Life teaches us lessons in many ways. But we choose to understand only when it is told in a way we like. Years of education and years of corporate life didn’t teach me what travel taught me in few years. Here’s what I learned.
1. Step into the unknown, you will be rewarded
It is okay to take risks. In fact it is a good thing to take risks. There can be only two outcomes. If it goes well you will have an amazing experience and if it doesn’t you’ll have a good learning to take back with you. Everyone warned me against going to Sikkim in monsoons but I did anyway. That was probably one of the best trips of my life till date. It is okay to take risks. It pays off well half the time!
2. You always had it in you, you just didn't know
The thing about travel is it forces you out of your comfort zone. Travel makes you do things you never thought you could do. It shows you the strength you never thought you had. I never thought I could travel solo, until I did. So next time I find myself wondering if I can do something new, I’ll just go ahead and try it.
3. Luck favors the bold
Again back to Sikkim, looks like that one trip taught me lots! Despite the bad weather we proceeded towards Gurudongmar Lake after many days of wait. The day looked no better. The roads were totally deserted and it rained all the time. But we went ahead anyway. Just as we reached the lake, the sky cleared, the sun shined and the lake dazzled. The army guys posted there said it hasn’t been sunny in days. Looks like lady luck smiles on those who dare. Oh wait, I think it is who dares wins! :)
4. Destroy your prejudices and look beyond
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness” is what a very wise person said. I thought so many places were boring before I visited them. But every such place only managed to surprise me and change my opinion. What was I thinking anyway in forming ideas without knowing anything about those places? Having an open mind can not only make travel better but also it can make our lives easier and better. Appearances can be deceptive, next time I will try not to judge a book by its cover.
5. Smile is the universal language
A smile can take you a long way. If you are traveling most of the time, being grumpy is not an option. Smile is the universal language, everyone can understand it and the best thing is, it is totally free! Next time around, smile at that lady in the store or that bus conductor. I promise you will feel good.
6. Don't give up, fight till the end
We have seen countless movies and million matches where the game turns around in the very last moment. That is the secret of success, never giving up, until the very end. In Sikkim, last year, most of the roads reported landslides. Our driver was happy to know that because he thought he could take us back to Gangtok and take leave. But we refused. We wanted to go see it ourselves. He and his friends mocked us for our ignorance. But once we reached the landslide area, the army had just opened the road. It was cleared. “In your face losers!” is what we thought.
7. Patience is a virtue
Before I used to travel, I had the patience to last about a second. Every second I had to wait for the bus irritated me and anger was a constant companion. Then I started waiting at the airports to catch the flight. Today if I have to wait, I wouldn’t mind, I will write a post meanwhile or maybe just catch a nap but I certainly won’t go crazy like I used to earlier.
8. Good things come to those who wait
Because I am oh-so-patient now, I don’t mind waiting. Oh wait, I told you that already. So now-a-days I am in no hurry to rush somewhere. I take my time, like that weekend where few of us patiently waited for the sunset. We didn’t know something good would come, but we waited. And just as expected, a brilliant scene was unfolding in front of us. The rest, who left, missed the clouds, not us, because we waited.
9. All things happen for a reason
After years, if you sit down and correlate all the events, in most cases it turns out everything that happened, happened for the best. I certainly don’t mean resign to your fate and do nothing. But when despite your best efforts things go wrong, wait it out, something good will come out of it. When I fell sick and had to miss the Stok Kangri Trek, I went to an unlikely destination. That was super fun and today I get my chance again to summit the missed mountain. Now that worked out well, didn’t it?
10. Happiness is only real when shared
Truer words have not been spoken. We all are social beings after all. I come back and share my stories with you, with my friends, with my family. We have to share, share our love, experiences, knowledge, curiosities and happiness. Only then it makes our life worthwhile.
11. Be thankful for what you have
It is quite easy to take everything for granted without appreciating its value. When we travel, we see how fortunate we have been to have what we have. There are many people who don’t have access to half the conveniences we enjoy.
12. We don't need half the things we think we need.
When you live out of a backpack for a month you’ll understand how less we actually need to live. And when you come back and try to clean your room, you’ll understand how much of rubbish we have accumulated under the illusion that we need so many things to live.
13. Silly is so much fun
Being silly is the best way to have fun, seriously! When my friend said she wants to stand on the standing camel, we all had incredulous looks on our faces, both my friends and the camel owner. But she did stand on the 8 foot animal and then she fell down from that height too. Later I stood on it as well. It was so much fun!
14. Change is constant, nothing will go as planned. Enjoy it!
You can’t plan your life. Heck, you can’t even plan a two week trip and expect everything to happen accordingly, let alone a plan that will stand good for a 100 years. Change is constant, embrace it. Without that surprise at the corner of the road, life will be quite drab, don’t you think?
15. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger
There are so many times during travel when we feel scared. “Why didn’t I stay back at the hotel tonight?” “Why didn’t I choose a safer destination?” “Why didn’t I inform someone I am coming here?” “Why am I here instead of the comforts of my home?” But every mistake you do is a lesson learned. Every bad situation you got out of only made you stronger and wiser. But please, just don’t repeat the same mistake again! ;)