One of the most exciting ways to learn about the vast world we live in is by travelling. So we decided to go to town to get a few people to share with us their ‘wow’ moments and of course the most memorable lessons from their travel.
1. Naomi, 29
My mom was on vacation in Zanzibar when she met my dad at the pool. You know, life, and indeed love, is so unpredictable. So you just never can tell where and when you’re going to meet that special someone you’ll be spending the rest of your life with. If it wasn’t for travel, I wouldn’t exist.
2. Ben, 23
Hey dude, this is for you: travel doesn’t have to be clumsy. And you don’t always have to cram all your personal effects into one bag. If you need an extra bag, be kind to yourself, get one. Yes, travel light, but you don’t have to end up with a ripped bag all the time, you know. I went on a two-week trip with a small backpack; all I packed was one pair of black jeans (which you really don’t need to wash), and because it’s black it can be used formally or informally. Then five tee shirts, a pair of good-but-nice sneakers, and a blazer. Travelling this lightly makes you truly a traveller; and you can move from one place to another easily without carrying the weight of your past.
3. Alicia, 25
There are memories you just can’t forget. For me, it was the first time I found myself alone in a foreign country. That feeling of traveling alone was incomparable. I was 23 and had shown up in Nairobi with no laptop, no smartphone, no plan. My first few hours there were like nothing I’ve ever experienced, before or after – that almost-inconceivable realization that not a single person on earth knew where I was. Of having no accessible friends, no family, no obligations and no direction. In other words, total, unadulterated freedom. That experience taught me what freedom really feels like – terrible, bewildering and ecstatic.
4. Halima, 28
In the course of my travels, I have learnt the irreplaceable nature of the art of wonder and awe. Traveling has opened my eyes to see other people’s culture in a new way. I learnt that getting lost, in a foreign country, is one of the most thrilling adventures of travelling. I once wandered around Cairo, for hours, and happened to be on streets that looked like movie sets. After a couple of hours of wandering, I stumbled into a vast expanse of land on the outskirts of Cairo and looked up to see the mighty Pyramids of Giza. The experience of stumbling upon a sight as famous as the Giza Necropolis was one I could never forget and was more exciting than if I had just gone directly there and sought out the tourist attraction.
5. Zarah, 22
My most memorable trip was to the top of a mountain – literally. Though grueling and awful, I can now look back and boldly say that it absolutely worth it. I’ve been to dozens of African countries and surrounding islands and my favourite part about my travels is the beauty of stumbling upon a place from which I expected nothing. That concept of “journey rather than destination” came alive to me as I now understand the point of exploring, not just visiting. The most important trips of my life were always the one where I didn’t know where I was going until I got there. What a metaphor!
6. Kenny, 33
Always travel with something to give. Anything. And of course, that depends on your destination, but it’s always a beautiful experience having to give small, meaningful gifts to folks you meet along the way. Souvenirs like caps, key holders, mugs and even candies are cool stuff you could give away on the go. You’ll be amazed by the depth at which gift-giving is a universal custom, and you will never be disappointed by having something to share.
7. Maria, 40
Of a truth, the human element is universal. I have been in areas widely considered unfriendly, where residents are supposedly rude and non-courteous, yet a stranger saw me looking around, confused by my location and offered assistance. So that famed ol’ fable comes alive once again: never judge a book by its cover. Indeed, the true taste of the pudding is in the eating.
8. Chen, 37
Wherever you go, always be wary of pickpockets. Always. Especially at bus parks, train stations, open markets, public squares, etc. Few years ago, when I was still in my 20s and had to change trains in a city in southern Africa, a group of people were all pushing to enter the door which was really the size of one person. I honestly thought we were all just clamoring to enter the train to get seated until I realized I’d been pick-pocketed when I reached my destination and wanted to withdraw some money off the ATM. And suddenly it all flashed back to me. My point is, keep important items in your socks or some other hidden place that isn’t obvious. It’s always good to be proactive so that you won’t get stranded.
9. Jameel, 33
Always bring along a headlamp, especially if you’re going camping. Not only do you have both hands available at all times, you have the advantage of seeing in front of you any time after dark. My friends made fun of me when I whipped up my headlamp the first time, but the table turned when I saw them trying to set up the tent in one hand while holding a flashlight in the other.
10. Dave, 35
If you’re considering relocating to a new place, especially if you’ll be living there for a long time, what a great opportunity to give yourself a fresh start and a whole new outlook on life. Don’t fret, go for it. Yes, it will be daunting and often lonely, alongside cultural traditions, language barriers and all, but really that’s what makes it so exciting. What a great way to give yourself a fresh start and a whole new outlook on life.
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This article was adapted from thoughtcatalog.com and first published here on Jan 23, 2015.