1. ALWAYS be grateful for EVERYTHING you have. (Cambodia)
After hearing about the tourist traps and witnessing people beg and lie to me to make a living, it seemed like anything goes. Most of the locals were making $50-100USD per month. That's less than $2/day. Yet Cambodians seemed to be the happiest people on Earth, in the simplest living conditions. Limited hot water and electricity in some places made even the worst conditions in Vancouver seem like a fairy tale.
Sinac, my Tuk-Tuk driver for a day, showed so much appreciation and joy from GETTING to work, I was extremely humbled. Could you imagine being that appreciative of where you're at, wherever you're at?
2. Work your ass off and never settle for being mediocre. (Philippines)
While I was enjoying what seemed like luxury because of the currency exchange differences, I also realized the huge opportunity in earning capacity back home. Though life seemed simpler in Manila, it's also a lot harder. With long days and long hours, brutal pollution and working conditions, Canadian employers seemed like guardian angels.
... Yeah, you're right. Maybe that's going too far. But putting my head down and going to work seems like a mighty fine idea.
3. In unknown territory, go explore. (Thailand)
The best feeling in the world wasn't getting lost in Bangkok for 10 hours and absorbing everything the city had to offer. It was unexpectedly finding my way back home after that. Not only did I see tons, but it felt amazing discovering familiarity. There's nothing quite like activating your internal GPS and independence and rushing off on an adventure.
I went through an emotional roller coaster of feeling exhausted, grumpy and judged to feeling confident, exhilarated and at home in the span of the day. I wouldn't trade those tougher emotions for anything else. In facing them, I grew immensely.
Oh, and if I didn't go explore, I probably wouldn't have had the best meal of my life. (LINK)
4. Writing is the best outlet for clarity. (China)
Want the cheapest and most uplifting cure to stress and worry? It's writing.
Because I was traveling by myself for the majority of my trip; I often had a lot of time alone with my thoughts. Personal questions about work, relationships, and life constantly barraged my conscious mind and in effort to maintain my sanity, I would write to clear the air. Sometimes I didn't have any answers, but I would just jot down questions. As the day passed, I would monitor my thoughts and find probable answers. Ranging from mildly retarded to highly genius, I would constantly be throwing poor ideas out and storing the better ones for later use. Creativity soared as I searched for better ways to describe or invent stories. Reading other books was great too, not only to increase knowledge about new topics but also to explore different forms of prose.
5. There's always a party. (Vietnam)
Singing and dancing like no one else is watching is the funnest thing I know to do. Completely disregarding judgement, I found that I could pick my mood up instantly by singing dumb ass songs or bobbing my head on a train. It's cool to be different. Trust me, everyone else on the MRT was jealous I was having more fun than they were.
Self-talk played a huge part in keeping myself company as well, as I entertained and chased laughter in self-amusement. In gloomier moods, I would begin talking out loud to myself and narrating play-by-plays. Nothing better for attitude management.
6. Asking for advice is the quickest route to success. (Singapore)
Everybody has different problems in life. The good news is that my relatives have gone through most of my problems already. It turns out that the dilemmas that I'm currently dealing with seem trivial compared to the stuff they've dealt with. Got relationship problems? Family issues? Strapped for cash? Career in suspense?
It's not that bad.
In one instance, I spent 5 hours listening to how my aunt raised my cousins. I found out what the hardest thing was for her and how she balanced raising kids as a mom with her work as a professional. Without sharing my problems, I just asked her what obstacles and challenges she overcame and then I shut up and listened.
Because she had raised such amazing kids, I knew her advice was solid. Through her perspective, I was better fit to deal with my own life. I find that more people are willing to give advice than to take it. Shoot, give it to me! I'll take it all!
Through this trip, I learnt to follow examples of success in problem areas and ask how to emulate it. It's not often you get to mentor someone younger, and when you do, most people jump at the chance to instill wisdom.
Turning this to you, what lessons have you learnt from traveling?
PS. When traveling, you're never really alone ;)
A blog on my continuing journey through life, covering self-development and success strategies, but also personal reflection.