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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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                                                                More by this author

                                                                Sean Kim

                                                                Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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                                                                Last Updated on February 11, 2021

                                                                Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

                                                                Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

                                                                How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

                                                                Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

                                                                The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

                                                                Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

                                                                Perceptual Barrier

                                                                The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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                                                                The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

                                                                The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

                                                                Attitudinal Barrier

                                                                Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

                                                                The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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                                                                The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

                                                                Language Barrier

                                                                This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

                                                                The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

                                                                The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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                                                                Emotional Barrier

                                                                Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

                                                                The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

                                                                The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

                                                                Cultural Barrier

                                                                Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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                                                                The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

                                                                The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

                                                                Gender Barrier

                                                                Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

                                                                The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

                                                                The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

                                                                And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

                                                                Reference

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