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31 Lessons I Learned Travelling The World Alone

31 Lessons I Learned Travelling The World Alone
Over the past 18 months, I’ve travelled around the world to different cities and countries, including Paris, France; Munich, Germany; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Cusco, Peru; Medellin, Colombia; NYC, USA; and more.

All of these trips have been with me, myself, and I.

People talk about how great travelling alone is and why you need to try it. So, I finally mustered up the courage and set out to venture on my own.

Let me be upfront by telling you that travelling alone is not for everyone. For those brave enough to take on the challenge, the lessons learnt can be life changing. They were for me so far, and the journey has only just begun.

Here are 31 lessons you will learn while travelling alone.

1. You Hate Being Alone.

You step out of that airport and can’t help but feel nervous, lonely, and doubtful. This is how everyone feels at the beginning of their adventure — and only at the beginning.

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    2. You Love Being Alone.

    Being alone becomes a way of living and you have complete freedom to do what you want, when you want.

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      3. Experiences > Materials.

      The transition from living with a car, a home, and your own TV to a backpack makes you realize how much your possessions owned you. Experiences are life-lasting. Materials give you nothing but a bill.

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        4. Quality Beats Quantity.

        We live in a quantified world where the higher the number, the more it’s attributed to success — followers, bank accounts, houses. For some, this also applies to the number of places visited. However, it’s far better to spend 3 months in a city learning its culture, language, and creating lasting relationships than trying to hit 10 cities in 3 months.

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          5. Learn A New Language.

          It’s only when you travel to a foreign country that you realize how big the world truly is and how much of a bubble you’ve been living in.

          For example, if English is the only language you can understand, you’re only able to communicate with 12% of the world. The best way to understand the rest of the world and the amazing cultures out there is to learn a new language. Just by learning a popular language like Spanish or Mandarin, your reach and understanding of the world doubles.

          In the Internet era we live in today, there’s no excuse not to know another language. Take advantage of websites like Rype that provide unlimited one-on-one Spanish lessons online with a private teacher, anytime, anywhere.

          We’re entering a Multilingual era, and it’s up to you to take advantage of it.

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            6. You Learn To Love Yourself.

            Travelling alone gets lonely — there’s no doubt about it. Facing your inner thoughts and being comfortable and happy with who you are as a person will be one of the most valuable lessons you’ll learn.

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              7. You Stop Caring What Others Think About You

              There’s a big difference between outer confidence and inner confidence. Outer confidence can be faked and is hard to sustain. Inner confidence is being 100% comfortable in your own skin. Stop caring what other people think and have the confidence to do what you want, when you want.

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                8. Own Up To Your Success And Mistakes.

                When you’re travelling alone, there’s no one else that is there to help you make a decision. However that decision turns out, you need to own up to it.

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                  9. Trust Your Intuition.

                  Every day, you’re making small and big decisions. There will never be enough information to make the perfect decision, and the ability to trust your intuition is the key to survival.

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                    10. Home Is Where You Are.

                    Home starts to follow you wherever you go, with everything you own on your back.

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                      11. Blend Into The City.

                      If you’ve come all this way to visit a city, then be in it 100%. Speak the language, hang out with the locals, eat the food. Don’t be that person who clings to other foreigners.

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                        12. What’s Important In Your Life.

                        You hear the most fascinating life stories from people you meet. From rags to riches, near-death experiences, parents with cancer, the list goes on.

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                          13. Who’s Important In Your Life.

                          Being away for a period of time across the world makes you realize who the important people are in your life. We’re “burdened” by proximity throughout our lives, which makes it easy to develop artificial relationships solely from frequent interactions. Your real relationships are put to the test.

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                            14. Don’t Allow Your Phone To Bring You Back.

                            There’s something magical about travelling and being in a completely different city. You become more open-minded, your mindset shifts, and you can create the most meaningful relationships. Don’t allow your phone to take that away from you. Put it away.

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                              15. Be Weird.

                              Life is way too short to live in the confined limits of how society expects you to act in public. Embrace your natural weird side, because each of us has it. Take the risk.

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                                16. Don’t Delay Your Happiness.

                                There’s a difference between fulfillment and happiness. Fulfillment may be a life-long investment to master and earn, but you can choose to be happy here and now. Smile.

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                                  17. There’s So Much To Learn.

                                  There’s so much we don’t know about the world and the people that live here  —  culture, food, language. The list goes on. The truth is that most of us have been confined by the same part of the world, with the same mindset, for all our lives.

                                  As the saying goes, the more you know, the less you know.

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                                    18. Execution Beats All.

                                    You can talk all day about doing something, but without taking any action, it’s just talk. There are people in the world working 10x harder than we are at our normal jobs and getting paid 1/100th of our normal pay. Most of us don’t know what hard work means.

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                                      19. There’s No Such Thing As A Stranger.

                                      There’s something about meeting with a fellow traveller that immediately connects you with them. If anyone has stayed at an hostel, then you can relate to this.

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                                        20. Vulnerability Is Sexy.

                                        This took me a while to realize, but vulnerability is the sexiest thing a human being can show. Last week, I had a 3-hour non-stop conversation on my flight to Colombia, and the conversation got so intense she ended up tearing up. It was one of the most real moments I’ve experienced in a long time.

                                        It takes a next level of confidence to put yourself on the line for rejection or failure. Embrace humility.

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                                          21. See People For Who They Are.

                                          One of my favorite things about travelling is how people’s normal societal layers are uncovered physically and mentally. Everyone is dressed similarly, without the mask of a three-piece suit, and you’re judged solely on who you are as a person  —  nothing else.

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                                            22. Kill Them With Kindness.

                                            It’s easier to react with frustration than respond with kindness. Choose the latter, you won’t regret it.

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                                              23. Bring Books.

                                              Enhancing your already-open mind with books will do wonders for your creativity. With the amount of layovers, flights, transportation, and unwinding time you’ll have , you can easily read 1 book a week. Check out our top 10 books to read recommended by Barack Obama and Steve Jobs.

                                               
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                                                24. Spontaneity Becomes A Way Of Living.

                                                Unexpected moments will arise during your travels, and your spontaneity muscles will grow.

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                                                  25. Alone Isn’t The Answer.

                                                  If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

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                                                    26. Live For Random Acts Of Kindness.

                                                    It’s the easiest, yet most powerful way to make the world smile.

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                                                      27. You Cringe At #Firstworldproblems.

                                                      It’s hard to empathize with people complaining about losing their restaurant reservations or getting a middle seat on a plane when you meet people who are making less than $5/day while supporting their families.

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                                                        28. Invest In Yourself.

                                                        Travelling alone is one of the few times in your life where your number one goal is to take care of yourself. Be OK with that because you won’t get this moment back.

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                                                          29. Have A Purpose.

                                                          Have a purpose bigger than yourself and your personal goals in life. It’s purpose that empowers us to get through the grind and the obstacles that come our way. The realization that you’re not doing this for yourself, that there are others counting on you, will drive you.

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                                                            30. Stand For Something, Or Stand For Nothing.

                                                            Be bold enough to stand up for what you believe in, but have the humility to know that you don’t have all the answers.

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                                                              31. We’re All Human.

                                                              The irony of travelling is that we set out to explore different cultures, different foods, different people, yet what we come back to realize is that we’re all just the same.

                                                              Poor, rich, famous, Asian, Black, White, Latino  —  we’re all playing the same game of life. At the end of the day, we all want love, validation, respect, and security for our future.

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                                                                Last Updated on May 21, 2019

                                                                How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

                                                                How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

                                                                For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

                                                                If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

                                                                Example 1

                                                                You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

                                                                You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

                                                                In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

                                                                Example 2

                                                                You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

                                                                People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

                                                                You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

                                                                Example 3

                                                                You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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                                                                The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

                                                                Example 4

                                                                You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

                                                                Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

                                                                If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

                                                                Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

                                                                • Understand your own communication style
                                                                • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
                                                                • Communicate with precision and care
                                                                • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

                                                                1. Understand Your Communication Style

                                                                To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

                                                                In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

                                                                Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

                                                                2. Learn Others Communication Styles

                                                                Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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                                                                If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

                                                                “How do you prefer to receive information?”

                                                                This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

                                                                To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

                                                                3. Exercise Precision and Care

                                                                A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

                                                                On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

                                                                Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

                                                                I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

                                                                I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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                                                                In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

                                                                The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

                                                                Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

                                                                4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

                                                                Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

                                                                In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

                                                                “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

                                                                Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

                                                                Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

                                                                It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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                                                                It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

                                                                It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

                                                                Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

                                                                Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

                                                                The Bottom Line

                                                                When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

                                                                I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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                                                                Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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