This year, I’ve come to realise that travellers experience the world through different senses. At least, this holds true for me. Over the course of being a full-time travel writer, my eyes have become more open to the overflow of blessings in my life. Sometimes, these blessings came in the form of granted wishes; other times, they came in the form of lessons. With this, here are 19 life lessons I learned from travelling this year.
Also read: 18 Lessons I Learned From Travelling in 2018
1. Hygiene is important, even when you’re on the road
Not to say that I just realised the importance of hygiene this year (ew)! But for 2019, I’ve specifically learned to heighten my standards. I’ve curated a minimalist travel hygiene kit for myself; I no longer bother with toiletries that don’t do me any good (read: hotel toiletries that suck).
Instead, after a few months of experimenting, I’ve found travel-friendly products that work well with me! My travel hygiene kit consists of local and organic brands that stand for the things I believe in. But other than purpose, they serve me well, too!
2. Sleep is necessary, but sometimes you have to sacrifice a few hours
In 2018, I treated my eight hours of sleep like a god. Absolutely nothing was to get in the way with my beauty rest! While I feel the same way about sleep now, I’ve come to accept that there are a few moments that are worth the late nights (and very early mornings).
3. Skincare is easy, especially when you travel
As I was pouring my heart and soul into curating my travel go-to items, I discovered that skincare doesn’t have to be complicated. I’ve cut my skincare routine down to two steps: cleansing and protecting. Since then, I’ve been amazed at how much healthier my skin has been. (My dermatologist isn’t complaining, either!)
4. You can prepare for solo travel
Solo travel is a big deal, and you don’t have to be ashamed about preparing for it.
5. It’s okay to feel homesick for places that aren’t your home
As travellers, it’s normal for us to create attachments wherever we go. In this world, there are so many things that we can fall in love with — and this is the beauty of this planet! Around us are breathtaking landscapes, fascinating cultures, kindhearted people… Honestly, I don’t think anyone is immune to these!
Also read: Homesickness Everywhere: A Traveller’s Disease
6. And it’s okay to be back home
Even if you’re a traveller, it’s okay to miss home, too. Remember: there’s nothing wrong with staying. Sometimes, even people with itchy feet need some time to rest and recuperate.
7. Planting roots are great, as long as you grow
Travelling makes me scared of settling down, because settling down means commitment. It means responsibilities. It means cancelling trips when something important comes up, when a friend needs your help, or when an event demands your presence. But if settling down means growth, then we should be open-minded enough to accept it.
8. The world deserves more slow travellers
Besides, we need to travel slowly more often, too.
9. Women can do absolutely anything
We can become pilots, hitchhikers, bosses, surf instructors. Women can change the world, and women can travel — despite the odds. After I’ve accepted all the risks there are for female travellers, this is still a belief I hold close to my heart.
Also read: An Open Letter to the Girl Who’s Still Afraid to Travel Solo
10. There is a culture behind everything
Even with coffee.
11. Travelling with family can be great
In fact, it can be exciting! Sometimes, we just need to exert a little bit more effort to showing them that we’re no longer babies. Hi mom. Hi dad. Our trip to Turkey was great, wasn’t it? Thanks for finally believing in my itinerary skills.
12. Instagram-worthy photos are important, somehow
We don’t need to force photo albums in an age where it takes extra effort to have photos printed out. Instagram is our new memory safe. More than pulling off an ~aesthetic~ feed, we should always take this app as a tiny corner where we can reminisce all our trips.
13. Places change
Just like people, places change. Sometimes for the better — many times for worse (for some of us, at least). But with change comes acceptance, because nothing ever stays the same, anyway. It’s important that we enjoy things while they last.
Also read: Travel Nostalgia: Why It Hurts & How to Overcome It
14. You will never know places like the back of your hand
There is no such thing as overfamiliarity. Sometimes, all we need is a fresh pair of eyes.
15. Asking questions is vital
For crying out loud, go to the guard and ask him where the restroom is instead of having to hold your pee for hours because of your fear of strangers. Besides, life lessons are usually most obvious when we’re curious.
16. Light packing doesn’t mean you have to look underdressed
Basic clothing items are key to #OOTD success.
Also read: Packing Tips: 5 #OOTD Must-Knows for an Instagrammable Getaway
17. You don’t have to force travel
As we go through life, we’ll be moving in and moving out. We’ll be living in different places and basking in various communities. Getting pressured to travel is absolutely unnecessary.
18. When travelling, especially to dark tourist spots, education is necessary
“Most dark tourists believe that dark tourism should be okay as long as it is done with the right motives: to learn from history, to commemorate the dead, and to remember the tragedy. On the other hand, dark tourism should never make it okay for tourists to plainly ogle over the pain of others.”
19. Miracles happen; all you need is faith
Finally, among all the life lessons I learned this year, this encapsulates it all. Everything is possible. Sometimes, our wildest dreams can come true with prayers. God can use people to bless us. There’s nothing wrong with setting daunting travel goals, as long as we learn to go through life gracefully. Be grateful for what can be, and accept what cannot.
Also read: Applying For a Visa Takes a Leap of Faith — Here’s Why
Ahh, 2019. What a year. I look back at the past 12 months and there is nothing but gratitude in my heart. There’ve been so many life lessons over the year. I can’t wait for what 2020 has in store for me!