I am writing this from my hotel room in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia while it’s pouring outside. I would have updated a little earlier but I’ve had no energy, nor time or resources. I splurged on an iPad air in Dubai and since there’s nothing much to do in Malaysia and my travel mate is sleeping, a blog post sounded attractive.
Then came the question on what to write about. Instead of going into details about my travels thus far I thought I’d do a general travel post. This gives me time later on to do a more in-depth review of each place, including photos!
When you hear that someone is going travelling, your first reaction is always a positive one. What could be so terrible about getting up in the morning ,visiting some incredible sites, going to bed and waking up to do the same thing over and over again but in different places, cities or even countries. Nothing! It sounds like heaven. But, there are some things that travelling teaches you that are not exactly highlighted when you converse with someone about their travels. I’ve always associated very positive connotations with the word “travel”. So much so that I wasn’t prepared for things when they happened and was rather shocked by them. Perhaps these are silly things that people already knew and I was oblivious to but nonetheless they’re worth knowing. So here are a few of my learnings.
You’re entering into a relationship
When you decide you want to travel with someone – STOP. Stop and think about it, think about it for a half hour then go back to what you were doing. Then revisit the idea a week later and then another week later and if at the end of the month you know that you want to travel with this person, then and only then go ahead and book the tickets. Consider the fact that you will be living in each other’s pockets 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, multiplied by however many weeks you’re planning the trip for. Now think if you can handle their personality, is there things in common to talk about or the fact that you’re both ‘free’ and ‘have the money’ and are ‘friends’ the only factors. Last but not least look into each other’s habits. For example, if someone takes an hour to put on makeup and that’s going to bother you then that may be a problem. Or, if someone can’t stand living in hostels and you’ve booked a hostel that could be another problem! Because if it is re-think if it’s worth it. You’re entering into a full blown relationship which will either go burning down or be life lasting!
You’re on your own and you know what you know. (Dr.Seuss was right!)
You’re in a continent where you don’t know anyone but the person you’re travelling with. And who does the person you’re travelling with care about? Them-self. Harsh? Maybe, true? Definitely! You’re there for yourself so make sure you look after yourself. Compromise when you need to but for things that are important to you – put yourself first. This includes going to an attraction you really wanted to see but the other traveller doesn’t want to go. Find your way there! Who knows if you’ll be back! Look up the directions, make sure you take a safe route and go out there and take on the world! It’s so much more exciting, adventurous and fun!
You learn to be patient.
I have thus far been on eight flights, eight train rides, and numerous metro journeys. What all these things have in common is that you are not in control of any aspect of them. This means even if you get to the airport three hours prior to departure there will always be a delay with the boarding of your flight. It also means long waiting periods where you’re stuffed between 20 other people during rush hour and when you try to push past and get out, the metro door shuts on you. What do you do to pass the time ? Moaning is no longer an option because your travel partner is just that – your travel partner – you’re one your own! This was quite tough for me in the beginning because I’m quite the chatterbox but a few days on the road and I realised my iPod is my best friend and if you don’t have that, observe. Observe your surroundings – the people and how they interact with each other. It’s different in every country, the manner of speaking varies from country to country. For example, Italians are very very loud and when they talk they sound as if they’re yelling at each other when really they’re being very pleasant. In contrast to this, the Britishers tend to be very proper with each other.
Take the essentials
For me I found a few certain items which are just absolutes while you’re travelling. This includes a neck pillow, eye mask, woollen socks, ear plugs, sleeping pulls, panadol, electrolyte formula, hand sanitiser, hand moisturiser, chapstick, headphones. Some of these may seem silly but let me explain. The neck pillow is the best invention for the modern traveller, I didn’t even know how useful they were until I bought one for the sake Of this trip. Invest in a microbead one as it’s more comfortable. I had a reversible one which turned into a pillow so it was always handy! To carry it around just attach it to your lock on your luggage. A lot of airlines no longer provide you with eye masks and ear plugs – these are particularly helpful when trying to sleep on a plane where someone has their reading light on or in a noisy hotel room. The woollen socks are more for me as I get cold feet especially on the plane and I’m sick of suffering! The sleeping pills are for the days where you’re exhausted but can’t sleep due to some silly reason. The electrolyte formula is in case you get dehydration – I took it once a week just to be on the safe side. The hand sanitiser is perfect for before and after meals, dealing with money is the dirtiest thing for our hands so it’s essential to sanitise! While you’re travelling you will tend to get dry hands so make sure to have a hand cream handy (the Neutrogena one works a charm!). Also a Chapstick is a must because airplane air gives you a windburn so make sure you have this in your handbag. The last thing on the list is headphones which may sound odd but are really useful especially if you’re going to Europe. A lot of the attractions there have audio guides which you have to place to your ear as if you’re talking on the phone. This is particularly frustrating because your arms start to hurt and you can’t take any pictures. So having a pair of headphones to put into the little machine saves a lot of hassle. Oh and no need to bring a water bottle – water is very cheap in the US, Europe and Asia.
Family is the most important thing
You don’t appreciate what you have until it’s not there anymore. I was so busy thinking my family will miss me that I never thought how much I would miss them! They’re my rocks and I can say that I’ve only made it through this trip because of their continued guidance along every step.
Book smart doesn’t always translate well into the real world
This is probably the best lesson I have learnt on this trip thus far. I have always been someone who respected a well-educated person. However, travelling with someone who is very much that I got to see that it does not mean much in the real world. You need to be confident, focused and street smart when you’re travelling. Knowing how to write an A+ essay will not get you from point A to B. Being able to approach random people and start a friendly conversation with the aim of asking for directions will! I am not the most street smart person but this trip has definitely made me become so and also realise that I have been giving my respect to the wrong sorts of people. It is the combination of book and street smart which will make you successful in life, being good at one and clueless about the other will not only leave you behind but frustrate the person you’re travelling with.
So there you go – a condensed version of my learnings on this trip. This may give the impression my trip is horrible but it’s fantastically life changing. I’ve learnt more about life in the past month than my whole 22 years of existence. Being able to experience some amazing places and learning about history in different parts of the worlds(which I adored doing) as well as having life lessons and souvenirs to take home – this trip couldn’t be anymore life altering!!