Not many New Year’s resolutions come true. After a week or so, we toss them into our bin of wishful thinking. I’m no exception to this, which is why I’ve stopped writing New Year’s resolutions years ago. In place of that list, I’ve started a different year-end tradition: listing down all my faults and shortcomings in the form of lessons. And for a year I mostly spent on the road, it’s a given that most of them came from travelling. Here are the 18 life lessons I learned.
1. Travel is affordable
This year, I’ve been blessed enough to travel across lands and seas without having to spend more than I earn. Once we learn how money isn’t the only currency in the world, it’s easy to see that we don’t need loads of it to trek the world.
2. But sometimes, you have to spend to gain
As a stingy traveller, I’ve foregone too many experiences in the name of saving up. So, I’ve come up with a few conditions to manage my (non)spending habits: If it’s food we can’t taste anywhere else, then it’s worth it. If it supports a local vendor, then it’s worth it. If it’s a ticket to a place that makes me insanely happy, then it’s worth it.
3. History is important
Back when I was a student, I hated history. I knew I sucked at memorisation, so I allowed my bad memory to get in the way of my education. As I frequented museums from around the world this year, I’ve realised how important history is. Both for the growth of a nation, and for the growth of its people.
4. Music is fun, wherever you are
No one should be afraid to dance.
5. Kindness is a universal language
We must communicate it everywhere we go.
6. The world is our classroom; everyone’s a teacher
This year, I’ve learned from award-winning journalists from the other side of the world. That being said, I’ve also learned from tricycle drivers, a local vendor, OFWs, and a retired Japanese lady.
7. Instagram isn’t a sin
We should start accepting that the world is evolving, and we can never get rid of technological innovations no matter how much we try. While travelling to rural places can trigger our nostalgia, sometimes we want to take photos of a photogenic sunset. When the photo turns out good, we want to share it with our following. It’s okay.
8. You don’t need souvenirs to remember a place
We must take a place in with our basic senses first. Hear the waves breaking on the shore. Smell the salt in the warm wind. Taste it, even. Feel the moist sand on our toes. See the orange sky turning violet. Remember the sensation. Hold on to it for as long as we can.
9. Behind every good cup of coffee is a hardworking farmer
Let’s thank and support them as often as we can. They deserve it.
10. It’s okay to stay at home
Sometimes, travelling gets exhausting — financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally. We don’t have to love it all the time.
11. You’ll fall in love again — it’s okay
It’s a traveller’s disease — falling in love with places. And like every kind of love, it has its risks. Leaving a place you’ve grown to love never gets easier. Many times, it’s painful even. But, it’s always worth it.
12. A broken heart needs the sea
Like tides, we have highs and lows. Like waves, we rise and we break. And, like small waters, we’re a part of something bigger. Sometimes, we just need to remember.
13. Miley Cyrus was right
“Ain’t about how fast (we) get there. Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb.”
14. You’re not required to geotag every place
Sometimes, we can have it as a secret for a while.
15. Solo isn’t lonely
While solo travel carries several life lessons, it doesn’t mean we’re better off by ourselves. We can’t trek through the world alone. We’ll always, always need people — whether stranger, family, or friend — wherever we are in the world.
16. “I need to buy it” is an excuse
And it’s barely ever true. When we own more things, more things own us. Invest in experience instead.
17. Travel is personal
We experience it differently from one another. We have our own biases. Our own thoughts. Our own desires and travel goals. We enjoy and appreciate different things, and we travel in our own ways. And as long we enjoy it, no one can travel wrongly.
18. But, it’s also universal
Everyone travels. Some, across the world. Others, across the street. Regardless of the destination, each one of us deals with struggles, with fears, and with achievements. In travelling, we’re never alone.
Travelling teaches us several life lessons, so let’s bring all our learnings towards the future. Cheers to a wiser 2019, and may we travel more often.