I turned 25 in Bangkok last week. As I sat at the airport and waited for my flight home, I wondered what will travel be like in my 30s, 40s and when grey hair start to call home on my scalp. Travel is the New Black. If you travel, you are cool because everyone wants to do that. It is like the latest piece of fashion clothing that everyone wants to own. If you have watched the American series ‘Orange is the New Black’, you know what am I saying. Social media are full of travel videos filmed in GoPro cameras. They really make you restless. And when everyone starts using their GoPro in similar concepts, there goes creative and originality. The same thing goes for traveling. When everyone starts to travel because everyone else it doing so, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify the purpose of travel.
Here’s what my journey of self-discovery in my mid twenties is about.
1) Happiness is not measured by the number of places you visited.
You don’t feel happier when you checked in more places, you will feel better about the quality of time you spent at each place instead.
2) It is OK to miss home.
Home is just another part of us, missing it is just us being humans.
3) You need less than what you think you need.
Every pound that you drag with you is a torture, so spare yourself that and pack just sufficient. Take the advice, travel as light as possible, you don’t need 15 pairs of shorts.
4) Traveling solo might be the better option.
You don’t need to wait for your buddies. You don’t need to ask for opinions. You can do whatever you want. You get complete freedom and that’s what traveling is about. You want to feel free.
5) Goodbyes are part of traveling.
As you travel, you meet new people and you say goodbyes to the old. It never gets easier but it just gets more difficult and increasing in numbers, especially with those whom you forged bonds with that last for a lifetime.
6) People take advantage of you when you are a foreigner.
A number of Southeast Asia countries practice two-part pricing, different prices for locals and foreigners. What baffles me is that why should I pay more just because I’m foreign. Something that I will never understand.
7) You repeat the same questions to everyone you meet.
Whenever you meet someone new, you realize that you just keep asking the same questions over and over again. ‘Where are you from?’ ‘Where are you going next?’ But curiosity is just part of us. It makes us at ease knowing something about our new friend. Would you really care if your new friend is from Mars?
8) What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Every failures or lessons you experience on the road teaches you valuables stuff that can’t be learnt in the classrooms. You get stronger each time.
9) It’s good to bring a pair of ear plugs wherever you go.
It helps when you need to filter out some unnecessary noises, be it at the hostels or on the planes. It gives you some private time in the audio aspect.
10) Striking conversations with older travelers is a wise choice.
Sometimes we just ignore travelers that look way out of our age group, but in fact they can provide excellent tips and wonderful stories from their travels. I love how those conversations are about non-parties related.
11) You don’t have to travel every single day on the road.
Spending the day at the coffee shop is a day well spent. It gives you time to think about everything.
12) Smiling goes a long way.
Wherever you go, smile. You lose nothing and you might end up with something instead. Smiling can get you out of a difficult situation when language is a barrier. I always do get some kind of free flight upgrades by being friendly and smiling during my flight check-in. Lucky or what?
13) Sunrise and sunsets never get boring.
They are complements to your days on the road, and they never fail you. Appreciate them and you will learn how to appreciate every small little things that happen.
14) You need to write down and photograph your travels.
Some days down the road, you will be glad that you do so. Blogs and photography are the best remembrance of your journey. Keep it up if you are doing so and start doing so if you are not.
15) Most people around the world want to travel too.
When you start talking to people, especially locals, they will tell you how they want to visit places in each continent. It makes you realize you fortunate you are to be traveling.
16) Don’t rely on guide books.
Guide books are not everything, if you want something authentic, ask the locals because they are the ones that have the best information for you.
17) Speaking the local language gives you the advantage.
You can bargain for things, you can communicate with people. You just broke that foreigner barrier, even for a bit.
18) Traveling isn’t that expensive.
There are many kinds of travels, find the one that suits your budget and stick to that. Yes, traveling needs money but it does not have to break your bank either.
19) Those elephant prints pants that’s popular with backpackers in Southeast Asia are multipurpose.
You can wear it to sleep. You can wear it around the streets. You can wear it while swimming. It is that comfortable. It is cheap and dry fast. What more can you ask for?
20) Romance on the road don’t usually work out.
If you meet someone you fancy, remember the reality of long distance relationship when you move on. Most importantly, have fun and the rest will come later.
21) Traveling isn’t that ‘glamorous’ as it seems.
You squeeze on public buses, eat street food and did everything like a local. The only difference is the passport you’re holding on to. But it always seems ‘glamorous’ on social media, even when you are posting a selfie of eating street food.
22) There are no right ways to travel.
Travel at your own pace and in your own way, everyone is different so are their travels.
23) Do what it makes you feel happy.
You are traveling, you are having the time of your life. Do everything or anything. You don’t need to live up to anyone expectations and they are not going to stop loving you because of that.
24) You are getting more and more addicted to Wanderlust.
Travels are like drugs, you need more till you are done. But you will never be.
25) It’s good to know that home is always there for you.
We all return to our homes at the end of the day.
What did you learn while traveling?