After months of traveling, taking enough time to reflect upon it and talking about it with others I think it’s time to write down the things I’ve learned so far. Hopefully they can be of any help for your future travels or in general.
IT’S POSSIBLE TO LIVE FROM YOUR BACKPACK
Back home we gather so much stuff, stuff to live more comfortable, to please ourselves for a short while or to create a status. While being among all this material, one can hardly image being able to live with only the amount of stuff fitting in a backpack. But trust me, it’s not that difficult!
VEGAN FOOD WORLDWIDE
Although some parts on our lovely planet might still offer you a challenge, in general I found finding vegan food was less difficult than initially thought. Especially SE-Asia was pretty forgiving. And an important thing is your mindset, try to stay patient and persevere to find vegan deliciousness.
Some of us might start our travels with expectations and a specific mindset, this will most definitely impact the way you experience your adventure. Try to let go of your expectations and embrace the way you personally experience your travels. Big chance that different people will bring back different experiences from the same trip.
And give yourself some time if you need to adjust to the lifestyle and different world around you. After living in a campervan in New Zealand (during wintertime so very quite), coming back to Asia (Taipei) definitely took me some re-adjusting. I had to get used to seeing lots of people, traffic and high-rise, compared to mountains, sea and lots of sheep.
WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT YET SO THE SAME
Hopefully this trip made me more capable of looking through someone else’s perspective. Letting go of our personal gaze or colored glasses (I don’t know if this is a saying, I hope you get the point :) )
Traveling is a great way to feel connected to ‘different’ people around the world. It showed me how everyone is the same; we all have the same kind of suffering and the same joys, just in a different decor. The culture, surrounding, local customs, physical appearance and the smell of someone’s kitchen might be different, big chance you’ll see even more similarities along the way. We all strive for happiness and we all work to survive and get some bread on the table for our families.
I think the world would be a more peaceful and understanding place if we all traveled around and learned a bit more about other people we share our planet with. So go and shoot that xenophobic family-member or friend out into the open world and he will be ‘cured’ for sure!
I BROUGHT TOO MUCH
After my first trip to Morocco I thought I had learned my lesson.. But apparently this lesson might not be learned easily; don’t bring so much stuff with you!
I am the type of person that rather brings too much stuff as a precaution, then missing something when you desperately need it. Although I found out, most of the times you can just buy or borrow the stuff you need. Try to find out what stuff you really can’t find wherever you’re going and bring that along. Like normal soap and shampoo, without whitening, in SE-Asia.
If you’re interested; I also wrote a What to Pack- Vegan flashpacker-post
TRAVELING ALONE ISN’T SCARY, NOR SAD
My first solo traveling was in Morocco, which I loved. But this might be because I can be just by myself very well. But if you are one of those people that can’t be a alone for a minute, don’t worry if you start your adventure all alone! You will meet so many people along the road (it’s actually much easier when you are by yourself) and most of the time you can hop along or people will stick with you for a while.
And while I really enjoyed the company of my girlfriend while traveling these last months, taking some alone time might be a good thing for those traveling together with someone else. You can do and see whatever you want and it might break any tension that’s building up. Or you can do that yoga course while the other does the diving course you didn’t look so forward to.
Conclusion; unless you’re on the edge of Antarctica, in the middle of the jungle or hiding in a cave, you will meet other (friendly) people. But if you actually rather travel alone, just go your own way :)
TRAVELER’S RUSH EXISTS
Although some travelers might experience their ‘rush’ because they are addicted to experiencing new things, we actually went fast paced because of our pre-made planning. The times we slowed down was either because of food poisoning or because we had to wait on our visa’s, but reflecting on these times, we enjoyed having those extra days.
Try to have a good look at your schedule and wish-list of places to visit. While seeing more spots might seem attractive, if you feel like you didn’t have enough time to actually ‘feel’ the place it’s a shame afterwards. And another risk is burning out while traveling, so take some time to relax! Calculate the time you need to adjust, experience the place and to get sorted for leaving again.
And stay flexible; if you feel like the place you just arrived is a waste of time, feel free to leave and stay a bit longer at a place you really love.
YOU MIGHT GET BORED WHILE TRAVELING
Traveling fast-paced and seeing plenty of stuff might sound like the least boring thing in life. And although this is mostly true, you might reach a point where you want to actually do something. If you have a burning wish to develop your writing-, photography-, drawing-, or even math-skills, why not work on that while traveling? Or you’re craving for work but don’t want to stop traveling? Why not do some volunteering or work at a place that might earn you a little bit of money. If you’re not in a rush and have enough time, slow down, work a bit, do your own stuff; the world around you won’t run away from you and it will always spin. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a waste of your energy. Just decide whenever you feel ready to dive back in and you just killed your boredom!
WATCH YOUR EXPECTATIONS
I mentioned this one before but I will write about it a bit more since it is something I had quite some struggles with.
I must add that I studied illustration and concept art (creating awesome (sometimes fantasy/sci-fi) worlds for the entertainment industry), thus in my mind a waterfall can come from the flying rocks from the movie Avatar, mountains can be as high and steep as I want them to be (accompanied by a stream of lava of course), and colors as bright as my mind can comprehend. Now, if you have the same kind of fantasies (or even expectations!), let them stay back home! Go with a blank mind towards your adventure, expect nothing and be pleased (or awe-struck) with what is. Most places I had (unrealistically) high expectations of were doomed to disappoint me. And places I knew nothing about seemed to impress me pretty often.
And don’t take those gorgeous instagram pictures as a standard of the place you are going to. For example; Tam Coc’s rice fields (Vietnam) weren’t as lusciously green as I had seen on the pictures (since that was another season..) and the jungle in Laos wasn’t as jungly as I’ve seen in BBC Planet Earth documentaries (I probably compare it with the Amazon rainforest). You might have a cloudy week or a different (boring) season. Don’t even take my pictures as a reference, I only upload those I find most beautiful! Oh wait, I’ll upload some ‘normal’ ones as well to create some balance, they will be at the bottom :) Traveling isn’t always rainbows and sunshine.
You get the point!
DON’T TAKE OTHER TRAVELERS ADVICE FOR FACTS
Even everything I wrote here might be totally different for you. Some people we met hated Bangkok, while we actually enjoyed the city , some traveler will stick on the islands for as long as they can while others hate the sand between their toes and put on their hiking boots and run up to the mountains. Everything is experienced through one’s own gaze, defined by it’s own history and then read by someone (maybe totally) different.
Enjoy your travels, stay safe and healthy and hopefully you will learn lessons you can take with you for the rest of your life. And if not, than that’s ok too, just stay present and enjoy. Take care!
You might see and experience shots like seen in the pictures on the web. But some days are not so sunny, the season is showing you no flowers or you just don’t feel like those people always smiling in the pictures. Here is a different kind of photo-selection to break with norm a bit and hopefully giving you a more realistic expectation to start traveling with: (I actually had a hard time finding boring pictures, I guess I never bothered taking pictures of mundane stuff)
NORMAL AND ‘BORING’ PICTURES
So expect awesomeness, gorgeous views and amazing people, but don’t get beaten down by something less than you expected! :)