I’m not too sure on what I’ve been doing for the past two months – but I’ve sure learnt a whole bunch of stuff doing it. I haven’t been backpacking around Europe – but I’ve seen my fair share of places, gone through a whole deal of experiences, and met different people from all walks of life. Spending the past two months chasing dreams, and moving (way too much) from one place to another in Italy and then in London have given me the right amount of life lessons to seal 2015 with.
Travelling makes every little task, such as getting to an airport or finding your way home a challenge. Not knowing exactly where you live, and having no charge or data on your phone to use Google Maps is the right definition of panic.
Moving country, and getting to the airport alone by bus? I’ve got this. When I moved from Florence to London, I decided to go to the airport, heavy suitcases included, via bus. Upon the realisation of what I was doing, when I was already half-way to the bus stop, I burst out crying and told myself I couldn’t do it. But I did – and I promised myself I’d never do it again.
Asking for help
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been the stubborn one refusing to ask for help. I’m the stereotypical husband lost in the woods who refuses to ask for directions. However now I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s okay not to know everything, and to ask for help. People are usually more than willing to offer help once you ask for it – and in the case of many people I’ve met in Italy, you don’t even need to ask for help – they’re willing to give it anyway.
It’s okay to be alone
Regardless of how many people you meet on your travels, with travelling comes being alone. Many of the people you meet are usually transitory people. At the end of the day, you’re usually alone, left to think about life, and decisions that need to be taken. Travelling solo means “table for one please”, asking people to look after your things when you REALLY need to use the restroom at Starbucks, but it also means being in the right frame of mind to think, without exterior influences.
Please refer to the “getting to the airport by bus” mentioned earlier. Anything you buy means you need to take out something from your suitcase to make space for it (or in my case, another layer to wear at the airport because nothing really fits in my suitcase now.)
I’ve stopped quite a number of times, usually looking at the sun setting in Florence and reflected on how lucky I was to be experiencing that particular moment. I guess I have a greater sense of gratitude and appreciation now, compared to the inexistent one I had prior to the start of my travels. I appreciate the help I get from people I meet, but mostly from people back home, because they give me something to go back home to.
“Comparison is the thief of all joy”
Self explanatory really. Keep your eyes on your dream, on what you ultimately want to do, and don’t get distracted by what others are doing.
I’m much more confident now than I was before, mainly because I’ve done things I used to deem impossible to do. Travelling increases your confidence because either you think you have nothing to lose, or because sometimes everything depends on what your next step is doing to be. You learn to speak up, to be selfish (in a good way I guess) and mostly to believe that whatever the task, you can do it!
It’s not always rainbows and butterflies
It’s very easy to dump all your troubles on your surroundings, and to bet you’ll be in paradise once you’re not in that environment. It’s not. Your surroundings influence a huge deal of stuff in your life, including your happiness – but it’s really more than that. Travelling and just changing your surroundings really is tough. It’s constant culture shock. It’s wanting to go home and not knowing where home, as a concept, really is. It’s paper work, stress and panicking and feeling clueless. Some find it worth it, others don’t.
…But there’s a place for everyone
And you’ll only find where you belong once you’ve seen and experienced other countries and cities. To quote one of my favourite musicals, “there’s aaaa plaaaaaaaace for us” (it’s West Side Story for those of you who don’t know) – somewhere where all the hassle involved is worth it – where all the money spent was worth waking up to the sounds and smells of your favourite city.
No matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself
Anything that makes you unhappy back home will make you unhappy away from home. Things that used to annoy you about your surroundings or about the people surrounding you will be replaced with new things that annoy you about your new surroundings and about the new people surrounding you. Ultimately it’s about choosing the lesser evil – choosing which annoyances bring out the best in you.
Travelling really makes us richer. I’d love to hear what your experiences with travelling have instilled in you.