It’s that time of the year again when everyone’s reflecting on the twelve months gone by – the highs and lows; and are earnestly making resolutions that they fully intend to keep.
I’ve been looking back at the past year, thinking about my travels and making my dream ‘bucket list’ for 2014. However, I feel hesitant to close the book on 2013 just yet because my travels in the year, have brought me so much joy.
My birthday trip to Mexico was one of the best vacations I ever experienced. Sunshine in February? What’s not to love!?
A memorable trip to Vienna, staying at the incredible Sofitel Stephansdom is another cherished memory.
I enjoyed gallivanting in Berlin for a couple of days in August; and setting foot in Hungary for the first time just before Christmas.
But above all, I managed to squeeze in not one but TWO month-long trips to South Africa this year (not an easy feat with a full time job!), and I loved every moment spent with family and friends back home.
There have been so many highs and lows I’ve experienced while travelling, but my love for getting on a plane/ boat/ car in a quest to discover a new place will never diminish.
So, while I’m reflecting on this year and feeling all philosophical, here are 7 things my travels in 2013 have thought me.
1. Getting lost can help you find yourself
Whether it be missing the bus on an organized tour, or straying from the well-signed path to find the perfect gelato…getting lost in a foreign country can be a frightening experience. First, think cloud. Then, think silver lining and let yourself discover what would have never been if you hadn’t strayed.
2. Attitude is everything
It’s been said a thousand times, but the attitude in which you approach any situation can spell the difference between a great day or a bad one. This is especially true when travelling.
3. Language barriers are just an excuse
Yes, no one there speaks English. Yes, Mandarin may very well be the world’s most difficult language. But you know what? People will find a way to communicate when they need to. Be it wild hand gestures or good ‘ol Google translate – language barriers should never be the reason not to travel.
4. My <insert issue here> problem is really insignificant
Travel opens our eyes to the real issues of this world. Typically if you’re fortunate enough to be able to travel, you’re probably better off than a vast majority of the world’s population. Complaints about the weather or traffic somehow get put into perspective once you’ve spent some time outside your comfort zone.
5. People are inherently good
Sure I’ve been a victim of crime – I’ve had my bag snatched right in the middle of a bustling Champs-Élysées. I’ve seen more than my fair share of tourist traps and scams aimed at unsuspecting travelers. And yet, I know that generally speaking, most people are inherently good. Maybe it was that stranger in Berlin who took a full ten minutes to give me directions to the East Side Gallery, and then went on to mark all the appropriate metro stops on my map. All I know is, I’ve stumbled across far more good people on my travels than bad, and at the core, we all just want the same thing: to live and let live.
6. Patience is a virtue
You’ve heard the old adage before, and as a traveler the words should be etched onto the cover of your passport. Waiting for planes, waiting for buses, trains or boats, waiting in line at the temples or museums…put a smile on your face and live in the moment.
7. Plan, plan, plan – and then leave room for the unexpected
I’m a control freak. There – I said it. I like to plan everything down to the last detail, and rarely leave anything to chance. And while most of the time I do enjoy the fruits of my planning labor, I am all too aware that even the best laid plans can go awry, and the unexpected can be just around the corner.
So armed with these 7 travel life lessons, I’m ready to conquer 2014, and all it has to bring!
Happy New Year and Bon Voyage!