We all have our own reasons for travel and often we don’t actually know what those reasons are until much later. Traveling benefits us in many ways and in order to fully appreciate and absorb the changes we go through, we need to take time to relax, reflect, and really appreciate the people we have become.
I was a very different person when I first set out traveling. Sure, I had realized that I needed a break from the corporate world, but I had no idea how much, or how the decision would change me for the rest of my life! This is my most personal article so far; my realization after travelling non-stop since 2013 – from solo backpacking to falling in love with another backpacker.
1. I’m more confident with myself
Before traveling, I was always worried about what other people think of me. How I looked and dressed was really important to me, wondering if I was good looking enough to socialize and be one of the people I used to hang out with. I was always worried about gaining weight, getting darker (in my country, if you’re dark they say you’re ugly!). I always had to look “presentable” to impress people and I thought I really NEEDED it for people to accept and like me.
Now, I’m more confident with my color, my weight, how I dress like a hippie compared to my “branded” life before. It doesn’t really matter now, I’m confident with myself and I only attract people who likes me for who I am.
2. I’ve learned how to truly love and be loved
Okay, I’ve been in relationships before. I even almost got married as I thought that was what love was about. My life was full of insecurities and therefore jealousies and arguments. I decided to leave everything behind and to love myself… you know what happened during my solo travels? I’ve realized my dream at the perfect time that I think I was ready to fall in love again, with Jon. I’ve learned how to truly love someone! When you’re with right person, you feel secured, confident and you know someone is there to unpack your personal baggage in life.
3. I’m no longer in a competition trap
I used to compete a lot even when I was still a kid up to working my way up in the corporate world. I always wanted to impress people with how smart I was, how I could handle any tasks in front of me. I always needed people to always notice that I was the best in my field… but now, why should I feel like I need to compete? I only need to impress myself. My life is already complete, I just have to make sure that whatever I do will be positive and make me a better person.
4. I’ve learned to be humble
Yes, even I learned that! I used to think that all of those achievements I strived for since I was a kid to reaching my position and lifestyle in the Middle East was way more impressive than other people. I was a 24 year old Filipina with a progressing career and had all of the material things I could buy. But when I started travelling, I was no one. What I had achieved was nothing and I loved it, like a new kind of freedom! I have a lot of things to learn in life and that will only come with more experience.
During our travels, I even learned how to clean hostel toilets in exchange for bed – this was a big deal for me! We slept outside in a tent during freezing winter nights just to keep our volunteering job. Jon and I even lived on 50 cent / day – sharing a small bag of vegetables and some boiled rice for our lunch and dinner! Travelling just makes me realize that the more I know about life, the more I know nothing, which make every day more exciting.
5. I’ve learned how to truly appreciate things.
In the past, I put a high value on expensive things, all of which I gladly paid for on my credit card. The fact that credit cards were seen as a sign of success makes me cry with laughter now! I thought happiness was brand new clothes, high tech gadgets, a weekend trip to Dubai or an expensive night out in a posh restaurant. Anything that would make me look good to other people.
Now, it’s nothing like that! Our life is simpler, we only have less than 50 kgs belongings between the two of us. I know all of my things (I even have names for most of them), I appreciate the clothes that I own. I’m thankful if I buy any new clothes at all (every 3 or 6 months!). Now we hardly ever buy anything on impulse, taking time to consider how much we really need to buy new things, so if we do buy it, then I feel really happy and I appreciate it so much more.
6. I’ve learned a lot of new skills
Before I thought that the only skills I needed to improve were Microsoft Office and networking, since I had to deal with a lot of corporate connections and create loads of maps, Excel sheets and Powerpoint presentations.
Well I can now proudly say that I know how to fix beds in a hotel style, how to cook breakfast for a lot of guests, use a cashier machine and how to work in a bar!
Aside from the skills that I’ve learned volunteering in South East Asia and South America, Jon and I have invested in certifications to start earning consistent money to fund our lifestyle. We are now certified yoga teachers, Ayurveda Massage therapists and English teachers. Now, with the new skills and certifications that we have we can work wherever we want! Where I’m from, Massage Therapist is not a very desirable title, however I really like it because I get a lot of satisfaction from helping people.
What I’ve learned most of all is how to be happy and satisfied by what I have and to realize that I already have everything I was dreaming of a long time ago. Anything else is extra (and extra to carry!)
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