When I look at myself today and talk about my opinions and perspective, I can see a drastic change from how I thought a year ago. My likes and dislikes, my choice of where to spend my money, and my priorities have changed. A lot of this is because of my experiences during my travels- incidents, places, and people which changed me as a person. So today, I want to write 5 eminent lessons my travelling experince taught me and how they’ve changed the person that I am today.
- The world isn’t as unsafe as we perceive it to be
I wish I could get a dollar every time somebody asked me, “Oh, you’re travelling alone… Have you seen the movie Taken?” I don’t blame my friends and family for being concerned about my safety. For my parents to let out their only child alone in a country (or countries) they know nothing about isn’t the easiest thing to do! So more than me, they’re brave! If there is one thing I can say, it is that the world isn’t as unsafe as we perceive it to be. I don’t deny that there does exist crime (specially against women) and there are measures we should take when we’re on our own, but the danger of being out there on your own is totally hyped up. I have got lost in midnight and my phone has conked off and I didn’t know the way back home, but not even once did I feel threatened or unsafe generally. It obviously does depend on the place for instance I won’t be out alone in the streets of Delhi or a small town in Slovenia, but that’s where common sense plays a role!
- The Importance of Getting Rid of Preconceived Notions
I came across a lot of preconceived notions such as ‘In England, Britishers are snobbish’ or ‘Germans are rude’, etc. To defy this, may I please add that Britishers are the only people I’ve seen who use their ‘please’ and ‘thank yous’ and ‘sorrys’ more than anybody else! Not just that, I remember when in Berlin I was speaking to a group people from the U.K. and a conversation about the Kohinoor popped up when one guy actually apologised. Apologised for something his country did decades ago! I haven’t seen this kind of courtesy and respect by anybody else. In another instance, I was told not to tell Germans to click my pictures because they will bluntly decline and I’ll end up embarrassing myself. Not only did I tell them to click my pictures, but when asked for directions, a couple walked me all the way to the street I had to go to.
I learnt how important it is to make your mind a complete blank slate and just not have preconceived notions about anything. Don’t assume about the people, the food, the place- nothing. Just go with a blank mind and discover for yourself!
I don’t need to explain much here.
When you meet people from across the world, when you walk by the Berlin Wall which hundreds of people died crossing, when you stand on top of the Salzburg Castle and look at the entire city from there- you realise how small you are and how big the world is.
There’s a big big world out there, and a lot to see- and nothing else counts. Not the brand of your shirt, not the logos on your belt and bags, these are all the things you can get over with but experiences which make you feel this way stay with you forever. To my surprise, once I was back I realised how little value material has in my life because nothing made me feel the way these experiences did. I did come back more grounded, because as humans we take an insignificant space in this big world.
- Not all Strangers are Dangerous
I feel as Indians and specially as Indian females, we are kept in such a conservative environment and it’s deeply embedded in us to always stay closed. Don’t talk to strangers, don’t listen to anybody you don’t know, don’t befriend random people. In my experience, as unreal as it sounds, I didn’t meet a single ‘stranger’ who I found dangerous. I met strangers who helped me reach from one place to another; strangers who wrote down names of their local food for me to try; strangers who I partied with; strangers who walked with me to show their local streets and see their city from a local’s eyes; strangers who actually cooked authentic food for me – how crazy does that sound! Technically since I was alone, everybody was a stranger, right? Lesson learnt, not all strangers are bad. Personally, I feel your vibe attracts the people around you and if all you give is happiness and positivity, you attract that J
- “Travelling is expensive”- is the most overhyped statement
I do understand how weak the Indian Rupee is in terms of currency conversion, and it makes everything for us just so damn expensive! I agree I had it easy considering I was living in England and my access to Europe was comparatively easier- but travelling isn’t as expensive as its perceived to be. It was, earlier. Today, there are thousands of backpackers and hostels and eateries who cater to them. There are people who travel on a shoe-string budget of 5 euros a day! There are hacks foe everything- from making your own breakfast to living in hostels. Earlier, since there were no hostels one paid Rs.5000-7000 per night. My hostels were anywhere between Rs.600-Rs. 3,500- and all my hostels were extremely good because they were all centrally located and clean & tidy! I will also do a detailed post on travelling cheap soon. I also recently created an itinerary of 3 Eastern European countries and the entire upper-hand budget was about Rs.1.2 lakh (including tickets, food, accommodation, everything else) for a span of 2 weeks. See, if do your research right it isn’t impossible!