10 Things I’ve Learned From Travelling

10 Things I’ve Learned From Travelling

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If like me, you love the idea of travel and you love to learn new things; then you’ll be able to take something from this post! Travel is one of the best ways you can learn, develop and share ideas or knowledge. It can be between new people or a self-reflective way of learning. In this post, I will talk about 10 things I’ve learned from travelling and how they have had an effect on my thinking now.

Hopefully you’ll get a little bit of inspiration and see that travelling is about way more than just racking up air miles and crossing off destinations on the map. I always like to do a reflective post once every now and again to arrange my headspace full of little travel post-its!

Learning a new language (1)

Going to a different country also means hearing and learning a new language. At first it is difficult to pick up the basics, especially as new tones and sounds shape different languages words. Some dialects are very hard to replicate if you’re not a native. But if you are surrounded by the language, fully immersed in it and spend enough time there; you can learn a new language much easier than if you were trying to from home. There have been many cases were I have been thrown into a new environment; where I have had to learn the local language.

When volunteering in Nepal I had to pick up a lot of Nepalese for a good few months. Whilst staying in Ghana for 8 months I also had to learn a lot of the local language, Twi. At first it is frustrating because you want to be able to communicate but can’t even say a basic sentence. But with a little time, practice and getting incredibly good at charades you can start to have conversations in a whole new language! I have loved the times where I have had to pick up a new language, it is always a great challenge and an even better way to connect with the locals.

Tasted new foods (2)

Another learning opportunity is sampling the local delicacies to the country your travelling in. Let’s face it, who doesn’t love food: even better excuse to indulge in all the dishes whilst you’re there! Learning to try new foods is part of the experience of seeing a new place. Food makes up so much of the identity of a country, so you can learn a lot just by tasting the dishes. I’ve had the pleasure of having a few home stays whilst travelling; which provided me with an authentic root straight to the heart of local cuisine!

Eating Dal Bhat home cooked and then sitting to eat with a local family is such a truly authentic experience. I’ve not only tasted the foods, but also eaten locally – by which I mean tried eating without a knife and fork! Some places I have lived in use hands or flatbreads as scoops to eat with – it has all added to learning about the whole of the countries culture. Another food related lesson has been learning to cook the local foods. I’ve loved being able to learn how to make momos (a kind of nepali dumpling filled with vegetables & meat) or my new favourite red-red, click here to learn how!

Community (3)

This word has taken on a whole new meaning and level of understanding that I didn’t have before I started to travel. The places or communities I have been have shown me that a community look out for one another, support and trust each other. At home you would never dream of saying hello to another random person walking down the street, but when you think about it, it is more strange if you ignore another human being. Travelling and living in some of the countries I have been to has taught me this. It has helped me to be more caring and to care about my own community.

Immersed In Culture (4)

Everywhere has its own identity and we call it culture. Travelling has enabled me to learn about more cultures that are completely different to my own. Since doing this it has helped me to learn new ways of doing things, wether it is cooking new dishes, interacting with different people or inspired new ideas for work. Travelling helps you to expand your thinking and learn a new way of doing things, because the world is such a diverse place. Don’t restrict yourself to your own surroundings.

Being more independent (5)

Travelling, especially travelling solo, has helped me to become so much more independent. I’ve learnt to book, organise and support myself whilst on the move in a different surrounding. At first it was daunting, the first time I was in an airport on my own I nearly freaked out, but you learn to be able to adapt and go with it. Independence is something not to be overlooked, because it is one of the sole drivers that enables me to keep doing it. If I didn’t feel confident or independent enough to be able to just go and travel; then I would never go very far or cope very well. Learning this independence whilst travelling has helped me in all aspects of life.

As someone who had always been more introverted, shy and anxious – travelling allowed me to learn to overcome and develop these attributes. Being more independent and as a result :confident; has probably been the biggest benefit of travelling for me than anything.

Organisation & Determination (6)

This leads on from my previous point, learning to be organised is something that has been enhanced whilst travelling. Making sure you are at places certain times for flights and having the skill to be able to plan whilst on the move has made me even more organised.

Determination: I’ve learnt that if you want something, prioritise it. Be determined with what you want to achieve. I am even more determined to travel than before I started travelling because I have realised I want to make this a lifestyle and not a one-off trip.

The world is a big, big place (7)

It may sound silly, but the World, Earth, life; is so much bigger than your home or country. But you only really get to understand this when you start travelling to further places and experiencing new things. The world is big, but once you start to explore, it seems a lot more possible to be able to keep exploring, than before.

‘Travelling is like a book, those who do not, only read the first chapter’

You’ll never truly be alone (8)

As cheesy as this may first sound, it’s 100% true. If you decide you can’t go travelling or explore other countries because you have no one to go with, think again. Travelling solo is daunting but there are so many people doing the exact same thing. You are bound to bump into people along the way and then it is only you deciding wether you want to connect with them, have a conversation or spend it on your own.

And Spending it on your own at times isn’t a bad thing either, it allows you to have room for self-reflection and development that is important in learning more about yourself or the country. But I can honestly say that spending a year travelling ‘solo‘ saw me have only a handful of days where I had some time to relax. So I welcomed those chances to be able to be on my own and listen.

A sense of adventure! (9)

Travelling, understandably has made my wanderlust & adventure seeking increase! I’ve learnt that there are so many more things I want to see, do, taste, experience and learn! I’ve learnt to be more curious and to try and learn at every opportunity. This has made me more assertive and inquisitive because when I’m in a country I want to leave feeling like I absorbed as much of the countries history and culture as possible.

I’ve also learnt to not always play it safe (I’m not saying be stupid) but to go off the beaten track, avoid the touristy hotspots and to ask questions you don’t know the answers to! You never know where something could lead or a connection you could make.

Always be sensible (well if you can afford to be a little loose with this then it is more fun) but there have been so many times where I have had such great experiences that I would never have had, if I didn’t have a sense of adventure. Travelling with a local friend I’d made to his local village for a wedding in India was amazing or travelling on top of a local nepali bus with livestock around narrow cliff edges – sounds dramatic – but so cool! Wouldn’t be memories I now have if I hadn’t learnt to ‘live a little‘ or ‘be in the moment‘.

Don’t always play it safe. But don’t be stupid!

Positivity & Appreciation (10)

A great way to end is to say that having been immersed in so many diverse and interesting countries’/ cultures; I have learnt the power of positivity and a whole new appreciation for my own life. From all of the aspects I have talked about you can learn to be more positive and appreciative.

When you are in a fortunate enough position to be able to experience and learn about all these amazing places how can you not be! I’ve also learnt to be more mindful and present in my own life. Not to rush, to stop and be thankful. I’ve learnt to meditate and develop more inner peace which before I started travelling I would never even of considered – now I realise how beneficial and important it is. There has been so much inspiration I have taken away from the places, people and countries I have visited which have all had a positive impact on my life.

#PositiveVibes always ✌️

Here are a few things I have discovered that have helped in creating a more positive mindset in this digital world:

Paths to Happiness: 50 Ways to Add Joy to Your Life Every Day

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living

CalmCalm App

Positive News Twitter

Sunny Skyz

Action For Happiness

That’s it! I hope you’ve enjoyed the 10 things I’ve learned from travelling; feel a little more inspired to go out & learn some new things for yourself!

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Travel. Create, Be Nice!

10 things i've learned from travelling

How To Get The Most Out Of A Volunteering Trip

How To Get The Most Out Of A Volunteering Trip

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Hello and welcome to 2016! I love the new year as its a chance to make a fresh start and plan loads of new stuff! There is a lot coming up this year in this blog so stay tuned for more adventures and travel stories. For now here’s my Top Tips on ‘How To Get The Most Out Of A Volunteering Trip!’ Why not do something great this year and give something back, Enjoy!

Volunteering is one of the best ways you can get the opportunity to interact with locals and help make a positive impact on your travels. Once you’ve got your destination and project it’s time to get prepared for your life changing trip! If you haven’t chosen yet then read my review of my experience with IVHQ for some inspiration! I’ll give my advice on how best to prepare for it and what to expect to gain from embarking on a volunteering project.

Pre-Departure

  1. Before you go research. Research everything you can find through blog posts, articles, videos and reviews of the place your staying at and what it has to offer along with all the possible problem areas to look out for.
  2. Get your visas sorted! It’s something that is often overlooked in the planning process but it is a vital part to be able to enter the country: find out where you need one for, for how long, the price, how long it takes to get approved approx. before you go, wether you’ll need to renew it if your staying longer than the ‘normal’ amount of time ( for example visas for Australia are free to apply for online as a tourist for up to a month, after that you’ll need to renew it or get a different visa category) 
  3. Check what/if you need vaccinations for the place your staying at, a great resource is fitfortravel also make an appointment to see your local travel nurse to make sure your covered.
  4. Collect all contact numbers for in country support and out of country support. i.e. support officer, government, host-family, immigration office, airport, taxis, family. 
  5. Get your travel insurance sorted. I would definitely recommend getting some cover especially if your heading to more rural, high risk areas. Also if your planning on taking valuables such as cameras/laptops then get them covered just in case! 
  6. Try and find out if the host-family/project your involved need any resources that you could take out with you to help. 
  7. Look into setting up a fundraising page for your trip – also look at doing some sponsored races, events or collections to help raise some money for your chosen project. I use www.gofundme.com 
  8. Make at least 4 copies of all your documents (passport, money cards, project info, visas, vaccinations, contacts, travel insurance) Give a copy to someone at home, keep one copy in your bag, give another copy to a program coordinator if you have one. This is a great way to make sure you always have someone with a back up of all your important info if anything happens. Its also a good idea to create a new folder in your email account and store all this digitally as well so you can access it via a computer if needs be or you need to email a document. 
  9. Change a small amount ( enough for a couple of nights stay in a hotel/food) into the destinations currency just in case your unable to get your money travel card up and running straight away – tip. check this works before you even leave for the airport in an atm in your own country so you can check everything in order. 
  10. Give your parents/guradian a list of all possible numbers/ emails they may need whilst your away or in case of emergency 
  11. Check social media for any links to your chosen project and see if there is anyway you can make contact with any other volunteers before you go. It’ll help you introduce yourself before you have even left and probably calm your nerves or get you more excited about your chosen project! Social media is such a powerful tool these days which you can take full advantage of before you trip! 
  12. Find out the basic phrases and vocabulary in the local language ( hello, goodbye, please, thank you) before you go to give yourself a head start in greeting and interacting with locals – tip learning the numbers 1-10 is also quite useful!! 

Now all the important stuff is planned and sorted, you can focus on packing!

13. Pack what clothes you want to take. Now unpack it and take half of them out, you won’t need that much! If you get stuck whilst your out there, you can usually pick up a few new t-shirts cheap or just hand wash them!

14. Include practical items such as a hand torch, head torch, batteries, swiss army knife (multitool), plastic bags, padlocks, universal plug adapter.tip take a throw away camera, no need for charging and great fun as a surprise to wait and see what the snaps look like when you come back!

15. Pack some medication i.e. paracetamol, ibuprofen, dehydration tablets, water-purifying tablets, insect repellent.

Once you bag is packed your ready to take to the airport!

Fast-forward the nervous, excited and sleepless flight to your volunteering project.

It’s overwhelming, especially if this is your first experience abroad or in a developing country. Just remember your here for a short amount of time and you will be heading home so make the most of the time you have. Take in as much as possible from the sights, smells, people, lifestyle, language and culture. Be open and accepting that you’re in a different country with different values/views to your own. They may not be what you are used but be respectful and embrace it.

Be Open

Be Respectful

Throw Yourself Into It!

Enjoy your experience of a lifetime and thanks to your well planned pre-departure you know everything is in place, so your able to just enjoy it and help out! Make sure you write down and take loads of photographs to remember your trip by!

Lastly my biggest tip for getting the most out of your volunteering experience or any experience is to just open yourself to it fully. Embrace every opportunity to learn and discover something your not used to, everything that challenges you helps you to grow.

Happy travels!

If you’d like to see what A Day in the Life of a Volunteer is like or Teaching in Kenya then check out my experiences!

If you’d like to keep up with my adventures and get social;

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Travel. Create, Be Nice!