TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE

15 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Traveling Alone

TYLER LAI

October 7th, 2017

1. Unexpectedness is okay

Some people like to plan every detail of their trip from start to finish to use their time most effectively. Others don’t plan at all and go with the flow.

Me? I like to keep it in the middle. I plan enough to cover the bases then allow for spontaneity. The most memorable moments for me tended to be the unexpected ones.

I’m also a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and that we meet certain people when our lives are ready for them and they are ready for us.

There is no need to stress and over plan. It will play out exactly like it should and everything will be okay in the end.

Let the unexpectedness happen.

 

2. The freedom to choose

Each day is an empty slate. It’s a blank canvas and you get to paint whatever you want. You have the freedom to make it beautiful or ugly.

If you want today to be chill, you decide it. If you want to make it thrilling, you decide it. It can be as mellow or as adventurous as you want. You get to decide every single aspect of how your day goes.

In fact, you can decide other areas of your life. Toxic friends? Make new ones. Bad job? Quit. Bad relationship? End it. Bad health? Workout. It is that simple.

Embrace the freedom to choose.

 

3. Time and health

These two things are our most valuable, yet finite possessions. Once they run out, they run out. You can never get them back. You can’t borrow health from a friend. You can’t ask the universe if you can do rollover minutes. It doesn’t work that way. Sucks right?

I know during my travels I am able to explore and enjoy it because I still have these two things. I also know that one day I won’t.

Be very careful of what you do with your time and health.

This means being extremely picky about who you spend time with, what you do with your time, and doing your best to keep your health in good shape. Good health leads to a longer life, which means more time.

Once time and health run out it’s over. Literally.

Savor and prolong it.

 

4. Raw conversations

If you meet the right people you can have the rawest conversations, full of openness and vulnerabilities. You’ll be free to speak your mind without any judgment.

I’ve been lucky and encountered this a few times while traveling.

Maybe it’s the fact that we knew in the back of our heads that the likelihood of us meeting again was slim or maybe it’s the fact that we didn’t really know one another in the way our friends and family do so there are no pre-judgments.

Whatever it is, in a sea of small talks, it’s refreshing to have these raw conversations every once in a while.

We sat there and shared our stories, beliefs, and dreams until the moon set and the sun came up.

It was amazing. One human connecting with another.

This is a small part of what life is about.

 

5. Be who you want to be

Out of sight, out of mind.

Through travel or whatever means, sometimes it’s a good idea to step away from certain people who try to mold you into who they want you to be.

They will try to project their dreams onto you and tell you it’s what you want in life. They want to see their dreams fulfilled through you.

Is it selfish of them to do this? Yes.

Is it selfish of you to ignore them and do your own thing? Yes.

But on your death bed, you’re going to have life flash before your eyes. Would you rather it be a life manufactured for you or one you made for yourself?

Once you’re away from all the noise you’ll see more clearly who you want to be. You’ll hear your inner voice much louder when the external ones are muffled.

Listen to that voice it knows you the best. It always has and always will.

 

6. You’ll learn quick

Real quick.

There’s a sense of safety when you do things in places where you’re most comfortable. You know there are people who will help you and bail you out in tight situations.

But when you’re alone in a brand new world with all familiar faces literally thousands of miles away, you have no choice but to learn each mistake quickly.

Take a wrong turn? After being lost for hours, you’ll learn. Got scammed? You’ll never forget it. Ate something that turned your stomach upside down? You’ll definitely remember that one.

Whatever it is, there’s no need to be afraid because you’ll learn. You’ll always learn. And eventually, the scary unknown will become the not so scary familiar and you’ll be fine all over again.

 

7. Discover who’s important

When you’re away for a long time you’ll sometimes have slow periods. You’re laying there staring at the blank ceiling thinking to yourself.

You’ll start to see who you really think about during these quiet times. You’ll see who’s still there by your side (figuratively).

At home, we’re always surrounded by a lot of people. Most will come in and out. Some will stay a bit longer. Some will revisit later in the future. Not all of them will be good for us. And to be frank, most of them will not play important roles in our lives and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The people who matter will understand you and will be there to the very end.

 

8. Enjoy your own company

Actually, for this one, I’ve always been somewhat of a loner. Surprise right? I like to do things off on my own, but I know there are others who constantly need people in their lives.

Traveling solo gives you a chance to learn to appreciate your own company. Enjoy time with yourself, with your own thoughts, and the fact that you can actually have a good time despite being by yourself.

If you can’t enjoy your own company how are other people suppose to? If your thoughts in your private moments are negative, make a conscious effort to change that.

It takes time, but it’ll get there.

 

9. Appreciate fear

It was scary for me to step out of the airport and not recognize a single character on the buildings, a word being spoken, and anyone for that matter.

I stood there. Paused. And took a breather.

I soaked it all in. The nerves. The fear. The excitement. I then realized, “Hey I’m still here. I’m still okay.”

Fear quickly went away and I was…happy.

A lot of times we let thought scare us more than anything. Isn’t it funny how something that doesn’t even exist can paralyze us so much from doing something?

We automatically assume we won’t be able to pull it off. We surrender to the fearful idea before even trying.

How many life-changing opportunities were never fulfilled because of this?

Let fear enter. Experience it. Appreciate it for what it is. Then let it go and take action.

Always take action.

 

10. All downs are temporary

If you think traveling alone is 100% rainbows and butterflies, you’re going to be in for a shock.

This silly, roller-coaster life of ours has so many ups and downs sometimes it’s so thrilling it makes my toes curl. Other times the downs are so bad it makes me sick to my stomach.

But those down moments are those evil necessities. How can we appreciate an up moment if we never met a down one?

All downs are followed by an up. Every. Single. Time. Sooner or later, there will be an up. Don’t question it. Just believe it.

The secret to getting through the bigger, longer downs is to stay hopeful for the future, beautiful ups.

 

11. The right people

We can’t help the cards we are dealt. We can’t control the environment and people we received from the beginning.

We do our best and make the most of it. We connect with them because they’re there. We’ve known them for years from the same neighborhood, school, and work.

It’s living life on the default settings.

Then one day you travel and meet strangers outside of your normal life by happenstance and out of the blue, you click with them effortlessly. You connect so much more naturally and deeply.

All of a sudden it’s like life’s settings were tweaked and personalized specifically for you.

These are the right people. They’re out there all over the world. And when you bump into them you’ll know instantly.

Seek to find the right people. Don’t just settle for the ones given to you.

 

12. Look past the container

Our bodies are these meaty, fleshy containers for who we really are inside. Soul, spirit, consciousness, mind—it’s many names for the same idea.

Learning to see pass the container and beyond race, gender, occupational titles, lifestyles, looks and seeing a person for who they really are at their core is how you can learn to love and appreciate another human being despite the superficial.

Is it always easy? Nope. But I make a conscious effort.

You’ll be surprised what deep insight a small child can have or what wisdom your Uber driver may know.

 

13. Happiness is subjective

Everyone’s definition of happiness is different.

It took me a really long time to understand this. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to live a simple life.

Why not live boldly?

Do big things?

Be grand and explore every nook of the world?

Isn’t that a much more rich and fulfilling life?

As it turns out, not necessarily.

Each person has already placed a priority on certain factors they see as valuable for their own lives.

For me, those ideas listed are high priorities, but for someone else, it might be the exact opposite and I had to learn that that’s okay.

Figuring out what makes our soul tick is 100% our responsibility. We don’t need to force anyone to adopt our version of happiness because one size definitely does not fit all.

I figured out my happiness for now. Maybe it will change with time.

Have you figured out yours?

 

14. It’s all made up

The truth is…no one knows the truth.

Your neighbor is making it up. Your siblings, your parents, your boyfriend, girlfriend, boss, world and religious leaders—everyone is making it all up as we go along.

No one really has this life thing figured out.

We think we should go to school, get good grades, get a good job, get a house, get married, pop out a kid or two, watch them go through the same process and rinse and repeat for the next generation and the next. But the world is so complex and life is so mysterious.

Like happiness, there is no one size fit all. This cookie cutter life plan isn’t going to work for everyone.

Ultimately, no one knows how it should be done. There is no right or wrong way to live your life.

 

15. The world’s a mirror

Have you ever noticed whatever you give out to the world, you’ll get back in return?

Showing a little bit of negativity or sass? You better prepare for some salt coming your way.

Showing genuine care and appreciation? Get ready to be pampered right back.

Life’s funny like that. I mean, people are funny like that. We like people who are nice to us. We naturally become nice to them in return. We feel what people dish out.

The world’s one big, shiny mirror reflecting the vibes we’re sending out.

“You give hate to the world, it will give you hate back. You give love to the world, it will give love back. You give happiness to the world, it will give you happiness back.”

-A random monk

What do you think?

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