It is my 33rd birthday today and with that I am celebrating one more anniversary. I was 3 years old, when my parents decided I am old enough to go traveling with them (We had an old van, which my dad remodeled into a sleeper and we did one month long roadtrip around Balcans – Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia and Greece. We have mostly done wilderness camping and been close to nature. Ever since than, it did not go a year by to miss another roadtrip adventure.). So this summer it is exactly 30 years since I’ve been traveling around the world. I must admit, the number is pretty impressive.
There are many people, who keep asking me, how come I don’t get bored of traveling. After all, there is nothing really new to me, nothing new to surprises me… But they could not be more wrong. It does not really matter if I travel to a country for the very first time or for the tenth times, it is never the same. I can always find something new, something different. I always can learn new things about the country, their people, food…and also about myself.
Travels do make us richer and looking back to my 30 years of traveling, here is what I have learned:
I was 16 years old, when I did my first travel without my parents and completely on my own. There was no one who I could rely on but me. Years back every traveler needed to be much more independent than today, when we have internet and mobile phones, which definitely makes traveling much easier.
Ever since I can remember, I was extremely shy. I did not talk much and whenever I could, I rather hide myself than talked to people and made new friends. I think my first big break to be more self-confident was with traveling without my parents. I could not hide anymore… I needed to talk to people and find my way around. I guess I was becoming more and more self-confident with each travel I did.
- Language skills
You cannot go wrong with knowing foreign languages when traveling. I was always fascinated in learning different languages and so far I had been learning 6… Honestly, I can’t speak any really well, except maybe English, but just knowing few basic words can open you numerous doors and hearts of local people on your explorations.
Oh yes, you cannot travel around the world if you are not patient. That goes especially true for third world countries, where it is best to forget about time. It is hard at the beginning, but at the end these kind of behavior can truly be rewarding.
- Resourcefulness and adjustability
No matter if we talk about bargaining, waiting for a train/bus to finally arrive, being involved in an accident, having issues with your health, long lines, lack of money…. While traveling, you have to be resourceful all the time. You might be having a plan, but believe me, not all goes according to it. Being able to adjust to new situations can be worth more than gold.
It does not matter if I am traveling to less or more developed countries than I am from, I am always grateful for what I have, when coming back home. Sometimes we take the »basic« things for granted, but when we travel, we can realize that a roof above your head, your own toilet, clean bedding, washed clothes or freshly baked bread, which we take completely for granted is something that lots of people don’t have or even don’t know… Also having time for yourself, your family and friends is something we need to cherish… I really feel so blessed. Sometimes I also get a feeling that nothing goes as I wanted, but just looking down on the things from a different perspective, makes all my problems so small.
Travels are the best teachers in the world, if we just allowed them to be. We have to keep our eyes and hearts opened…opened for new ideas, new cultures, religions, thinking… It is not easy, I can admit that, but just trying to understand different ways of life, makes us richer in our hearts and mind. If you are one of many, who still needs a push to go traveling, please, don’t wait any longer and just go… It is scary at first, believe me, but only until you are at home… After your first step, you will feel better, more assured, happier and proud on your decision. But be aware of one thing… you might be affected with the travel bug sooner than you will even realized… and then, there is no turning back again.