Time flew so fast and another year has already passed. And as part of my yearly ritual, I’d like to share with you the learning and realization that our Meet the Nomads participants had in their travels.
We asked our fellow nomads, What’s the biggest realization that you’ve got out of travelling? And here’re their response.
Angel Juarez of Lakwatsero: “In Palaui Island, while searching for the lighthouse of Cape Engano with Gael of Pinaysolobackpacker. We didn’t reach the lighthouse but it was a day of appreciation and realization, of friendship and survival. A reminder that the journey is as important as the destination.”
Roy of The Riding Dutchman: “Travel is one realization after another. The most important thing is to let go of what we know, let go of our comfort zone and don’t be afraid. Once you open your mind to opportunities, other cultures and other people, you get so much in return. One experience after another; some good, some bad, but always a new story to add to our list that contributed to our personal growth.”
Paul Xymon Garcia of Walk Fly Pinoy: “Things fall right into place when you do the things you are absolutely passionate about. I have always dreamed of becoming a travel writer and photographer. It was something I didn’t like admitting to myself for fear that I will fail at achieving it. When I decided to go backpacking mid-2011, pursuing that dream was really not what I was thinking about. I knew I just wanted to travel. But hey, things just started coming in. Photos got featured and published and I am now, at the moment, writing for a couple of magazines about my travels. I hope everything continues to go well. So I guess, I am slowly getting to the dream. It’s funny how things work out when you do the things you love.”
Amer of Tend to Travel: “As much as we are curious about other people, they are also curious to know more about you. Though this is more obvious in developing nations such as Albania and Egypt for instance. I love travel simply because I get the opportunity to meet a lot of locals. In fact, its been easier when I travelled solo. Talking to them, I’ve realized that we all have common values no matter where we are in the world.”
Michael Turtle of Time Travel Turtle: “That everyone is the just the same. By that I mean it doesn’t matter where you live, how you grew up or what you’ve faced in your life. Human beings are ultimately the same people deep down and that’s why we’re able to connect despite language and cultural differences. The strangers you meet around the world may look different on a superficial level but you quickly realise they have the same values and emotions as you do. Except taxi drivers in Asia – they’re evil!”
Anthony of The Travel Tart: “The more I learn about other countries, the more I learn about my own! And that while we all might do things differently, basic human needs and emotions are universal.”
Wendell Cagape of Journeys and Travels: “My travels lately are ones that I take for self-rediscovery and reawakening. The biggest realization I have about travelling is that I gained new memories that I will bring me to another destination and meet challenges that also make me understand life more. I have a great career and one that offers me financial security but those does not give me the happiness I found in travelling and meeting new people and making them your lifetime friends. A recent trip to Vietnam made me appreciate how it is to live in a cosmopolitan metropolis and the experience I gained crossing the streets of Ho Chi Minh City taught me one thing: risk and security oftentimes come together with sheer courage and of course, wits!”
Gareth Leonard of Tourist 2 Townie: “Family and friends are everything, most “problems” are nothing and anything is possible.’
Gregory Rodgers of Vagabonding Life: “Despite differences in religion, culture, and toilets, people around the world are the same: they just want to wake up happy. I’ve found my life calling, and after six years of traveling I now know that there’s no getting off this train!”
John Spirov of Inspiring Travellers: “That I’m a lot happier on the road than I am stuck in one place.”
Alexandra Kovacova of Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler: “It’s not the money but time what you need to travel. And guts to do so, too. Of course, there are good and bad people, good and bad days and not everything is going to be the way you plan it but it all belongs to traveling and it all teaches you lessons.”
Maria Alexandra Laborde of Latin Abroad: “That I will never be able to stop and have a “normal American life.” Also, that my career must be mobile. I realized this after a broken heart and traveling/living abroad for 16 months. Moving and seeing new things constantly keep me alive. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but I am definitely going after what makes me happy!”
Stephanie of The Travel Chica: “That I have to build the life I want. I made this travel sabbatical happen because I wanted the experience. In my travels, I have met people with incredible stories, and I realized they did not just get lucky. They worked for it. I have also started reading blogs (never did that before my travel sabbatical), and I have found a lot of great sites that focus on the type of lifestyle I want and the type of person I want to be. I realize it is important to surround yourself with positive people who support you (even if it is from another part of the world) and remove any negative influences. This is even more important when you are traveling long-term and physically separated from your support network back home.”
Michael Schuermann of Easy Hiker: “To quote Thoreau, that it’s not worth travelling half way around the world to count the cats in Zanzibar.”
Will Peach of My Spanish Adventures: “Probably that humans are humans wherever you go. Everybody wants the best for their family, everybody wants the basics: happiness, food, shelter, love and that there isn’t much more to life than that. Growing up in the UK it’s easy to get sidetracked by the conventionalities of modern society: the consumerism, the greed, the needless time wasted doing meaningless tasks – travelling has taught me to take a step back and just connect. The art of conversing with people, finding out about the philosophies and perspectives of those around you is, for me, the most interesting thing about travelling.”
Daniel Nahabedian of Canvas of Light: “I could be very cliche and reply that the world is small and people are all similar etc.. but I guess the biggest realizations are actually all about myself. I’ve learned to know my strengths, my weaknesses, my passion, control my fears.. I traveled across the world not only to discover different cultures, but also to completely rediscover myself.”
Barbara of The Dropout Diaries: “That changing locations won’t make you happy if you are carrying a problem with you. That’s something I slowly came to realise after several years of meeting other travellers and expats. If you think leaving home to travel will automatically turn you into a joyous motivated energetic person, you are going to be very disappointed. You will still be you, no matter where you are in the world. For some people that realisation is very liberating, for others it’s incredibly depressing.”
Jeremy Albelda of The World or Bust: “That I am the master of my own universe. When I travel, I feel like I have complete control of every minute of my life (most of the time) and I love the freedom to do, see and experience whatever I want to, when I want to. I feel like that sentiment gets muted a little bit when I’m back home in the states.”
John of Travel Rinse Repeat: “I set out on my first ever solo trip to Denmark right after college. Before leaving, I was absolutely terrified. I didn’t speak the language, didn’t know where I was going, and didn’t know anyone in the country But after the first week when I realized that the majority of my fears and concerns were unfounded and that I was capable of traveling on my own, I felt a fleeting moment of pride – until a pigeon pooped directly into my water bottle.”
Laurence Norah of Finding the Universe: “I worked out what is important to me, which is just to be happy and free. I learnt that experiences are far more valuable than possessions. And I learnt that beetroot is actually pretty good on a burger.”
Paula Peralejo of Our Restless Feet: “I hope you don’t mind me answering three:
1. We are all different, but we are more the same.
2. Traveling really opens your mind as well as your heart.
3. Traveling should be an avenue to give more than take more.”
Dustin Main of Skinny Backpacker: “Where you are born has a lot to do with the kind of life you are able to live. Since I was born in a place called Canada, between invisible lines that humans lay down across the globe to make countries, it has enabled me to travel the world easily, not worry about health care, or getting an education.
My friends in other countries aren’t necessarily so lucky. Being born in Cambodia instead of Canada means they will almost certainly never be able to travel the world with the freedom I’m allowed with a Canadian passport, and things I take for granted are daily issues for them. All because they were born between different sets of invisible lines than I was.”
Matt Gibson: “I was hitchhiking home one summer day when I was sixteen. I was about 200km away and I had to make it home that day. I didn’t have money or a tent. A friendly grey haired man with an old car had given me a ride on a small secondary highway. He had to turn off the highway onto a dirt road to get where he was going, so he dropped me off. I was probably 100km from the nearest town.
I stepped out onto the dusty shoulder of the road and watched his car drive down the dirt road until it disappeared. I looked up the highway in one direction, and then the other. There were no cars as far as the eye could see. Billowy white clouds moved slowly across the sky casting enormous shadows on the valley bottom. I had recently discovered Led Zepplin. I took out my discman and put on Led Zeppelin III and lit a cigarette, alone in the big empty valley.
They say that heroin addicts keep taking heroin because they’re chasing the feeling they had the first time they tried it. If the same can be said for travel, I’ve been chasing the feeling I had that day ever since.
At that moment, as I stood on the side of the road, alone, in the sun, waiting for a ride that may never come, it became clear that I had no control over what was going to happen to me–like being adrift in a small boat at sea–and that there was nobody I could rely on but myself. I gazed at the mountains and the clouds. I felt incredibly alone and completely free.
It was an epiphany. We are all adrift in a small boat at sea.”
Mariellen Ward of Breathe Dream Go:”The biggest realization I’ve had is that I am a free spirit. For years, I wondered if there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t tied down with a husband, mortgage, career and kids. I could just never find my place. Now I think it’s because my place is on the road. Well, more accurately, on a train. Whenever I picture joy in my imagination, I picture me standing between train bogeys in India, with the door flung open to allow the sunshine to stream in. The warm breeze is blowing, my hair is flying, a couple of Indian people are grinning at me, and picturesque scenes of the rural Indian countryside are flowing by. That’s happiness to me, the feel of movement, the joy of being in India.
But I’ve realized a lot of other things, too, such as how strong I am, and how I can handle a lot more than I ever thought. And about how kind most people are.”
Bret Love of Green Global Travel: “That this world is full of beautiful, unspoiled travel destinations truly deserving of our protection and conservation. I have a 10-year-old daughter, and I want to make sure that all the endangered species I’ve been fortunate enough to see in their natural habitats are still around when her generation gets to be my age. We believe Ecotourism is the key to that. More than anything, that was our inspiration for starting Green Global Travel.”
Check out Meet the Nomads – A Year of Learning Part 2.