15 best travel lessons after a decade of traveling the world

Every time I travel I learn something new and realize no matter how old am getting, I am still a newbie in the school of life. Here are some of the most unforgettable experiences and lessons gathered over last 10 years of our traveling.

15 best travel lessons by Travel JauntsLessons I learnt from a decade of traveling

  1. Most people in the world are nice and similar in many ways.

Not sure why, doesn’t happen in other areas of life every time but traveling, definitely yes. Everyone I meet during my travels turns out to be a good or a better person nothing less. And it’s amazing to experience goodness when you travel the world.

We are so fed with negative news, negative media, flights & riots, the hatred that it is obvious to get disillusioned at times. However, when you see love, care, honesty, hard work still very much alive in various parts of the world, the belief in life per se gets stronger.

Am not denying, occasionally we may have come across a few unfriendly, rude or money minded, probably 1% of the lot. But what matters is the 99%. Today when I recall my experiences I get filled with gratitude for so many of those amazing souls I came across who not only inspired me by their kindness but also have helped me in many ways especially when I have traveled alone with my kid.

  1. Language of love, respect and smile works everywhere

We are all connected and my firm belief is that no matter how vastly different world cultures are, we are all alike and want the same things like validation, love, security and hope for a better life. Hence, no matter where you go, it is important to treat everyone with love and respect irrespective of religion, country, social status or job.

Simple words like thank you, please, sorry and a big smile make a lot of difference. Words of appreciation and an attitude of gratitude can work wonders to melt hearts and help you get your work done in the most unexpected places and circumstances at times.

  1. Traveling is not synonymous to luxurious comforts and huge spending.

Traveling style is something personal. Some people like staying in a swanky place and spending time within the resort, some people may like grass root level traveling and backpacking, some people prefer traveling solo, some prefer family travel however one thing is for sure if you love traveling, it is not the lack of money which makes your travel dreams an unlikely possibility but it your style of traveling and your preferences.

If you can afford luxury all the time, well and good but if you love luxury more than travel, in that case, it is the money which would be a determining factor. Otherwise, there are many people who have left everything for the sake of traveling the world. They do long terms traveling, take up part-time jobs abroad to support themselves and stay contended in most situations. It is a misconception in most people that traveling the world means having lots of money.

4.You don’t have to leave your family and children behind to pursue your travel passion.

While it may sound something far fetched but it is true for many families in the world who have chosen travel for a living. There are families who are homeschooling their children, working abroad on short-term projects and traveling throughout the year.

For us, even though traveling is a priority we have given equal importance to our child’s school education and to elderly care. And hence we are not into long-term travel but short term travels (15-20 days at a stretch) as and when possible. In fact, there have been instances that we have taken short breaks almost every month.

I specifically wanted to mention this point, because I have seen people become paranoid after their children are born. They restrict and refrain themselves from doing many things and one of these could be travel. In fact, the restraint in their minds is not even child’s age dependent. I have heard from a mother of adolescent children telling me that her daughter’s menstrual cycles are a big problem when planning the dates for a trip.

We have been traveling with our child since he was a 3-month-old infant. We took him to Europe when he was 11 months old. It’s been 8 years since then, today he is a traveler. This doesn’t mean things were perfect all the time but it is alright. Things do go wrong in life despite all precautions and preparations. They way we don’t stop living, why to restrict traveling?

Most importantly, traveling teaches patience and tolerance. Today our child can adjust in many situations which make people wonder at times. The whole idea is not to get too hassled. It’s ok to have periods while traveling. It’s ok if you have stomach upset while trekking. It’s ok if you have to travel by a local rickety bus with your small kid. It’s ok to eat street food, it’s ok if your child vomits while traveling and it’s ok if you have to wait for more than 9 hours at a railway station before you can finally board the train with your small child.

I have been through all of these situations. And these were all part of learning. Our children too should know that we may not always find the world and circumstances to be perfect and what matters is our reaction to the uncomfortable situations. So, please do take your kids along in your journeys whenever possible.

I have been through all of these situations. And these were all part of learning. Our children too should know that we may not always find the world and circumstances to be perfect and what matters is our reaction to the uncomfortable situations. So, please do take your kids along in your journeys whenever possible.

By the way families needn’t restrict themselves to family travel only. Apart from traveling with kids during school vacations, parents can take small breaks on other occasions too and enjoy various other traveling styles as well depending on what is possible and doable.

For eg solo travel, backpacking, couple travel, traveling with your own set of family and friends. We do that. Last year I did trekking with my spouse. Took my mother and my child to Pench and drove my in-laws to Ranthambore for a wildlife experience when my husband couldn’t join. Each of these trips were quite fulfilling and helped create better bonding among ourselves.

  1. Preparation does help especially when traveling as a family with children.

We prefer to plan our itinerary(every day’s to do and to see plan) well in advance rather than reaching a place and deciding what to do especially when we are with our child. And that really helps.

For travel packing too, we make a list after checking the weather conditions and then pack based on the destination type. Our child’s doctor gives us a travel medicine kit for our child depending on his weight and age which we carry every time for any emergency situation.

Not just pre-planning and booking but also simple things like keeping some snacks and water everytime you are going to be out with kids, keeping some children movies on your laptop for long distance travels and keeping your child’s fav book or toy for outstation trips can save you from a lot of troubles.

In fact, I am one of those who may be seen carrying an extra fruit even after a heavy breakfast at hotels during travels. Many times this unwanted healthy (tasteless) fruit has saved me and my husband from acidity problems.

  1. There is so much to learn, you get lessons in the most unlikely situation by most unlikely people.

Can recall a few top of mind instances here:-

  • While driving from Jammu to Dharamshala highway, we had come across small school children who were walking kilometers in such difficult terrains only to study. That made us realize that education is also a privilege and we should be thankful for it.
  • The second case, while going to Mandu from Indore, we came across a crossroad with hardly 2 cars crossing in two hours, where a very old lady was selling guavas. I really wondered at her level of motivation to even think of selling in such an unlikely place with hardly any people around. People work hard, they really do!
  • In Gujarat, we came across a man who did not just speak Indian culture but truly followed it. Just because we had faced some problem with keeping our luggage in tourist office where he worked, he treated us (me, my son, my mother and a friend) with scrumptious lunch so that we don’t form a bad impression about Gujarat and Gujaratis.
  • In Prague too, I was amazed by the helping behavior of the owner of our apartment. He was such a fine gentleman, the least materialistic man in the world full of materialism.
  •  Gir, how can I forget that day? I shall always be indebted to a lady employee in Taj Gir, who rose much above her duty to help us as a caring and loving human being when my son vomited all over the hotel Taj from entrance to lobby, to restaurant to their bathroom.Frankly, I didn’t sense even the slightest of disappointment or irritation in the employees of Taj despite the fact that we were not even staying there.

That makes me admit that the best hospitality company in India is Taj Group of hotels.From lessons on selling to love and care, the world is the greatest learning school.the more you travel, the more people you meet and the more you learn.

  1. Spend money when you are with family or traveling as couples.

Romantic evening by Travel jaunts

Romantic evening by Travel jaunts

Spend money when it is warranted especially when you are with your family. Plan activities for children even if that may cost a little extra at times. With your spouse too, a candle night dinner, a cruise or a special evening is much more valuable and precious than certain bucks here and there.

Don’t always go for the cheapest options, safety, and hygiene is first when traveling with family and children. And most importantly, don’t wait for next time, you never know when that time will come.

  1. Pack light

Not something new. The more we learn to travel light, the more comfortable we become with traveling. It is as simple as that. And the fact is some of the less important things are easier to buy in a foreign land, even cost effective than carrying it.

For example, if you are an American tourist, planning to cook your own meals while traveling across developing nations, you needn’t carry grocery because you will get food cheaper, food items much cheaper.

  9.Precautions regarding documents and your own safety.

Keep a soft copy of all your important documents, cards, travel itineraries and phone numbers safe either using one of the apps or email everything to yourself as well as to your parents. Let people closest to you know about your whereabouts. Talk/Whatsapp or send SMS to your family as and when possible especially when you are into solo travel.

10. Some risks are worth taking.

Travel is personal.You may like to take a risk, you may not. However I would say drink mountain dew and just go ahead, best things lie on the other side of the fear.Whether it was 15th August (Indian Independence date) and curfew situation in Kashmir or risk associated with traveling to the western desert in Egypt, we are sure that it was all worth doing.

All of us have fears. Fears of various kinds from driving to staying in a jungle to traveling alone with your child however only when you take the step forward despite the fear, you can have some of the most beautiful experiences in life.

Some of the thrilling experience we have had are parasailing, paragliding, high altitude trek, hot air balloon ride, Jungle camping & wildlife safari, river water rafting, bungee and many more things including playing Holi in India. Don’t miss any of these.

11.When you feel someone is good, reward him then and there.

There have been instances when I have come across very simple, naïve and hardworking employees working in hotels or travel companies especially in India who I wanted to reward for being who they were but couldn’t.

One such case was a hard working man I came across in a jungle camp. Despite wanting to really help him in some way, I missed the moment. I wanted to clear the bill first and by the time I came out of the reception office, he had left the place as he wasn’t expecting anything from anyone.

This is one lesson which is really important. The way we express our dissatisfaction and irritation over bad service levels or greedy behavior, similarly we should reward all the people we feel are genuinely good. I believe we are all energy beings and we do feel things beyond words and actions so just trust your instinct, express your gratitude and reward people who you think deserve it.

12.Mingle with locals, eat local food, listen to stories.

When we travel the world, we meet different people with different cultures and views. Someone’s right is someone’s wrong. It’s important to seek out people with different belief systems and opinions to widen your own perspective of the world and situations. Talk to people, get to know their side of the story.

For ex, listening to News about Kashmir will tell you one part of the story, following a Pakistani blog or an Indian blog on Kashmir will tell you another, stories of Kashmiri Pandits who were thrown out of Kashmir will tell you about one more part, talking to Muslims in Srinagar and Muslims out of Srinagar is again a different part.

Traveling is much more beyond taking a flight, staying in hotels and sightseeing. Indeed the best way to absorb the history and culture of any place is trying out local things, talking to locals, learning from their different ways of life. Become a Roman in Rome basically.

13.No one is inferior, no one is superior to you.

Leave your presumptions at home when you travel. Not all people living in underdeveloped nations are poor & conventional, not all whites are racist, not all Muslims are involved in terrorism, not all Brazilians play football and not all Bengalis like fish.

In the world flooded with information and all sorts of inputs, it makes more sense not to jump to conclusions soon enough because there is always more to the story than the restricted superficial part we get to see and understand about anyone and anything.

The more important thing would be to listen and absorb at least till someone finishes what he has to say. All of us are on a journey with our respective challenges, no one has figured it out all and this is true from millionaire to a so-called saint to a party animal to a beggar on the road, to miss Cool.

14.The time is now.

Why postpone your travel dreams for tomorrow. Who knows if one will be alive after say 2 years from now. Slow down, take time out. Make many travel memories, lots of them. You will never regret them as a family or a couple. It will always be more precious than any of your possessions.

Planning actitivities with Children by Travel Jaunts

Planning activities with Children by Travel Jaunts

15.Humility and Appreciation

This one comes from my trek experience in the Himalayas.

  • The fact that we all have different life stories and situations should make us humble enough to appreciate everyone irrespective of where one stands in the race.
  • Each one of us has his/her our own pace and if we start to run to catch up with others in the race and forget to enjoy the journey, we may end up injuring ourselves. It’s important to appreciate our uniqueness, our pace, and our capabilities.

 

 

 

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