We all have our reasons for travel and often we don’t know what those reasons are until much later. Traveling benefits us in many ways and to fully appreciate and absorb the changes we go through, we need to take time to relax, reflect, and 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 traveling 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 thought of me. How I looked and dressed was 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, and 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 NEEDED it for people to accept and like me.
Now, I’m more confident with my color, my weight, and how I dress like a hippie compared to my “branded” life before. It doesn’t matter now, I’m confident with myself and I only attract people who like 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 love myself… Do you know what happened during my solo travels? I 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 the right person, you feel secure and confident and you know someone is there to unpack your 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, and how I could handle any tasks in front of me. I 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 were 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 traveling, 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 a 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 cents/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 makes 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 of belongings between two of us. I know all of my things (I even have names for most of them), and 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 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 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 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 with 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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