Tuesday, 27 December 2016

10 things I've learnt this year whilst travelling

Well, hasn't 2016 been quite the year? It's certainly been an eventful one, with a couple of pretty big political shit storms thrown in for good measure and whilst it seems like a divisive and hateful rhetoric has won this time round, there are enough amazing, kind and loving people that can, and are turning the tide, right?

Admittedly, whilst politically it's been, in no uncertain terms, shocking, personally, 2016 has been one of the best of my life. I graduated from university with a first, found out I'd done so in Cape Town, where travelling with my BFF began and now seven months later, here I am writing this (with a brand new baby niece) from that very city because, we have a thing you see, me and CT. It's in the early stages and I don't want to jinx anything but, it's getting pretty serious...

Whilst talking to Rosie recently, in one of our countless DMCs we've had around the globe, we spoke about what we've learnt over the last seven and a half months and how actually, we've become much better versions of our selves. Now, I'm not about to write about how my gap yahhhhhhh changed my entire life and I'm going to live on a beach in Bali and only eat grass whilst doing yoga every day and writing a memoir because, you know, if I'm coming home with anything, it's a drinking problem and some holiday weight, but, it does change you, it has too, I suppose.

From saying goodbye to family and friends for a year, being rejected countless times for hospitality jobs in Australia and ending up hating the 'Aussie dream' that so many adore to fleeing Tanzania after less than 48 hours, it hasn't always been perfect but it's safe to say it's been one of the most inspiring, fulfilling, educational and truly incredible things I could ever has chosen to do.

Here are 10 things I've learnt this year whilst travelling...

1. Never let perceptions stop you from visiting a place
Prior to arriving in Johannesburg and Nairobi, I was a tad apprehensive about what they were going to be like and yet now, they are two of my favourite cities we have been too. I'll now never judge a place prior to visiting ever again.

2. Listening is sometimes more valuable than talking
Even if you're speaking to someone with the exact opposite opinions, ideas and views to yourself, it's interesting, and important, to listen and to understand, or at least try to understand, their point of view. What's the point in talking into an echo chamber? It'd be boring if we all thought the same.

3. Always take risks
Isn't it better to take a leap of faith, hope for the best and things turn out better than you could ever have expected rather than play it safe and always wonder 'what if'?

4. Trust people
It might be a scary world out there but the majority people are kind. Trust, especially when you're travelling, that people want to help you with directions, ensure you are okay or literally just chat about how your day is going. Trust their intentions - it's a sorry mind space to be constantly suspicious.

5. Take up space
You deserve to be heard and seen and listened too - take up space in the room, in the bar and hell, especially that dance floor.

6. Smile more!
Often when you smile at people, they smile in return. It makes you feel happier, look happier and you'll look at happier faces in return. So simple.

7. Self confidence isn't defined as arrogance
You can dig the way you look or that new hair style or be particularly proud of that classic line you just threw out to the crowds or be self assured of your point of view in a debate and not have to enter a pit of self loathing at 3am the same night. You can.

8. Red wine is the f**king devil
Why is it always the nights where you decide to have one glass of red wine as a 'nightcap' are the nights where you end up coming home at 7am with a bucket of fried chicken and proceed to believe you are dying for the next two days straight?

9. Travelling doesn't solve life's problems
Wherever you may go in the world, you're still going to meet people who rile you, you will still worry about the most utterly pointless things sometimes and yes, you'll still ask the question 'does my bum look big in this?' (Also, it doesn't.)

10. UK chocolate beats all chocolate, worldwide
It does and if you think doesn't we, unfortunately, cannot be friends.

Okay, now pass me a wine - let's toast to always learning and never being done.

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