1. That possessions matter.
Travel hasn’t taught me to hoard possessions, to hang on to them, to worry about them, to collect them or to store them. Instead, travel has taught me to let go of stuff; it has forced me to live simply, frugally and to get over the stress of things being lost or damaged.
2. That the world is full of bad people.
Travel hasn’t taught me that the world is full of bad people, that negativity is a given outcome or that most people have malicious intentions. Instead, time and time again, travel has actually taught me that the world is full of beautiful, helpful and generous people, willing to share their home, journey or meal. Living as a budget traveller, hitching and couchsurfing frequently, this point has repeatedly been brought home to me and almost always my experiences have led to an affirmation that most people in this world are indeed good people.
3. That I didn’t have anything to be wildly thankful for.
Travel hasn’t taught me to take for granted what I have, be that physical capabilities, personal talents, material possessions or the blessing of good fortune. Instead travel has always taught me to be incredibly thankful for what I do have and to use these gifts, be they material or ethereal, to the best of my ability.
4. To stay in the comfort zone.
Travel hasn’t taught me to stay in the comfort zone, to shy away from risk or to take the easy option. Instead, more often than not, travel has taught me to put myself our there, to take a chance on an opportunity, to test out my fears or resistances. And almost always doing this, has led to some benefit, joy or new discovery; almost as if the universe rewards those who try, who take risks and who trust. Travel has pushed me to do this and taught me the benefits of moving beyond the safe zone.
5. That normal exists.
Travel hasn’t taught me that there is such a thing as “normal”, nor that there is one mould we should all conform to. Opening my mind, forcing me to encounter and experience different realities and ways of living, travel has instead taught me that there isn’t any set way to view the world or be in the world – there isn’t a fixed trajectory or rhythm we can all dance along to.
6. That friendships take time.
Travel hasn’t taught me that friendships take time, and the relationships can only be established over a period of months or years. Instead travel has repeatedly showed me that friendships can actually be formed in minutes, that chance encounters on buses, in hostels or at markets can lead to lifelong friendships. I’ve only known some of the most wonderful people I’ve met on my travels a few weeks and yet, years later, I am still in contact with them. When you find someone you connect with, that you share an understanding of the world with, time and distance are no obstacles.
7. That you need money to have fun.
As a strict budget traveller, travel certainly hasn’t taught me that you need money in order to have a good time. Instead, many of the most beautiful places I’ve been to and many of the most fantastic things I’ve seen, have been those that cost very little or nothing at all. Very often having to make do with little or nothing can prompt some great opportunities for invention, creation and discovery; the fact that it’s been cheap in the process helps make the wonderful results even sweeter!
8. To ignore intuition.
Travel hasn’t taught me to ignore my intuition, to not pay attention to that gut feeling, to disregard what the voice in the back of my mind is muttering. Intuition can show itself in all sorts of ways – be it a feeling in your heart, a sense of “just knowing”, or a deep instinct that, despite all the odds, something is right – but whatever it is, travel has taught me to trust it. When you don’t know anything or anyone where you are, when you are in strange and foreign lands, intuition is often the only thing us travellers have to go on, and listening to it has proved one of my greatest assets.
9. That it matters where you’re from.
Travel hasn’t taught me that it matters where you’re from or where you’ve been or what you’ve been through. What travel has taught me is that it matters most where you are going.