Lessons from the road
Lessons from the road
I started traveling when I was so young that I could barely remember anything from my first trips abroad. I remember that I firstly stopped in Italy and throughout the years it became my big love. Later on, I traveled to various destinations, from north to south, from west to east, exploring new cultures and trying to understand as much as I could every time. The travel addiction caught me and it does not look that it will leave me alone very soon, but throughout the years, between planes, buses, trains, and cars I learned so many things.
Humans around the world
We are all humans, with dreams, hopes, good moments, and bad days. We all have an emotional luggage that we carry around and that influences us in unexpected ways. We all have triggers that we do not know about, fears we do not talk about and decisions that we are not proud of. So, I judge no one and I criticise no one’s actions, I do not look for explanations and I blame no one. In my simple philosophy of life, I either do good to someone or I say nothing at all.
On the road, I found so many different things. I could spend weeks talking about the oddities that I found, but they are strange through my eyes and because of my experience. For some other people they might be routine. However, while traveling, I learnt to have more respect for people, nature, history, culture, and each person’s past. I wear almost instinctively only long pants or skirts when I travel to Muslim countries and I never ask about historical events such as the Holocaust. I choose to quitely respect all of them and avoid conversations around these topics.
The comfort zone
Travelling is an amazing journey that I hope everyone could try at least once in their lives. It takes you out of your comfort zone, pushes and tests your limits in a way that it is impossible not to change you as a human being. I use traveling as a tool to experience more, to identify fears that I still have and ways to overcome them. At this point in my life, I can sleep literally anywhere without being bothered and there is no problem if I have to take cold showers.
At the same time, I am more open to trying new things: destinations, sports, dishes. New is not good or bad, it is just different and it comes in different forms, tastes and approaches. I discovered during my travels that I like things I never imagined I would. I became a big fan of the Turkish Baklava, but I never crave paella. I like going to Magrebian countries, even if I do not belong here and, I wish I could settle in Porto at some point in my life.
Wandering around the world taught me to smile more often, regardless of who they are or where I met them. I smile to the kids who play on the street, to the sellers from the local markets or to strangers who look at me confused because I am a solo female traveller. I smile to my room mates in the hostels, to the security officers in the airports and to the waitress where I have lunch. This smile helped me meet amazing people in the places where I went and, at the same time, more than once helped some others feel better.
When did you smile the last time to someone you did not know?
I learnt on the road to be brave enough to speak up. It was very hard for me, but nowadays I have no problem saying “No”, when I feel that is the answer. I took more risks during my travels than I did in my entire life, but I am more tolerant with myself. “It is normal to make mistakes” told me a few years ago, but being a citizen of the world taught me the real meaning of that sentence. Therefore, in all these years I chose some of my destinations from today to tomorrow, I lost half of my budget trying to avoid losing a plane (that I lost anyway) and I learnt driving a scooter.
Nothing is perfect
There is nothing perfect in this world and even traveling has its own flaws. Walking up and down for 35 kilometers in Budapest made my feet hurt for more than one week and waking up daily at 5 am to catch the sunrise still makes me moody.
There are moments when nothing goes according to the plan either. Flights get cancelled or delayed, the luggage gets lost (and never comes back) and the chance to be the only woman from a room are high on several occasions. “And now what?” I tell myself, while remembering that these are only unexpected situations and the world did not come to an end. Smile and move on!