Guest Post- Life Lessons You Can Learn From Travelling

Today’s guest post is courtesy of writer and entrepreneur, William Bourn. Thanks, William! 🙂 

Buddha says: there is only one mistake one can make along the road to truth; not going along the way, and not starting. But let’s make room for one more along this road: not looking at what’s right in front of you.

When people are under pressure or stress, they tend to shut other people out. History class was the worst for me. My teacher would always make us write essays, and I’d do my essay at home, but then suddenly I realized that everything I wrote was all wrong, and I’d get all stressed about it since tomorrow is the deadline, and then I’d start yelling at my brother whenever he tried to pester me. Well, that may be a bit milder than the usual situations, but the point is when we become stressed, we tend to vent it out our frustrations on other people.  Actions like this stick with every aspect of their life. They become distrustful of other people. They then treat the present world as a one painful yesterday. It may help them get through the feeling of confusion and pain at the time, but they will realize later on how it affects their life decisions.

You can spot these people from a mile away because of their irrational statements. They say things like, “people can’t be trusted” or “people are idiots”. These are the roots of prejudice.

How can you possibly feel hostility towards somebody who loves his community and reaches out to visitors? The only way to do this is by failing to see the person for who they are and only seeing the shadow of a past enemy instead.

Travelling and communicating with the world are the solutions to these problems. We were raised knowing certain traditions and norms, and when we come across people who go beyond or below the standards, we develop hatred. By traveling, we become exposed to different cultures and people, which broadens our understanding of different kinds of people. It’s the way to cure our prejudices.

There are tons of life lessons we can learn from traveling, and since I’m pretty fond of traveling from one place to another, let me show you some of my favorites:

It’s okay not to plan everything

We’re used to planning things out before we execute them. We need to plan our weekend. We need to plan for our future. We need to plan who to marry. We need to plan which clothes to wear. We need to plan when to go to the dentist.

Planning has already become an important aspect of our life that attempting to do something unplanned seems frightening. But when we travel we realize that no matter how hard we try to plan everything, things won’t always work out the way we want it to.

I once booked a plane ticket to California to attend our family reunion. All my cousins were there. I was really looking forward to talking with them again after we’ve been separated for five years. I booked the ticket three days early. When the big day came, I was so excited to step out of the car and board in the airport, but as I did one of the employees told me that my flight was delayed and will resume the following week. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to come to the reunion. What’s the moral of the story? Things won’t always go the way it’s planned. That doesn’t mean you stop caring about everything that happens to you. It just means, do your best to prepare, but if you left out some details, that’s okay too. Things will just fall in its proper place.

It’s okay to be lost

Everyone who knows me knows how bad I am at taking directions. I’ve been commuting to my new workplace for a couple of months now, but there are still times when I find myself lost in the middle of nowhere. And then I have to ask people where I am just so I can maneuver my way back to the office. When you’re in the city having poor navigation skills is a bad thing. You can’t get to places. Even if you did, it’s going to be a while before you get there. But when you’re a traveler, you know that getting lost is just another new opportunity to explore and learn new things. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself for your lack of direction sense, just embrace it. Take the time to look around and appreciate nature’s beauty.

There are times in our life when we feel lost. We don’t know if we’re on the right track. What do I mean? Well, there are times that we feel like we’ve made wrong decisions, taking us to places we shouldn’t be, but instead of hating ourselves for our mistakes, we should just enjoy the ride and see what happens next. We can’t avoid mistakes, but we can learn from them.

Talk to strangers

Contrary to what our parents taught us, talk to strangers. The truth is, we can be a bit choosy when it comes to people. We only want to talk to people who we think are a lot like us, and ignore the ones who we think are uncool. And oftentimes, this brings us to a situation where we feel like everyone’s up to no good. We’ve all been there a couple of times: our best friend betraying us, boyfriend or girlfriend cheating on us, a workmate working towards ruining us. But it’s only because we don’t look beyond our gates.

We get to meet amazing people when we talk to strangers. There are people who think that they are travelers just because they travel a lot. You’re only a travel lover when you can travel by yourself. Real travelers feel excitement upon having to meet new people.

Don’t stress over things you can’t change

We want things to go our way. To do that, we study until we drop, we work until there’s nothing left of us, we train until we’re in tip-top shape. But sadly, this never did anything but got us frustrated. We just have to accept that there are things that we can’t change.

I used to be so upset when our bus broke down. But ever since traveling became an integral part of my life, accidents become another opportunity to just chill and enjoy the moment.

The world isn’t so scary

Stepping out of our comfort zone has always been scary. Just think about all the wolves and lions that could devour us at any moment right after we step out of our gates. But when you’re a traveler, you’ll realize that all those scary characters we hear about are just simple people being themselves. They’re not really going to swallow us whole. They won’t be hurting one piece of our body. We just have to accept that people are what they are and that we just need to adapt.

Author Bio:

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William Bourn is one of the pillars of crazy essay, alongside his college peers. He functions as both writer and social media ambassador for their business.  He occasionally makes podcasts for students and newbie bloggers to better their writing. William continuously practices corporate social responsibility by donating to various foundations.

Thursday Thoughts: Starting the Trip of a Lifetime!

2 weeks ago I was sitting in a fancy hotel room in Vancouver, Canada, waiting for the anticipated flight to Paris, France. Now, I am sitting in an apartment in Barcelona, Spain with a handful of stories already under my belt. Where do I even begin?

Here I am, enjoying Europe. This trip is just getting started.

I honestly can’t believe I left everything behind. It feels so refreshing. I brought a small suitcase, which I left in Paris, and a big red backpack stuffed to the max. Everyone told me to travel light but seeing as how I may hit some different climates along the way I did not pack light at all. My backpack is pretty heavy so luckily I don’t have to carry it too far. With cabs to and from airports, I just have to worry about my smaller carry-on bags while I’m traveling around.

Paris and Barcelona in the winter are exactly the same climates as winter back home in Victoria. It’s a bit rainy, windy and there’s a slight chill in the air. Luckily the sun has made an appearance a few times.

My best friend, Lisa, has been by my side the whole way and we’ve had the Trip of a Lifetime! We’ve seen The Louvre,  The Eiffel Tower and Galeries Lafayette in Paris. We’ve also discovered the impressive Sagrada FamĂ­lia Cathedral, Park GĂŒell and the beautiful beaches of Barcelona. Our feet have ached and our sleep comes early, but it’s been worth every second. Each day tells a different story. The faces we see and the paths we take change on the regular. Ah, the joys of traveling. Long line ups have definitely tested my patience but it is nothing I haven’t experienced before.

I feel more ready this time around. It’s been smooth sailing for most of the trip. A lot of people speak English and with a bit of broken French and Spanish; it’s easy to get around. Groceries and the everyday bottle of wine costs much less than I would have thought. The most expensive thing is accommodation. Fortunately, I have not had to pay much towards my temporary housing during the trip thus far. I have had an exponential amount of luck and people who care about me to generously put me in a safe and comfortable living situation at their own expense.

dsc_0007From the Eiffel Tower to the famous masterpiece, Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudí, we have checked so many items off the bucket list. I feel so privileged to be able to travel to the fullest and cherish each moment like no other.

Now I can say I’ve dipped my feet in the Mediterranean Sea. I can reminisce about the views from atop the Eiffel Tower overlooking Paris. I can brag about the warm sun on my face on Christmas Eve in Barcelona Square. That is if the sun comes out again tomorrow.

 

Until next time, I want to wish everyone a happy holiday! Wherever you are; enjoy all of it. 🙂 Stay tuned for more stories of the long-awaited trip to Europe.

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*Euro Trippin*

~Europe~

It’s been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. When I was a teenager I dreamed of traveling to Paris, France. I don’t know if it was because I had heard France was a beautiful country or if it was because of my deep romantic nature that drew me in. I would always look at photos of the Eiffel tower and imagine what it would be like to stand underneath it.

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The city of love; I wanted to be a part of it.

There are so many cultures, languages, monuments, foods and a million more amazing things to discover in Europe; why wouldn’t you want to go there?

Italy, Spain, France, England, Scotland, Norway, and of course not to mention Amsterdam… they’re ALL right there on one continent. It sounds like a pretty great experience I have yet to enjoy.

I guess what I am trying to say is:

I’M GOING TO EUROPE!!!

6 months ago I started planning my trip after spontaneously booking a promo flight I just couldn’t pass up. And yes you guessed it: I’m flying to Paris 🙂

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I have once again decided to pack up my entire life and leave the country to go exploring. Once I gave my notice to my office, it really started to feel like reality. People sometimes don’t understand how I can do it.

The most common reaction is: “I don’t know if I could ever do anything like that!”

But the fact of the matter is, I don’t know if I can do it either. I have no idea what is in store for me. There are so many variables that can impact the outcome of the trip. I’m sure I will meet many people from all walks of life that point me in a direction I would’ve never thought I could go. The only difference is that I actually thrive on fear and love stepping outside of my comfort zone. A lot of people don’t like that feeling and fear change so it limits the practice of spontaneity which is just fine for those people.

Truth is: I’m terrified! And that excites me!

There is absolutely no way to describe the combination of fear, joy, excitement and uncertainty when you feel these feelings all at once. It’s like a whirlwind of emotions fighting with one another deep within your gut. It’s those very feelings that push me to do the unthinkable; quit my job, pack away my life and leave the country with no real return date in mind.

My ticket may say that I’m coming back home in 4 months, but who knows what can happen during that time. I could run out of money and have to return sooner than expected or I could get a great job and extend my stay for a longer period. Either way, I get to experience something on a large-scale. It’s an adventure no matter what the outcome may be.

It’s true what they say: “You never know until you try.”

So try I must.

In 48 days I will get on a plane and fly to a place I’ve never seen before. I will leave my former self here in Victoria to find a new self and mold her into a brand new person. I will go to Paris and I will try to fall back in love with myself again after this long year full of ups and downs.

I will grow.

I will change.

I will travel.

I will love.

I can’t wait!

postcard-1185804 with love ~T 

Preparing for the Next Big Trip!

It’s been about 10 years since my last big trip. I remember when I finally decided on my destination: Australia ❀ Of course 6 other countries followed that one and a lot of wonderful memories were made. It was the single greatest experience of my entire life.

It all seems like a distant dream now that so much time has passed. Was it even real? Did I really live and work on Saint Kilda beach in Melbourne? Did I really take a boat tour around the islands of Figi? Did I really ride down those white water rapids in Thailand?

It happened, and it changed my life forever. I gained a deep love for traveling. I met so many amazing people who have remained my friends from afar despite the years that have passed us by. My love for travel has never diminished and my desire to explore this tiny world we live in has only burned stronger and brighter with time.

So now is the time to plan the next big trip! I’m talking about multiple countries over a long time frame in which I have to leave everything behind including my job and my loved ones.

THE NEXT BIG TRIP!

The preparations are already underway; I’ve applied for and received my brand new 10-year passport. My belongings have either been sold or donated and I now only have 3 bins to store. I’ve also received a working holiday visa as well after a lengthy application and some running around to gather all of the documents that were needed.

During my last big trip, I was able to store most of my stuff in my parent’s basement. This time around I do not have that luxury as there is talk of selling their house. Luckily, I have a handful of best friends who are more than willing to help me out with storing the things I would like to keep such as my bed, dresser, and couch. The last thing I want to do is return home to nothing and have no money. So I’ve thought many steps ahead on this decision. I packed most of my things last night and they are now ready for storage.

Worst case scenario:

I arrive in a foreign place, lose all my belongings and money somehow and have to fly straight home on Dads credit card. Not a terrible thing and at least I gave it a try.

Best case scenario:

I arrive in a foreign place and meet some amazing friends who hook me up with a job and I never return home because my new home has captured my heart forever. I will now have to watch my nieces and nephews grow up through Facebook pictures and Skype. Not a terrible thing and at least I have a computer (I have all my things in this scenario).

So where am I headed?

I’m headed to a place full of culture.

A place where you can take a train from one country to the next and relish in the various landscapes across the land.

A place that speaks many languages.

This place has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember.

Can you guess where I’m going for my next big trip?

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~Saved by the Sea Turtles~

~For the past 3 months or so, I’ve been contemplating how to write this story. Do I write it with the swirling emotions I felt because I finally had a chance to see turtles? Or do I write the cold facts about the grievances those poor creatures endure? Does this story end with a broken heart or a happy little turtle scurrying off into the sea as the sun sets beyond the ocean?

This story is not just about the greatest turtle experience ever in the history of all turtle experiences (biased opinion since this was the first and only turtle experience I’ve had so far), but it’s a story with no real happy ending. I set out to learn about the sea turtles and those tiny turtles taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined.

Arriving in Junquillal, Costa Rica on a hot overcrowded bus was uncomfortable, to say the least, but the sunset that evening made it all worthwhile. You really haven’t savored a sunset until you watch fresh newborn baby turtles pushing their tiny legs through the sand fighting for their freedom. Watching those ambitious little babies swimming their very first strokes towards the depths of the dangerous ocean is beyond any words I can write. It’s an emotional event. I didn’t know if they would make it. And most of them probably didn’t.

13509069_10157119828460444_9055118651432322492_nThe odds are not in the turtles favor, unfortunately, but the biologists and volunteers do everything they can to help save them from poachers and other various threats. I was placed at a small turtle conservation hostel called Verdiazul, which means green/blue in Spanish. In the orientation, I learned a lot about the practices of the project and the harsh realities of the sea turtles demise. The chances of the turtles returning to the beach to nest are slim to none once they are released. If they do happen to survive, the turtles will always come back to the same beach they were born and lay their eggs in the area.

The release is a beautiful thing. It made me feel like I finally had a purpose while traveling and that all of my planning had paid off. My very first night at Verdiazul, we released nearly forty babies.

The three species of turtles that the conservation had interactions with are Black (Negras), Olive Ridley (Loras), and finally the most endangered species on the planet; Leatherback (Baulas).

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Each night the volunteers patrolled the beach for 3-4 hour shifts. Walking up and down the shoreline searching for nests, tracks or nesting mother turtles. We would spend thirty minutes walking to either the south or north ends of the beach in small groups then we rested and sat in the sand under the stars. During the mild nights, it was so tranquil I could just stare at the moon for hours listening to the waves crashing against the shore.  But when the wind picked up you would have to hide your face from sharp spitting sand in your eyes and mouth. My skin stung from some of those windy patrols. But it was the wonderful people who made those nights fly by with laughter and great conversation. I made some lovely new friends and felt very content in the passing of time.

The bitter-sweet part of this story is where I had my dream come true. My wish to encounter a Leatherback; the largest species of turtle in the entire world and the most critically endangered, finally became real on my 3rd patrol on Playa Junquillal. That was the sweet part. The bitter part is that I experienced this incredible event with someone who is no longer in my life. It’s hard to tell the story without him in it as it was such unbelievable trip. It’s a shame these memories are slightly clouded by pain now when I reminisce.

The siting was magnificent regardless. As the glow of the moon bounced off the water, the seven hundred pound mother slowly slid her way onto the beach that night. From twenty feet away she looked like a huge rock and if it hadn’t been for the slightest of grumbles as she pulled herself through the sand, we probably would’ve walked right by. We came to a sudden halt when we realized the beautiful mama Baula was directly in front of us and then slowly backed away to give her some space.

Some would say she was ugly with her wrinkled scaly face and fishy scent, but I was mesmerized by her enormous beauty. The volunteers who had studied sea turtles told us that she was probably more than fifty years old! They determine the age by the size of the turtle. The older they are the bigger they are. We watched in amazement as the mother moved up the beach towards some nearby grass, looking for the perfect nesting spot. Our group leader called the rest of the volunteers from a cell phone as Baulas are rare and she knew everyone would come running to witness the endangered creatures trek to lay her eggs.

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Tears of joy welled up in my eyes as I patiently waited to see what would happen. Just as the turtle neared the grassy mound, she started to turn around back towards the sea. At that moment a group of the senior volunteers circled around her to take down some information. I did wonder if she was spooked by the people surrounding her at first, but they started to take measurements and record the markings on her shell. Apparently, this was not the first time the mother had traveled to this beach to nest. I was astonished to learn that the markings on her shell and the irregular shape of her fins matched those of the Leatherback babies we had released from the hatchery earlier that day.

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Although the mother turtle did not end up nesting that night, I felt privileged to be in her presence none the less. The only images I have of her are in my mind, just for me as I was not able to take any photos. Turtles are very sensitive to light and that’s why they come to nest at night, guided by the moon. But through the darkness, I saw something most people never have a chance to witness. To know that her kind is almost extinct and that I had the chance to see a short part of her journey, well, the feeling is indescribable.

Looking back, I understand that a 2-week en-devour did not have a huge impact on the sea turtles at all, nor can I say that I saved them. My wish to save the sea turtles will only ever be a desire and not a fact. I was merely a small aid to the conservation project in its efforts to improve the chances of the turtles survival and educate the community about the threats to these glorious reptiles. I did, however, learn a great deal about the life of a sea turtle and I will forever be grateful for that.

10431871_489861497868477_1069012161_nSo how did the sea turtles save me you ask? Well, they taught me some very valuable lessons:

Swimming out into the unknown will either kill you or make you stronger.

Letting go is an essential part of life and although it may be the most difficult thing you ever do, it will only pave the way for a new life.

And finally; even though your initial release into the deep waters ahead of you may inevitably end in disaster, the only thing you can do is move forward like those little babies swimming their very first strokes towards the depths of the dangerous ocean in the direction of that fading sun while it sinks away.

It may have taken months to come to these conclusions, but now I am here at the shoreline ready to see what lies ahead. And yes, sadly, my story ended with a broken heart, but my survival odds are greater than the turtles and I am very fortunate for that. In the end, my experience with the sea turtles turned out to be much more rewarding than I expected. I left the conservation full of love, knowledge and admiration for those involved with this remarkable cause. It was worth every second and I will never forget it.

And that’s my story of how I was saved by the sea turtles.

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Let’s Go Eat Bugs in Thailand!

~It was a warm humid night in Koh Phangan, Thailand and I was on a mission to find a tasty treat. A treat I had never had before and I was a bit nervous to say the least. There was a specific dish I was looking for that night and I would not rest until I had bugs in my belly.

Yes that’s right… bugs.

I was always told that bugs were a delectable specialty in Thailand and being the curious person that I am I just had to try some crunchy little critters. I was with some fellow travelers I had met during the trip and we stuck together as we walked up and down rows of booths and tables full of food and merchandise. Sweat was soaking through my shirt and my hair was sticking to my face so I slicked it back. My cheeks were beat red and we were about to give up on the bug hunt, when suddenly out of nowhere a local man walks up to us with a huge smorgasbord FULL of different bugs.

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There were bags and bags of beetles and cockroaches, crickets and grasshoppers, fat juicy worms and slimy larva. They even had charcoal black frogs that had been fried to a crisp. It was the most elaborate bug display I’d ever seen. It was absolutely incredible!

It was time to fill my plate! 😀

Now you may think that a bug tastes just a gross as it looks, but you might be surprised. The grasshoppers and crickets were actually really good! They were salted and crunchy and literally tasted just like a chip that was deep-fried. But there were some other bugs that I tried that were not so good.

The beetles may look like crunchy goodness like the crickets, but when you bite into one you better be ready for a soft gooey mess to squirt into your mouth. Oh my goodness I almost hurled when I bit into that beetle but I actually managed to choke it down. That wasn’t the worst one though.

Worms. Blaaak!

Worms are disgusting. They’re soft and squishy and taste like poop. I couldn’t swallow one because I gagged as soon as I bit into it and spit it out on the ground, which was really disrespectful and I felt kind of bad afterwards. The bug chefs didn’t seem to mind. All in all it was a great experience that I had always wanted to try and since I liked the crickets so much, I ordered a bag full and scarfed them down 🙂 Mmmm.

~Scratch off bucket list. I ate bugs in Thailand!~

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Stories of… Thailand