For the past five weeks, I have been away from the place I call home. It has been an incredible experience, but at times, I have found being on the road for this long physically and emotionally draining.
The more time I spend, alone with my thoughts, the more I become aware of my behaviour and patterns. But the more time I spend with others, especially in a new environment, the more I learn about myself.
Joining a group of people from all over the world, mostly strangers, is always an interesting experience. After months of isolation in 2020, it still feels kind of weird to be among people.
Will they accept me or even like me? Will they understand me or completely misjudge me? Does that even matter if we only spend a week together? How quickly do I form an opinion about them?
It’s surprising how judgemental we all can be, drawing conclusions from someone’s looks or behaviour in an instance.
I kept noticing how I was comparing everything to my previous travel experiences.
I know this and I teach this: our brain (for evolutionary reasons) needs to predict by using previous experiences as a reference point. It makes us feel safe…that quick judgment: this is good, that is bad, or this is different from what I tried before, this might be dangerous, this is unknown…
To summarise, here’s what I have learnt in these past 5 weeks:
- Even after years of “self-refinement” I make really quick judgements and I am wrong just as many times as I am right
- I love novelty, excitement, meeting new people, trying new foods
- I’d rather eat with locals then in fancy restaurants
- Kissing a street cat however cute, is a mistake (a day of being sick taught me that)
- Never wear thongs for a camel ride
- Be curious about others, ask questions and listen – you can learn so much about the person, the culture
- Always say yes to a dance under the stars
- It is important to know how to say no with kind firmness
- Walk around like you belong and not like a tourist
- Don’t be afraid to ask for directions, recommendations, you may end up somewhere magical (or not)
I’m almost home now, and although I am looking forward to getting into my comfortable, familiar bed, I know it won’t be long before I am planning another adventure, meeting more new people in far-off places–and learning more about myself in the process.
What are your biggest takeaways when it comes to traveling and meeting new people, cultures? Did you have an incredible experience that you always find yourself comparing your other trips to? Let us know in the comments below.