Last year, as part of my 25 before 25 birthday bucket list, I set myself the goal of visiting 25 countries before I turned 25.
At that point in time, I had only been to fourteen countries. So, this meant that I would need to travel to another 11 countries within 10 months, as my birthday was in October.
It sounded crazy! I never could have imagined that I could achieve this goal.
But with a lot of determination and hard work, after numerous flights, boat trips, hotel rooms and Airbnbs, I celebrated my 25th birthday in my 25th country–Thailand!
2017 was without a doubt one of the best years of my life so far.
It was a great learning experience and I want to share a few things I learned along the way, in the hopes of inspiring you.
So here are 12 lessons I learned from traveling to 25 countries before 25:
Solo traveling is life changing
There’s just something so amazing about being able to rely entirely on yourself, having total control of your trip and having time alone to really get to know who you are.
I never could’ve imagined that I could travel halfway across the world by myself. But if I had listened to that little voice in my head that told me that I couldn’t do it, then I never would’ve discovered how much I love solo traveling.
I never would’ve gained the confidence and skills that solo traveling has given me.
I never would’ve realized that I am capable of a lot more than I could’ve imagined.
Solo traveling is definitely something that I would recommend that you try at least once.
Fear will stop you from living your best life
It is very likely that your best life experiences are out of your comfort zone. So, if you let fear control your life, you will be missing out on living your best life.
If I had let fear stop me from solo traveling or from going after my goal, I wouldn’t have the amazing memories that I have today.
So, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, go out there, feel that fear and do it anyway!
Go live your best lives! 🙌🏾
Memories over possessions
Yes, I admit it. I am a shopaholic…
As much as I love shopping for cute outfits, fashion is very fickle. What is “fashionable” today, may not be “fashionable” tomorrow.
Memories, however, they last a lifetime.
Travel is stressful!
Yes, the Instagram pictures may be glamorous, but travel isn’t just pretty cocktails and unicorn floats.
Sometimes travel is missed flights, a broken suitcase, being scammed or sleeping in airports.
The best things in life, come with a little (or sometimes a lot) of stress.
Planning is overrated
Yes, planning can be necessary and extremely helpful. However, over-planning and having a jam-packed itinerary can be detrimental to your trip.
If you find yourself running from one tourist attraction to the other, trying to fit as much as possible in one day, you are really doing yourself a disservice.
You are not giving yourself the time to actually take in the sights and enjoy the experience. You are too busy watching the clock because you need to leave for the next spot in five minutes.
I am an advocate of slow travel. You don’t have to fit every single tourist attraction into your trip.
Take your time. Enjoy the city. Get lost. You never know what you may stumble across.
Travel is more than cute pictures for the gram
Who doesn’t love getting a few cute pics for Instagram? I certainly do!
But don’t get so consumed with stunting for the ‘gram that it takes away from your experience.
We all have a story to tell
One of the main reasons we travel is to experience different cultures. A huge part of a country’s culture is their people.
So, talk to the locals. Listen to their stories. Learn from their life lessons.
And when you get back home? Share your travel stories. You never know who you could inspire.
Kindness costs nothing
On my travels, I have met some of the kindest people ever.
On many occasions, I have been approached by strangers who had gone out of their way to give me advice and assistance, so that I could truly experience and enjoy their country. And most of the time, I didn’t even ask for help.
Having lived in London my whole life, I am used to people being too busy rushing to work or home to stop and help someone out. So, these little acts of kindness that I experienced on my travels really touched me.
Kindness literally costs nothing. So, sprinkle that ish like confetti! 🎉
Be open to new experiences
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” James A Michener
This quote is everything!
There is really no point in travelling if you are not open to new experiences.
Travel sometimes requires sacrifice
In order to travel as much as I did last year, I had to make some sacrifices. I put in crazy hours at work and cut down on what I deemed as unnecessary expenditures, e.g. retail shopping, Uber, going out and takeout.
You need to make a decision as to whether travel is a priority for you and what you are willing to sacrifice in order to reach your travel goals.
Travel doesn’t solve everything
Yes, travel is amazing. It is therapeutic. It is life changing.
Once in a while, I like to travel to get away from the hustle and bustle of life in London. I take this time to be alone and think. And yes, I do come back home feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the obstacles that life throws at me.
However, travel doesn’t solve everything.
Last year, I was in and out of depression. It was only when I travelled, that I felt like I was myself.
Travel without a doubt helped me a great deal when I was going through a difficult period in my life. However, it was a temporary fix.
We sometimes use traveling as a form of escapism, but the reality is that our problems are still there waiting for us when we get back home.
You can achieve the impossible
When I set myself this goal, I did it for fun. I thought it was impossible for me to accomplish.
I never thought I could have traveled as much as I did. But it just goes to show, that we are capable of achieving the impossible.
So, I really hope this inspires you to go out and achieve your own “impossible” goals!