Before I get into the life lessons of this article, I wanted to first let my readers know that I always use Trivago to book my hotel stays and they have never, ever let me down after so many years.
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.” – James Michener
What I love most about travel is what it teaches you. I truly believe you can learn so much more from seeing the world, from meeting new people, experiencing new cultures and cuisines as well as immersing yourself into the ways of a specific place, especially if you delve into it with an open mind.
Here are 10 things that I have learned from my travels so far.
Appreciating other cultures
Over the years I have learned to immerse myself in other cultures and to learn about different countries various traditions and about the local people and what is important to them. Whether it is shaking their hand in a certain way, dressing appropriately or even learning a few words in another language out of respect, I try and research a place before I go so that I can be prepared.
When you live in London you often witness impatience, sometimes first thing in the morning when you are waiting for the tube. Even if the next tube happens to be in 2 minutes and someone misses the present tube because the doors shut before they could get on, they will often swear or grumble.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned through my travels is that it’s okay to wait. Whether its a queue to take a photo in a certain spot, or to get a table at a restaurant or even something that is out of your control like your flight being delayed, its fine to wait.
If things in life were always smooth sailing there would be no fun in that. Patience is a virtue and you’ll learn to tackle situations as they arise and this in itself will teach you so much about the value of patience as well as make the overall experience that much better.
To be adaptable and flexible
Sometimes things don’t always go to plan and travel has taught me how to be more adaptable and flexible. For example, if we had an excursion planned for a certain day and a weather storm appeared, how to let it go and be happy with an alternative plan rather than letting the disappointment consume us.
That missing out on things is okay
Sometimes you get back from a place and realise you didn’t do something or for whatever reason you couldn’t fit it in. This happened to be on my last trip to Bali where I really wanted to visit the enchanting “Gateway to Heaven” known as Pura Lempuyang Luhur. Unfortunately due to heavy rains it wasn’t accessible by road the day I wanted to go and I felt terrible at missing it but in hindsight it wasn’t the end of the world.
I actually am travelling to Bali again this year and so in the end its turned out okay as I may get a chance to see it this time round.
To leave your comfort zone
I am no daredevil and on our trip to St Kitts I learned how to leave my comfort zone and go zip lining with my husband. At first it was a daunting experience and I couldn’t bear the thought of it but once I did it I absolutely loved it!
I am so glad I was brave enough to do it and this has helped me in other situations since where I say yes more to things that I fear.
How to make friends with total strangers
I used to be a very shy person but since I started my blog I have really come out of my shell and find it so easy to strike up a conversation with a total stranger. Even when abroad I love chatting to people and getting to know them and I feel sometimes you learn so much more about yourself as well as about other people from doing this. If it hadn’t been for travel and going on press trips with strangers, I wouldn’t have made some of my closest friends that I cherish today.
To be more curious and in the moment
I love exploring when abroad and cannot just sit at the hotel or resort. I find that the more I travel the more value I place on wandering in a new place and going off the beaten track. On a recent trip to Verbier, my friend Sima and I went hiking armed with a picnic and a map and it was one of my favourite experiences as we observed so much and just took in so much of Verbier’s natural beauty from our own curiosity, meandering through various paths and just being more in the moment.
To live more simply
Experiencing different cultures and countries and different ways of life has taught me how to live more simply. I have learned that less is more and I have also taken this life lesson into my own home where I have decluttered on a mass scale and like things to be what is necessary and of importance and I no longer hoard on unnecessary things.
I have also learned how to pack more efficiently as well as travel more lightly. I used to take clothes that were enough to move to another destination even though I was going for three days and now I have learned how to pack more strictly and stringently.
To try new things
Travel has really built my confidence and encouraged me to try new things. When I went to Mexico City I plucked up the courage to try new food and I ate insects. Yes insects. At Azul Historico, Chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita’s (who is considered as one of the pioneers of Mexican cuisine) third restaurant and one of the first high end restaurants that opened at the Centro Historico district, we tried Guacamole topped with Chapulines, which are grasshoppers. If no one pointed out that they were Grasshoppers I wouldn’t have even known as they added a nice umami flavour to the dish. They tasted perfectly edible and I would eat this again!
At Quintonil, which was my absolute favourite of all the restaurants we dined at in Mexico City, I tried Ant Larvae, known as Escamoles. The restaurant itself is a must visit and the chef, Jorge Vallejo and his wife Alejandra Flores, source lots of the ingredients from their garden.
Chef Vallejo cooks the Escamoles in garlic and butter, and serves it alongside charred, whipped avocado. This is one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes and after plucking the courage to try it, I can say it was delicious and not slimy, creepy or weird at all! The larvae is so small and not easily identifiable in the dish which is a really good thing!
To find beauty in small things
When you are rushing or being impulsive to see the main landmarks in a country you can miss out on the small things and the beauty in certain places. Sometimes it is so important to slow down, move your head away from your smartphone screen and look around and notice all that’s around you. They sometimes end up being the nicest discoveries and the most unique.