrong. Because you’re in Barcelona. But also, no.
Follow your heart, but take your brain and morals with you. I promise you, the two can coexist despite what our Jersey Shore generation wants you to believe.
9. Good people are everywhere.
The amount of strangers, locals, and guardian angels I’ve encountered on the road, are enough to remind me that 99.9% of the human race is innately good. We all love and hurt the same, and when we put our differences aside, we’re so much more alike than we think. Before the world was separated by invisible borders and nationalist movements, we all existed as one, and the random acts of kindness I receive daily on the road, are great reminders of that.
10. Travel for more than just the fun of it.
Travel to learn. To challenge yourself. To earn trust. To make friends. To lose friends. To experience heartache. Poverty. Refugees. Corruption. Politics. Travel to change more than just your profile picture, because there is so much to gain from this invaluable experience.
This article was originally published on The Blog Abroad and is reposted here with permission.