15 Lessons of Life I Learnt from Travels

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

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.

Desert Sunrise

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! ;)

Come along with me, on a virtual journey! Find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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  1. Don't give up, fight till the end... :)

  2. Loved - "We don't need half the things we think we need" and "What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger".


    1. Thanks for stopping by bobdiya. You've got a nice blog there.

  3. Absolutely awesome post!!! I agree with each n every point out there.. :)

  4. I agree. Fully. Because I have experienced them, most of the points. From my solo 6 days cycling.

    I would like to quote http://www.alastairhumphreys.com.
    ‎"Don't believe what you see on the TV: the world really is a good place."

  5. Good lessons learnt from travel buddy

  6. Wonderful piece. Sharing on the Yellowleg.com FB page.

  7. A travel writer has ARRIVED. Fantastic Write-up. Continue the good work. The photograph has a soul of its own.

    1. Thanks for the compliments aahrvea. I am all smiles here. :D

  8. "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." Love it and can't agree more :)

    1. ha ha, I know! I am so sick of all the useless garbage around me. Big headache is to manage it and keep them clean actually. ;)

  9. nice saying and great to read inspiring one should keep in mind throught out life

    1. Thanks D.V.R! Glad to know you thought this post was inspiring.

  10. Brilliant post Neelima...loved it!

  11. They have said it all...
    Its a Fantastic Write-up, I am in love with this Post:)

    Apologies, Please don't mind if i drop in again to re-read this writeup...

    1. he he, sure. As long as you contribute to the hits. :P

  12. Just one word for this post - "Brilliant!" Being someone who loves traveling, could absolutely relate to it..thanks for sharing and you write very very well!

  13. I really appreciate all that you have learned and shared. thanks a lot!

  14. Hi Neelima,
    Thanks for such a wonderful write up! I am happy for you.
    Your adventurous life is very inspiring. Wish you all the best.
    I came to this blog thru tapprs.com, aspire to be a photographer just like you!

  15. Traveling solo is an experience that I would say UNIQUE. When you are lone on a trip, you have the freedom of selecting your schedule, destinations, activities, and almost everything as you desire. This doesn't mean that traveling with friends and family is inferior to traveling solo. It all depends on your mood and situation. After all, what counts more is the joy of travel.

  16. Beautifully written Neelima. In this busy life, the only relief I have is the mountains that are waiting for me. One of the places I love to trek to is Meesapulimala. The place never ceases to amaze me.


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