What I've learnt from a life on the road

February 03, 2014

It’s been almost 5 months now since I’ve left London. I’ve been to Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and most recently Taiwan. I’ve got kind of stuck in Taiwan for the last 3 months whilst trying to improve my Mandarin and generally having a great time. I’ve just arrived in Malaysia again to celebrate the new year and will be here for another 2 weeks before going to Singapore and then back to Taiwan. I’ve realised in my time in Taiwan that I don’t want my time to be finite so I’m currently in the process of rebuilding my portfolio and looking for freelance jobs. That post was last week and this week I want to share what I’ve learnt since I started travelling.

You will have ups and downs

Travelling alone will mean at some point you will start to feel lonely. Being a traveller means that you don’t have your close friends around you and when things start to not go your way, you will begin to wish they were there. It makes the downs feel worse. But you begin to rely on yourself a lot more and be open to help from strangers. The ups are also great. You feel independent, you feel like you’re growing all the time. Experiencing difference cultures, languages, people and food, you genuinely feel like you’re living life.

It’s okay to be alone

Learning to be alone has been a tough lesson. Even if you make good friends as a traveller most of the time they will be busy during the day. As a traveller you will usually be free whilst they are working, so you will usually be spending a lot of time on your own. I’ve realised the times when I learn the most things is when I have this time alone to self reflect. It’s calming, refreshing and allows me to focus on me rather than anyone else.

Being alone allows you to be more open

Since I started travelling alone, I’ve done a lot of things that I wouldn’t have done if I was travelling to other people. In Taiwan I’ve made a new family that I never would have had if I had made plans with other people. I decided to couch surf in Taiwan and instead I stayed at their place for the last 3 months and it’s really been one of the best things that’s happens since I started this trip. Being alone allows you to be flexible, it also allows you to really ask yourself what you want. When you’re travelling with other people the decision to go certain places and certain times becomes a decision of majority or the one with the loudest voice.

Not making plans is the best way to encounter serendipity

By not making any concrete plans I’ve opened up myself to serendipity on several occasions on this trip. I feel making loose plans whilst travelling without a strict time budget is one of the best ways to experience a country. You can play things by ear and focus your time on the things you enjoy the most. I think one of the best things that happens when you travel is meeting the locals and new friends. And how are you supposed to make plans with friends you haven’t met yet? You can’t. And that’s why sometimes not making plans is the best plan to have.

You can still have a routine when you travel

One of the things I realised after the first month of travelling is that I started to get lazy. If you’re only travelling for a week or two, this probably isn’t a problem, but when it’s indefinite, it starts to affect your life. I was sleeping for too long, not exercising and not really moving forward. After I realised that I started to write this blog to reflect on my life more. This self reflection every week allowed me to create other habits such as exercising, putting learning Chinese back into my routine. Rituals and routines are important even when travelling and it’s important to take care of yourself by having a decent routine that ensures you are healthy and are pushing yourself to improve everyday.

You don’t need a stable location to work

There are a fair few jobs you can do from a remote location. The top two seem to be a web related job, such as a designer or developer and the other is freelance translation. I do the former and I believe it’s one of the best location independent jobs on the planet. Especially because remote working relies on the web. However there are other ways to make money whilst travelling and one of the best ways is teaching. Teaching from anywhere is now possible with the internet. There are plenty of people looking for language teachers in various countries. Recently I’ve been teaching web design and development to a couple of close friends, and it got me thinking that there definitely is demand for tutors on various subjects. The best part about teaching is that it is also subject independent. Anything that you have learnt, you can teach. And with the internet you can teach anywhere.

The main point is, travelling doesn’t have to be once a year or even twice a year. It can be a lifestyle.

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Distilling the complicated into the simple. And sometimes general wonderings. Follow me on twitter