It’s been over a decade since I embarked on my first backpacking trip all by myself, unsure of the outcome of that fateful trip and clueless of where the open roads would take me. Since then, I have traveled to numerous destinations around the world (though not as much as I would have hoped for), reached the pinnacle of my sea Career, got married to the girl of my dreams (who is a travel addict too!), migrated to a new country and have become a father to a beautiful child.
My life on the road has taught me many life lessons which has helped me in all spheres of my life. Here are the ten things that I have learnt from my travels
- Be Self Reliant – I have come to realize that the first person who can help you in any predicament is yourself. When you are far away from home facing a dilemma you are left with no choice but to come out with effective solutions. I have faced many such situations as a traveler and with every problem solved my confidence in my abilities has only increased. Whether you are a solo traveler, travelling in a group or with your family, it is always wise to be aware of your surroundings and be self-sustaining. “You don’t have to worry about burning bridges, if you’re building your own” ― Kerry E. Wagner
- Improvise – Most of my journeys have been self tailored without any firm itineraries or solid travel plans. The only thing I confirmed at the onset of my trip was the number of days I would spend at the destination. Daunting at first, this approach has strengthened my ‘Decision Making Muscles’ and has taught me to take things as they come. As an example, I have had to cancel my best laid plan to visit a virgin rain forest because the road got swept away in floods. As an alternate I got an opportunity to spend a few days in a Buddhist Monastery and live with the monks, which has been a life changing experience. Trust that when one door shuts the next one will open up with probably richer and more rewarding experiences. “To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well.” ― Isaac Asimov,
- Follow your instincts : Before I embarked on my travels I was a skeptic. I would analyse every aspect of a situation before taking firm steps. Travel has changed that. I don’t procrastinate anymore. I am more sure-footed despite walking in unfamiliar territories. I befriend strangers freely, explore places without the usual reservations and with each positive experience I have come to trust my own counsel. I am not saying that one needs to be reckless. There is a fine line between being bold and being foolish. So far my instincts have always kept me on the right side of this line. “I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.” ― Hermann Hesse
- Making Friends : As a young boy in school, I was the shy child who would sit at the back of the school bus looking at other kids having large friend circles and always wondered if I would someday have the confidence to interact with large groups and have a retinue of friends myself. Ever since I started backpacking, I have made umpteen acquaintances, had cuppas in strangers homes, been invited as a guest to live with families I met on the bus and I have been offered free rides, stays and meals on multiple occasions from strangers who have eventually become friends. You may think you are alone in this world. Travel once and you will be surprised with the friendships you return home with. “We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.” ― Robert Louis Stevenson
- Slowing Down : As a backpacker, on numerous occasions I have lazed in bed with a paperback novel, sun bathed for hours on a beach, enjoyed my solitude in street side cafes watching the world go by and walked aimlessly through verdant forests without any particluar destination in mind. It is quite a revelation at first to know that the world pretty much goes on without any tinkering on my part. My main objective when I travel now is to stop and smell the roses as opposed to cramming my entire itinerary with back to back sight seeing trips with the mere objective of covering as much ground as possible. We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living. – Thich Nhat Hanh
- Staying Healthy : For me travelling is all about the ‘Doing’ and the ‘Seeing’. My interests are more on the physical activities, be it scaling 15,000 foot peaks, scuba diving or bungee jumping. It is imperative that I need to take great care about my health whilst travelling or at home. Strangely enough, it has been my observation that I remain fitter on the road than whilst I am at home. Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. – John Muir
- Being Tolerant : This also means also being Non Judgmental and less opinionated. I began my journeys with a heavy bag of pre-conceived notions about the world and it’s people. The more I travel the more I have come to appreciate the different cultures, view points and personal differences. Show me a person who has no respect for another man’s view point and I will show you a man who has seldom ventured more that hundred miles from his own home. “Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.” ― Timothy Keller
- Being Grateful : The more I travel, I realize how fortunate and blessed I am as a person, as a citizen of a stable country, as a member of loving family and as a person who has a food and shelter waiting when I get back. There are so many people I have met who can only aspire to have the freedom and lifestyle that I have taken for granted. With this recognition comes a certain sense of humility and an acceptance of my own challenges in a positive light. “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Personal Growth : I know this in my heart that I am not the same person who set out years ago. That person has been shaped by the elements and transformed by experiences. The lessons I have learn (and still learn) in the Great Wide Open have been more life changing and long lasting than any education a class room could ever provide. “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”― Nelson Mandela
- Dare to Dream : Where to next? I am only limited by my own imagination. As is said, the most difficult part of a journey is stepping out of the door. It all becomes easier from there on. Now, no destination seems faraway, no experience seems far out of reach. This for me is the biggest gift that my travels have given me. To be able to Live. To Dream. To Evolve. “I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
“We are travelers on a cosmic journey,stardust,swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share.This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.” ― Paulo Coelho,
THE EVOLVING BACKPACKER
Sailor, Adventurer, Thrill seeker. I am an avid traveler who seeks every opportunity to travel and evolve . Join me on my numerous adventures and voyages of discovery of the Outside World as well as the Inner Self.