After 2 years of traveling the world, I would love to summarize ten of my insights I got to understand and learn.
1) You are never alone
Even if you are traveling alone, you are always surrounded by people.
No matter where you are. In hostels, night markets or sometimes even restaurants it is very easy to make new friendships.
And one more fact: German people are everywhere.
Yet in an isolated remote area, I wouldn’t be surprised if my table-mate would start to speak German.
Germans are among Japanese and Chinese people one of the most
well-traveled people in the world.
2) Flexible and long-term travels are more cost-effective and less tiring.
If you don’t like a place, there is no reason to stay longer. Move to a new place once you replenish your travel energy. Quick travels make you sick and are stupidly exhausting. After 4 or 5 weeks of rush travels, you are ready for vacation. Vacations from traveling.
So calm down and explore a little bit more of the city or make friends with some locals.
3) Long-term travels make you more easy-going.
At the beginning I was planning everything.
Literally everything, even in which restaurants I would eat.
Now: A train has hours of delay? Sleeping in a cooling house bus?
Only a squat toilet, perhaps even no toilets? So what!
I would have cried 5 years ago if I would have lost my credit card on my travels, but now I try to calm down and call my bank and my mum.
3 weeks later everything was fine.
Like I said, calm down and one month later you will laugh about the silly situations back then.
4) World traveling doesn’t mean having vacation.
A few times I wished to quit my travels. Those days, I am drained and way too emotional. Traveling in third world countries and staying in crappy hostels is not a luxury vacation.
On the contrary, you have to deal from time to time with loads of troubles and shitty days.
5) Everyday you gain new knowledge.
The knowledge is not always useful and good.
But everyday you meet new people, learn about their traditions and customs or you try new food.
(either delicious or disgusting food – it doesn’t matter).
I have learned that people in society, who don’t put money and materialism as their first priority, are happier. Poor people from the third world shared with me their modest possessions and invited me to a home visit.
6) Be honest to yourself.
With honesty I mean don’t push yourself to anything you don’t want to do. It makes no sense to surround yourself with people who aren’t on the same wave length as you are.
If I have doubts, I wouldn’t let anyone convince me to do things I wouldn’t want to do.
I don’t care if you are working every day from 8 am till 5 pm or if you are studying or world traveling. But have a god damn goal in your life.
And be honest to yourself and the people around you.
7) “I am a global citizen”
The surprising looks when I am telling someone ” I am a global citizen.”
or “I am from Rwanda” or
“I am from X, (X=whatever pops up in my mind)” is too hilarious.
Sure everyone wants to know where I am from, but does it matter immensely in the first seconds of our encounter ?
I know it is a usual phrase to start a conversation. But I am more pleased
about a “How was your day?” or random questions like
“Would you rather eat pizzas and chocolate or salads and fruits for the rest of your life?” .
I might be weird and I am aware of my roots who shaped me somehow to the person I am. Nevertheless, I didn’t choose to be born in Germany or growing up for 5 years in Vietnam.
No, not at all. Therefore, I am a global citizen. Like you and me.
8) World traveling is not a medicine.
Yes, I found more about myself while I was traveling around the world the last two years. But if you have problems, don’t mislead yourself with all the instagram world travel pictures and their quotes like “find-yourself-crap”, to escape from your actual issues.
First, be in balance with yourself and go on long-term travel if you feel ready for it. World traveling is not a universal medicine.
Help yourself first before stepping outside.
9) Happiness is great, but even better when shared.
I am pretty sure, my travels wouldn’t be as memorable and great as they are without the people I have met.
All the connections I turned into a spider web spanning the globe with my friends is my true legacy.
The laughter, shared stories, talks until the early mornings, shared adventures and so on. All of it is only as great as it is shared with wonderful people. Like a jigsaw, I stick the puzzle pieces together.
10) Last but not least: You are traveling for nobody else but yourself.
Traveling is not a competition. And to achieve a goal, it means the goal is honestly your aim. You shouldn’t live the dreams of your parents or any of your friends.
My goal is to travel the world and immerse myself into breath-taking landscapes, meeting great people, indulging mouth-watering food and therefore to broaden my horizon. I am doing it for myself, not for my mother, not for my father, not for anyone but myself.