Four Years of Travel!
What have I been up to for four years?
Photo taken by Pablo Heimplatz during the Hooker Valley Track in Mt Cook National Park, New Zealand
Traveling through countries where you do not speak the language or know the culture is like standing in the middle of a food fight while trying to stay squeaky clean.
Four Lessons Learned while Traveling for Four Years
If you are considering leaving your home country for a short period or maybe even for a few years, these tips are for you! This article started out writing about my four favorite moments, but I quickly realized that was impossible. Even boiling everything down I learned over the past four years to four simple lessons is not an easy feat. These four lessons learned while traveling, however, I carry with me on a daily basis and never forget them.
Photo taken while hot air ballooning in Vang Vieng, Laos
Patience and positivity is key, it isn’t going to be easy
Everything will go wrong, but you will find your way back
You can compare traveling through countries where you do not speak the language or know the culture to standing in the middle of a food fight while trying to stay squeaky clean. Arriving in a new country or city, you’ll try and get to your hostel (if you pre-booked one) while not getting ripped off by a taxi driver or tourist company. While following along on the GPS, you need to make sure that you have all your stuff with you and that you get off at the right village. This means that sometimes you will get dirty, you will fail, you simply won’t be able to do it all.
Traveling is one giant life lesson thrown at you all at once. This is where positivity comes in. You have to believe and know that 99% of people are good people and they will want to help you navigate through this journey unharmed. But there will always be that one percent that will notice you’re struggling and will take advantage of that. You’ll make mistakes, you’ll believe the wrong person and you will lose your patience.
It won’t take very long, however, to learn how to recognize this one percent. You will learn how this new culture works. You will soon even know when to use the famous “but we’re such good friends” to your advantage! Avoiding all the obstacles thrown at you will make you proud. And oh boy, you’ll learn to love the chaos (or you might not and that is ok too)!
If you are ever going to believe in Karma, it is while traveling. Even when everything goes wrong (and it will), you will bounce back. In the end, you will have met great people and you’ll have an epic story to tell! I’ve seen so many people hold on to the negativity in which they think that somebody will rip them off or that they will get hurt. The truth is that these people often get ripped off or get hurt. It’s almost like they are living a self-fulfilling prophecy.
While it is super hard to get into the positive mind-frame when everything is falling apart. Once you start believing that everything will work out for the best, people will start appearing out of nowhere to help you and, strangely, all the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place.
Photos taken all around Australia while watching the sunset with friends. In order: The Entrance, Kata Tjuta, Palm Cove, Manly
2. Being flexible and open-minded will lead you to great adventures
Time as a money saving method
The biggest asset you have when you quit your job or take a break from the 9-5 to travel is TIME. The second of the lessons learned while traveling is that being flexible in your time will save you more money and frustration than anything else you can imagine.
Everything from accommodation to transport will become cheaper. You have the luxury to pick the cheaper train, the longest layover or to live in long-term accommodation while exploring the area with a base.
Make friends with the unexpected
A lot of us will head out into the world with a preconceived notion of how a different culture will work. We’re also raised to not trust any strangers. While that is super important for small children, I often do think I would have liked to not have built this wall to begin with. You see, the truth is, the bad apples really are that one percent and traveling will make you very talented in recognizing who you can trust and who you can not. I’m not saying to be completely carefree here guys, especially if you are a woman, but a bit more trust in humanity goes a long way!
The life of travel is a life without a rule book. Opening up your mind to accept people you would normally not be friends with or putting your trust in absolute strangers will lead you into amazing adventures. Now, I’m not saying to trust just anyone or to get into a car with absolute strangers. What I am saying is that the average person will do their best to help someone out.
Money isn’t everything (but it sure is fun)
From the action of saving money for travel, stretching your money to travel longer or how to get enough money together when you are traveling, money is and will always be a big part of travel. During the past four years, however, one of the biggest lessons I learned while traveling is that money isn’t everything and it isn’t something that should hold you back.
Getting money together
There are sacrifices to be made for a life of travel and living on a smaller budget one of them. Still worth it though!
Celebrating a friend’s Indian Wedding in Calcutta
Stretching your budget
To this day, however, my biggest worry was and still is my finances. Living a life of travel often comes with leaving behind the security of financial stability and never know whether your next job will turn out well. If you decide to move to a city like Sydney, you might be able to get a job as you did back home. You will, however, have to use everything you learned to your advantage to combat the fact you are not on your home turf. There are sacrifices to be made for a life of travel and living on a smaller budget has been the biggest adaptation for me. Still worth it though!
Leaving is the most difficult part
Your first time
We often feel like leaving is forever, but you (and your family) need to remember it is only temporary. If you don’t like traveling, there is no failure in going home. However, I can guarantee you, chances of packing everything up and going back home after two weeks are slim, very slim! Once you set foot in a new city, meet some friends and have that first bite of new food and maybe even a cocktail, you’re off! One friend snowballs into another and another and adventures are just around the corner.
What about friends and family back home?
While it will never be easy to miss your family, they will still love you even if you are far away. Your true friends will also still be there and those that don’t want a friend that is abroad, hunny, they ain’t worth it. Yes, you will miss some moments and, yes, people will have a life back home without you in it. Weddings will be had, babies will be born and, to my greatest sadness, grandparent may pass away. That, however, doesn’t mean you can’t build those ties back up when you get back or mourne the loss of your grandparent while abroad. Keeping those ties alive will require effort from your part though, after all, you are the one leaving. Good friends are worth those 3 am calls back home, trust me!
Bonus: Trust your gut and enjoy the simplicity
Trust your gut and dive into adventure
Enjoy the simplicity and leave the responsibilities at home
Our 8-person roadtrip in two cars with all camping gear through one of the most remote parts of Australia, Cape York
Most of these photos have been taken by myself, but I have been fortunate enough to travel with a few amazing photographers. All photos taking in New Zealand (paragliding and the mountain hike) were taken and edited by the talented Pablo Heimplatz, the beach photos taking in Byron Bay were composed by Lindsay Buckley and edited by myself.