Life Lessons in Travel

Annemarie is a passionate traveler and storyteller, capturing her adventures on her blog and social media channels to inspire others to head out into the big wide world to find and chase their passions. We caught up with her to ask for her advice for others looking to do the same. Here’s what she had to say: 

When I tell people I had been on the road all by myself, exploring six countries on three continents for one year and three days, people are usually very much in awe. It’s true, traveling for a long period of time requires perseverance, a certain level of bravery and a skill set that includes budget management, flexibility and adaptation.

That might sound a tad conceited, which might be true. But what I learned from long-term travel was that I became better at all these skills in other parts of my life as well. And travel taught me to take my own journey. I realized that no matter how long I was wandering, what people said to me, or who I talked to along the way, this was the ultimate journey in finding myself. Here’s how you can do the same.

Discover why you want to travel.

Annemarie on a hike.
Annemarie on a hike.

Figuring out the reasons you want to go and explore the world is a good start. Not only will you be asked time and again by family, friends and strangers, but it is something you need to work out with yourself. Are you running away from something? Are you following an urge in yourself and feel your heart is set on new experiences? Do you want to challenge yourself, practice a language, learn about other cultures? Or do you just want to party and have a fun backpacker life?

There is nothing wrong with any of these options, but in order to prevent potential feelings of guilt, keep your ultimate goal in mind. It’s your goal, and nobody else’s. (And maybe, just maybe, reconsider that very last goal of partying and think about what you might want out of life later on; something that will be life-fulfilling.)

Do some basic planning, at least.

Regardless of your type of travel or level of flexibility, a little research and preparation is crucial. Yes, even if you go to safe and well paved backpacker countries, such as Australia and Thailand, knowing a little bit about cultural differences, cost of living or at the very least visa requirements is crucial. You don’t want to appear the greatest twat that ever traveled and stepped on everybody’s toes or is simply sent back in shame. In some countries an accidental offense can even land you in jail.

Each country is different and you might not yet know where your journey will lead you to but knowing where you are allowed to go with your passport, where travel is currently not strongly advised and how to speak basic phrases will help tremendously. Oh, and so is packing the right kind of clothes and how to store them. (Never fold, always roll. And ditch unnecessary things.) And once you’ve got the basics sorted (finances, regulations, luggage), you can look at other parts (itinerary, travel style, etc) or not, it entirely depends on you.

Become your own boss

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Ultimately, the choice is yours. While traveling, as in life, some decisions might not seem very sound in retrospect. But whatever you experience, good or bad, is part of the journey; it’s part of the learning process and part of falling more into who you are and who you want to become. The beauty of travel is that you make the decisions. Your decisions are what keep you on the road. Absolutely no one can tell you where to go and what to do (except maybe police and officials). It is up to you to consult others, to share experiences or to figure it out by yourself. You can theoretically check out a place and leave the next day, or you can stay. You are your own boss and that is both scary and liberating. And it is the best teacher.

What you will learn

Once you are carrying the sole responsibility for all your actions and decisions, you’ll start reflecting on your past. Keep testing your boundaries, and you’ll eventually realize you are actually on a path to yourself. It’s cheesy but true. Traveling will teach you more about your culture and your own self than about foreign countries. At least that was my experience. Travel boosted my confidence in a multitude of ways.

Maybe you’ll find out what your ideal working rhythm is – working in the early mornings, having power naps or spending the night hours writing a novel. Maybe you are working on your self-esteem and will become better at approaching random strangers and engaging in small talk. In the end, it won’t matter what you’ve accomplished, just be proud of yourself.

What are you waiting for? Go out and do some self improvement!

See what Annemarie’s been up to here.