Travel’s Classroom – Lessons Learnt – Part 1
I can’t quite believe that we have come to the end of our first month on the road; without our jobs and without a house; just me, him and Scoobie the Motorhome – and we couldn’t be happier.
Having been in the personal development industry for 25 years, I’m well versed in the art of self-discovery, although this didn’t prepare me for the lessons I have learnt, attending Travel’s classroom. Here are just some of the insights that have struck me in our first 4 weeks. Imagine what the next 11 months will teach me.
1. The ‘Should and Ought to’ Trap
It’s easy to fall into the trap of creating habits shaped around what you believe you ought or should do, whilst travelling. These habits seem appropriate, perhaps because we’ve done them before on other trips or may be because we need their safety to make us feel ‘at home’.
One of my habits was doing a daily journal, although I realised that it was adding no special value to my life whatsoever. It was creating an expectation that wasn’t fulfilling anyone, least of all me. So I stopped. Now I use my journal for recording my insights, lessons and joyful moments and it feels so much better.
My lesson – Do more of what is meaningful not what is habitual.
2. Escaping is futile
We work hard for the day when our holiday, adventure or world tour starts and we throw ourselves into the sheer escapism of that moment, enjoying the freedom it gives us. For a moment it’s as is if that world never even existed. And then, out of the blue, something from The Matrix that we thought we’d left behind, crops up to destroy our Utopian experience. It lurks in the darkness, ready to pounce when you least expect it. Perhaps it’s an email, a text or phone call that immediately drags you back into that world that you thought you’d been able to walk away from.
Yet the stark reality is that even though The Matrix feels like it may be stalking you, it’s not and there is no escaping that part of your world. It still exists even though you choose to disengage with it. You may well be removed from it for a period of time, although like a clock, that looks simple enough on face value, the mechanism behind it is still whirling away. You just need to understand The Matrix exists and uncover how it looks in your newly created, nomadic world and work with it or around it.
My lesson; Let go and accept that The Matrix still exists and I need to work with it from time to time, as to fight it futile.
3. Choosing a nomadic life means being a tourist from time-to- time
Choosing to be a nomad, for however long that might be, is a big decision. It’s a huge life-changing event that turns your world upside down. Adjusting to this takes time – there’s no rule book that says how long – it just takes time. So it is inevitable that you will experience a whole range of emotions. For us, a month in, it still feels like the reality of this nomadic life hasn’t really hit us. We still feel a bit like tourists, hopping from one town to another, rather than rooting ourselves somewhere. I think the conclusion that we’ve come to is, that this is ok. In fact everything is ok. Travelling is about having experiences; sometimes – thrilling ones, sometimes – tourist ones and sometimes – very normal ones. And there will, undoubtedly, be some difficult ones to navigate too. Although being a tourist isn’t a bad thing, it’s about embracing life just the way it is, without judgement or expectation.
My lesson; Avoid forcing anything and just let life flow. The more I push, the more life becomes like it was ‘back home’.
4. The world is diverse – embrace it all
We are more country than city types. We love fresh air, being outdoors and being in the middle of Mother Nature. Although we’ve realised that travel experiences are so much more than staying within your comfort zone. There is so much more to be appreciated and learnt about. This comfort zone is rarely where the insights come. Yet I feel the most authentic when I’m in the wilds rather than within the walls. So I find that being able to step into this less comfortable place and take in all that it offers me, is vital to my travelling journey. One such example was Seville. Neither of us really felt inspired to visit the city, although we knew we must as people told us how beautiful it was. And within just a few minutes, Seville had captured our hearts, minds and soul. So imagine if we’d have missed it because of our dislike of cities.
My lesson; Be prepared to open your mind and heart to every experience. Give every type of travelling experience your time and attention as they have their own unique story to share and they may just surprise you.
5. Not every day needs a plan – go with the flow sometimes
I come from a background where everything needed a plan. In fact I’m sure it is more intrinsic than that. I think I needed a plan to give me a sense of certainty and security. Knowing what was coming up and knowing that I was prepared for it made me feel safe.
Over the years, as I left the corporate world, I have learnt to let go of agendas and action plans, although I recognise that I take a little of this shadow with me as a traveller. This has been a really important lesson over the last month, allowing each day have a little bit of its own magic. We do have a rough plan, as there are events coming up in the next month that we need to cater for, although that’s the bigger picture. On a day to day basis, allowing things to evolve, just a little, is the mystery of our European tour.
My lesson; Everything in the world is shifting just a little – remember that so too will your nomadic travel. Give it space to evolve as it is meant to and your experience will be all the more enriched.
6. Travelling is not an escape – it’s simply a different way of living
Whilst you may pack furniture and possessions into storage, leave your job and sell up your house – you know what? You still take YOU with you. You may escape some aspects of your life, although the one thing you can’t get away from is YOU. It’s bizarre, the very things that you wish to leave behind, perversely you take with you, in your beliefs, attitudes and habits. Situations you face on the road are handled in the same way that you would at home – the circumstances might be different, although your reactions to them will be very similar.
The real trick is to enter into travel with a new mindset; it is about an inner journey, not a just a physical one. When you learn about your values, beliefs and the things that influence how you see the world, then you become clearer about what brings your life joy and conflict. From this point you can then begin to change what is no longer working and begin your real bid for freedom.
My lesson; Being nomadic is not an escape, it is simply a different way of living and when you can master the real conduit to your happiness – YOU, then freedom becomes more than a backpack or a Motorhome, it becomes something that flourishes from within. You can then truly embrace every moment of your travelling experiences, moment by moment.
7. Travel mindfully not mind fully
Life and the treasures that the world has to share are not held only in the cathedrals, the Bullrings or the sunset and white, sandy beaches. The world has so many more profound experiences to offer us, if we can just open ourselves up to them. It’s all too easy to take a busy, worried or fearful mind with us, that mar our experience of life. Will we be safe, will everything go according to plan, what if something happens that we hadn’t thought of?
Whist these may well be normal things to worry about, they are delusions of a fearful and insecure mind. If we can let these thoughts go and concentrate in the moment and relish every single experience and sensation, then the happiness we feel is second to none – in that moment. We need to enter life with our whole being and not just our ego, otherwise we will miss some of the magic.
My lesson; See don’t look, listen don’t just hear, feel and touch everything around you and you will experience travel in its truest, rarest form. Allow the mind full to empty in this moment and appreciate what you have in front of you – right now. It’s precious.
With these lessons, I enter into our second month, wiser, clearer, happier and more present. I know there will be more lessons from Travel’s Classroom in the coming month, although for now, these make my life richer.