5 Lessons Traveling Taught Me

Lesson 1: Liberate yourself

Life can become so easy when we finally liberate ourselves from the social pressure, from the ‘shoulds’ that decide what we do in our lives.

From basics such as having a party because it’s Friday night, to chilling because it’s the weekend, to acting or speaking in a way which is considered ‘ideal’, behaving a certain way in front of certain people, dressing a certain way which is considered ‘apt’ by the society to so many other things that the ‘shoulds’ make us do. To be honest, the list is endless.

What the sad part is that even people who are trying to do all the things that they apparently ‘should’ do, even they are not happy, nor is the society or other people ever really happy with them, because at the end of the day how many people’s ‘shoulds’ can you really fulfill? How many people can you really satisfy?

So, why not satisfy just one? Yourself. Why not shoo away all the ‘shoulds’, liberate yourself, and just do whatever makes you happy, whatever you think is right, or simply whatever you want to do, whatever your heart desires.

It can be simply about following your passion, or even not following it; it can be about being friends with certain people, or simply not being friends with certain people; it can be about dressing however you want, speaking, eating, doing whatever you like or simply just sleeping at 9 pm or even 5 am because you want to. There doesn’t have to be a ‘should’ to whatever you do. Do what you really want to do, and trust me everything else will automatically fall into place. You will be way happier, and YOU WILL FINALLY BE LIBERATED!

Lesson 2: Cry wholeheartedly to Smile wholeheartedly

How many of us have heard the words ‘Don’t cry’, ‘Crying makes you look weak’, ‘You shouldn’t be crying’ in our lives? Even our closest friends and family members tell us to hide our emotions especially when it comes to crying! But has anyone ever told you ‘Don’t laugh’, ‘Don’t smile’ has anyone ever asked you ‘Why are you smiling?’, or told you that you shouldn’t be smiling?

My favorite Dr Jehangir Khan (Dear Zindagi) said ‘Jab tak tum khul ke roge nahi, tab tak tum khulke hasoge kaise?’ (Till you don’t cry wholeheartedly, how will you laugh wholeheartedly?)

Traveling made me realize this. It made me open up to my traumas, accept them, and release them so that I can be fully and completely happy again.

Life is not perfect. It can never be. But it certainly is different now, and so much better. Now, I shout, cry, express, and write whatever I feel without even an inch of hesitation. I don’t think twice before crying, just like I don’t think twice before laughing no matter where I am, how many people are present, or what the situation is.

I laugh wholeheartedly now when I am happy because I cry wholeheartedly too when I am sad, and I don’t think that makes me weak at all, rather I think it makes me strong, really strong. I feel strong that I can express my emotions without thinking twice, I feel strong I do not feel the need to hide my emotions, I feel strong because I accept my emotions.

And, if you feel you want to express but don’t know who would really understand, or need a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to listen, I am here, feel free to reach out.

Lesson 3: Live for the small moments

On the bad days, in my testing phases, sometimes I wonder if this is it? If I am going to be this sad, dealing with things that seem out of control, feeling that everything is haywire and my mind is cluttered with dozens of problems at the same time, then what is the point?

But traveling taught me life is not just about your five-year plans and long-term perspective, it is also about being in the present and living for the small moments. Those moments might be atomic but they make you feel majestical. Those small, maybe even brief moments that make you forget about everything else in life, that make your thoughts break apart from all the problems and bring you to them, in the present. Those small, beautiful moments where you are so lost, that you never want to be found again.

The sunrise and sunsets, the gush of the waves, the feeling while hiking, diving into harsh cold water, kissing someone you love, being underwater, jumping from a cliff, it can be anything. Hold those moments close. Those small moments are what life is all about, and not just those life-changing moments that we so eagerly wait for.

Lesson 4: Be yourself unapologetically

It is very easy to be yourself while traveling when you have no external factors affecting you, when there is no work or worry, especially in a group of strangers who know nothing about you and who you are likely to not even meet afterward. But what is equally important is to be yourself when you are back home, with your family, your friends and especially when you are just by yourself, all alone.

While being my best version, my authentic self, came out very easily when traveling; back home, it was different. If I was full Bunny while traveling, I was full Naina back at home, and I think somewhere deep inside because of this reason, initially when I started traveling, the strangers I met while traveling, I never really stayed in touch with them afterward, because I think somewhere I felt they wouldn’t really recognize me when I am not traveling; the ambitious, fighter girl instead of the fun, crazy, reckless one that they knew.

But as I started traveling more and more, I realized how stupid I was. As, more and more of my travel friends started becoming an ingrained part of my life, started becoming my closest of friends, I realized what I was missing out on, by not giving anyone in my life the opportunity of fully knowing myself, by even denying myself the opportunity to know and accept fully, unconditionally and unapologetically who I was. 

Well, it wasn’t easy, while sometimes people I met while traveling would think I am reserved, people back home would say I am too open, and in that struggle to balance out, I was losing myself. So, one fine day, I just decided to stop this stupidity and be myself, fully and apologetically, and life has been so amazing since then.

Even though it is still a work in progress, but I can tell you if I was 10% myself before I started traveling 3 years back, I am at least 80% myself now. And even though it’s just relative, that’s a growth of 700% in just 3 years of my life. 

I have found myself in ways I never thought was possible, and more than anything else I am learning to be myself unapologetically, and not just in front of strangers anymore, but back home with my own family and friends too.

Lesson 5: Trust the Universe

When people especially girls ask me how can I solo travel in a country like India, or travel so freely without any fear, this is what I tell them, ‘I trust the Universe’.

Well, as filmy as it sounds, it is actually coming from a lot of real-life experiences. Of course, trusting the universe doesn’t mean going all reckless and not taking your own responsibility. It just means trusting at least something out there; the people, yourself, your destiny, it can be anything. I have had dozens and dozens of experiences where people I have met on trips, or locals and strangers around me have helped me so much without even asking. I am not saying bad incidents haven’t happened, yes, they have. Once or twice, I have been in not-so-good situations too, but that doesn’t shake my confidence thanks to the numerous good ones that have happened too.

Every time I am scared, uncomfortable, or even for a slight moment question my situation, the universe throws some sign or some beautiful soul across my way to help me out. I can quote here dozens and dozens of examples, and I would like to share just one at random.

I went for a staycation in Jibhi, and while coming back I had my pick-up point of the bus at 9 pm at an ATM situated in the middle of nowhere. I reached around 8:45 pm and checked the tracker to realize the bus is running at least an hour late. There was no other passenger at the point, there were no street lights on the road, and all the shops closed at max between 8 to 9 pm there, so there were hardly any people on the road. 

To be honest, I was a little scared. This was an impromptu trip, my departure was also pretty impromptu, no one really knew about the bus or the timings, I was two hours away from the hostel I was staying at, the dogs were barking like anything, and even though I had traveled so much solo already, for some reason I was just not feeling very comfortable. 

Around 9 pm, this uncle (shop owner of the shop right beside the ATM) was just closing the shutter down to his shop. Noticing me standing there for 15 minutes, he and his wife approached me and asked me what bus I was boarding, when was it coming, and other such details. When I told them the bus was running at least an hour late, they reopened the shutter to their shop and asked me to sit inside and told me that they will wait till it comes. I told them multiple times that there is no need for that, but they just refused to listen. They said, and I quote ‘Even though the area is safe, it is pretty dark and I am like their daughter, and they can’t really leave their daughter out in the dark all alone, can they.’

This is just one of those hundred such incidents that have happened with me while traveling and each one of them has left me either teary-eyed or in total awe of the kind of people I end up meeting while traveling. I know that bad incidents too happen from time to time, so those days when I feel like I can’t trust people, I trust the Universe, and I don’t let one bad incident fade away the hundred good ones that have happened.

This took a lot of resilience, to be honest, and guts to say this living in a country like India. But, this is what traveling taught me, Trust the Universe, and see the magic unfold.

These lessons come out from whatever little experience I have had while traveling for past 3 years. Hope they were helpful. Feel free to drop your views in the comments below. See you next week!

Hi! I’m Kajal and I love to travel. Follow along as I travel around the globe and share my favorite places.

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