As we recently ended 5 months of continuous travels, here is a full reflection of things we learned. In the past months we have traveled to more than 10 countries and dozens of different cities. We have encountered different languages, different cultures and religions, fallen off a scooter, thought at a Buddhist orphan school and hundreds of other experiences and stories that I never imagined I would have experience just a couple of months ago.
Here are my top 5 best things that I’ve learned in the past months.
(Vicky Checking out a street vendor offering a polishing metal product in Korea pretending she understands 😉
1. People are naturally good
Us humans love to create boundaries with other cultures and differentiate ourselves from anyone who is different. When we live everyday in the same place, mostly everyone is fairly similar to us, even in the United States a country rich of people from all over the world seems less diverse when you travel to countries with completely different cultures. It’s only until you leave the warm of your city to an unknown destination that you realize how different people are, the way they dress, their language, their beliefs and more.
The most important realization is that there are good people all over the world. In reality most people are actually good, it’s sad how every time we see the news, whatever violent situations occur in our world are caused by only a small group of individuals. The stories from people who helped us all around our travels are plenty, but to single one out, when we were about to leave Manila to Jakarta we had to go all the way to the Indonesian embassy to pick up our Visa. The office only opened until 11am and our flight was at 3pm. We thought we had plenty of time, so we did not think much of it, only until we had our visa in our hands and went out to find a Taxi. An hour went by and we could not find a taxi in downtown Manila on a Friday afternoon. Someone told us that it was payday and that Manila is famous for insane traffic jams and a lack of taxis.
Around 1pm we start walking around with our bags when a friendly local told us that there was a hospital a couple of blocks away and that there was a taxi line there. We run to the hospital to find out the huge line of people waiting for taxis and not many taxis coming in. This is when we realize that we have probably missed our flight. We get in line, when the same friendly guy who told us to come here, starts talking to the person who assigned the taxis and right after tells us to come with him. We jump the entire line and get in the taxi with the new friendly local who tells the taxi drive to hurry to the airport. At the next corner the guy gets off the taxi and wishes us good luck. If it wasn’t for the good deed of this guy, we would have most definitely missed our flight and lost hundreds of dollars in new plane tickets and hotels.
You always have to be cautious everywhere you go, there are people everywhere who are just trying to make a buck out of every tourist they see. But you can’t think that everyone who approaches you will rob you, or try to sell you something. Always be aware and handle each situation with care, but in this case our friendly Filipino friend helped us get to the airport on time.
Same stories are found everywhere, news love the bad and tragic stories, but I’m sure for every one robbery there are hundreds of good stories that never get told. Good people are everywhere, no matter their color, their religion or social status. It has been oftentimes the most underprivileged people the ones who have been the nicest and most welcoming.
Travel teaches you that humans rely on each other, and that we should never judge anyone. You never know who could save your life tomorrow, or make you have the best of times! On this note, some of the most memorable experiences we had when traveling such as having a couple of beers and a great time were with locals who probably did not understand much of what we were saying, but a good old laugh can be understood in any language.
(It’ll be easier to always be positive if we had 18 arms 😉
2. Always be Positive
When you are living out of a backpack moving all the time, life can get a little tense. We are naturally wired to worry in life, what would happen if this and that, we constantly ask ourselves. We think about the million of possible outcomes of every situation to find out that most of our worries never even materialize. Because of this I have now decided that no matter what happens in life, we should always be positive. Most of the times we worry about small little details that do not matter after all. The Indonesian lady who got your lunch order wrong, the taxi driver who is trying to drive you around to jack up the meter, the policeman who stops you for nothing and asks for a bribe. We could all make a huge deal out of all these things, but in reality we should always be positive, keep a positive attitude and keep going with our lives. Yes, it sucks that you had to pay one more dollar to the taxi driver, but really who needs it more. Why make a big deal out of it. Be happy that you get to experience everything that you experience in your life.
We need to all learn how to be positive in life, every day of every year. Let’s try to not make a big deal out of every little thing in our lives; as long as you and your family are healthy everything else should not matter as much. What’s funny is that every time I keep a positive attitude towards life, life comes around and rewards me in a positive way.
(Yes, she saved my life from falling and being a casualty of Angkor Wat (Note to Self – No stupid pics next time)
3. Life is short and unexpected
The day after the AirAsia flight unfortunately crashed in 2015, we flew in one of their planes. There are thousands of people who die every day of un-natural causes, in car accident, plane crashes, and many other ways. I could not stop but wonder, that I could have been one of the passengers in that flight. No one knows when his or her last day in earth will be. We have to ensure we are living and enjoying every precious moment of our lives.
Be more loving with your friends and family. Go out more and enjoy your life, a simple walk in the park will ensure you are looking up to the sky and loving every minute of your existence. We give up much of our precious time in things that do not fill our life with joy.
As I’m happy to be on my way to get yet into one more plane, all I can do is cross my fingers and wish for the best. I don’t want to scare anyone of flying, chances are you probably have the same possibilities of dying sitting in your house anyways. What’s important is realizing that life in unpredictable and that this present moment is all we have.
The moment you realize that we have no control over our time in earth; you start to take better decisions with your time. Many of us put up goals and dreams to later days in our life, the reality is that we should not postpone any of our bucket list items and should start doing everything we wish for as soon as we can.
People die every day regretting that they had their priorities in life all wrong. Many spend more hours at work than with their families, many live an unhealthy life and pay the price later on in life.
If we put a dollar sign to every hour of our lives, how much does it cost to sit on this coast of Bali and stare at it all day?
4. Time does not have a Price tag
One of the most important things that I realize after long time travel is that there is no price I can put on my time. Yes we all have salaries and try to average how much we make per year, week, hour etc., but we can’t apply this figure to every moment of our lives.
I used to think that if I took a weekday off to do other things, it was a wasted day where I did not produce any money. Now that I have spent plenty of weekdays just walking around strange cities and having the best of times I realize that there is no amount of money that could buy those feelings and experiences I had.
Plenty of business books and experts tell you that you must be actively being productive all the time, but if our focus is on making money all the time what will be the point of having so much of it if we can’t enjoy it.
The 2 Types of Travelers
When you travel abroad you encounter two types of travelers.
– Time Rich /Low Budget
– High Budget/Time Poor.
Everywhere you go you meet people, who are there for one to two weeks and have plenty of money to travel in luxury, stay at 5 star hotels and spend a lot on their 10-day yearly vacations. Then there are those folks who are traveling for extended periods of time without much funds, staying in hostels and couchsurfind around the world. We have meet plenty of people from both of these groups and they are all pretty happy with their lives, and at the end of the day that is all that matters, as long as people are living fulfilling happy lives, how each of us decides how to use our time and money should not matter as much.
Yes, we should all try to be as happy as this cat.
5. Live happy in the moment.
As technology advances and we start spending more time in front of a screen, there is so much abundance of information that we oftentimes jump online and forget about the real world. We start fantasizing of beautiful places to visit, of things to buy, etc. Even when you are 10,000 miles from home in an island in the middle of nowhere there is that temptation to open up instagram and start daydreaming of another exotic location. I have stopped using Social Media in these months a lot due to this. While I still enjoy every now and then check out what my family and friends are up to, the time wasted is time that I will never get back.
Live every moment at its fullest, even when you are at your desk in the office make sure you are aware of how lucky you are of having a job that pays the bills and lets you do other things as well.
We all need dreams and plans in life, but don’t get caught up in them, live day to day and enjoy every moment of it. Life is short so make sure you take chances and experience all of the things you want in life, but most importantly don’t forget that anything that you are experiencing right now is what life is made off.
I encourage every one of you to enjoy life, appreciate the simple moments in your days, stay in touch with friends and family, and if you love traveling to not think twice and just get out there and see the world.