5 Life Lessons I Learnt While Travelling The World

Angkor Wat
1. You don’t need most of what you own.

It’s common sense, but learn to pack efficiently, especially if travelling around. When you are staying in one place, you have space to unpack and put away clothes (if you feel like it). However if you are travelling around a lot, living out of a bag becomes tiresome very quickly when you have to dig through a million and one items that you wish you hadn’t brought with you!

Travelling has made me realise how few of my personal belongings I actually need. When you’re away from home for a few months, you leave almost everything you own at home. Surprise surprise, you don’t really miss these belongings all that much! It is nice to splash out on yourself every now and again on something you really want, but I have become much more aware of trying not to buy things that I don’t really need.

2. Capture the moment, but don’t forget to live it.

I take my DSLR camera with me everywhere I go when I’m travelling about. While it is sometimes a pain to lug around, especially when it’s hot (or even cold – numb fingers don’t operate a camera too well!) I’d rather this than be getting my phone out at every opportune moment. I don’t know about you, but when I’m away I want to feel disconnected from every day life. Yes, I still get on Instagram in the evenings to share what I’ve been up to, but during the day I want to feel like I’m a part of the place I’m exploring.

Personally, taking photos with my camera makes me feel more connected to whichever part of the world I’m in. There’s a beauty in catching moments that only I could have experienced in that time or place. Yes, you can do this with your phone, but I feel that there is an internet/selfie-culture associated with mobiles that I’m not really interested in while I’m out exploring. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a selfie! Just don’t miss out on an experience because you are a bit too involved in getting the perfect pose. You can wait until you get back to your accommodation for the night before you flick through all your shots from the day too. Just snap away and enjoy the moment – adding filters can wait until later!

Travelling Rome
3. There’s no such thing as travelling ‘properly’.

I’ve heard the phrase ‘Proper Traveller’ thrown around quite a bit and it is something that irks me. Yes, there is a difference between someone who spends weeks, months or even years on the road compared to someone who has been on holiday to Spain for a week. But for some reason there seems to be a stigma that if you haven’t done a home stay in Asia or shared a hostel dorm room with 20 people whilst carrying all your worldly possessions in a backpack, then you haven’t done it ‘right’.

You know what, if you want to stay in a fancy hotel resort because you’ve saved your hard-earned pennies for it, then go ahead! If you want to live on the road for 6 months experiencing a different way of life, that’s cool too. If you’ve only ever travelled within your home country on a city break or day out, good for you. The world is all of ours to explore and it doesn’t matter which way you do it, as long as it makes you happy.

4. A little language goes a long way.

Ahhh Brits abroad. You know the stereotype. While it is unfair to group all of us into the one category, the fact that English is so widely spoken across the world makes a lot of us incredibly lazy when it comes to speaking foreign languages.

I studied French and German at school and so can just about order a beer or a sandwich as well as a handful of incredibly unhelpful phrases. Other than that, I’m fairly useless. However I’ve found that if you at least try, the locals generally appreciate it. You don’t have to learn a whole language, but learning how to politely ask how to say a few key phrases will get you far. Being polite, respectful and kind is important in everyday life – whether at work, with friends and family or when meeting others for the first time. This shouldn’t change when you are on holiday.

Travelling Porto
5. The planet doesn’t need us, we need the planet.

Ok, I don’t actually believe that this statement is completely true. The planet DIDN’T need us, but we took it for ourselves anyway and look what we have done to it. Because of this, the planet DOES need us, now more than ever, to try to reverse some of the extensive damage we have done and protect it for future generations. Because we humans definitely do need the planet, it’s the only one we’ve got.

The more I have travelled, the more aware I have become of the issues we face going forward. Visiting the Great Barrier Reef and learning about the effects of coral bleaching. Kayaking through Bai Tu Long Bay in Vietnam and learning about the extensive plastic clean up that the local people are involved with in the area. Seeing the adverts for exceptionally cruel Tiger and Elephant ‘sanctuaries’ across Asia…the list goes on.

Yes, I could have learned about these things from the comfort of my own home, but getting out there and having these experiences for myself has made me more aware. Frankly, I care more because I have seen it for myself. I know not everybody has the opportunity to be able to do this, nor does everybody want to. This is one of the reasons I think information and education about climate change and sustainability is so important. We are seeing it more now, through incredible documentaries and films and the power of social media. We are making great steps forward, but we still have a way to go.

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Want to learn more about how you can help the planet? Why not start by reading our 10 easy ways to reduce plastic waste?

This post first appeared at Acting On A Dream, a community of people who share a belief that anything is possible.

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