Recently myself and Adrian put together an entry for a film competition, our entry included a hype reel at the end from our past three years of being on the road and it got me thinking of just how bloody lucky I have been to get to travel the world and the way I have gotten to do it.
I cobbled together the money for my first flight by working odd jobs, spent a month living on a shoestring budget in Uganda and haven’t looked back since. I have spent the last decade chasing the worlds best whitewater, sleeping under the stars and living cheap. Sometimes things change rapidly and sometimes things change so gradually that you don’t notice them until you have an old reference point to compare them too. I haven’t necessarily noticed my personality, ethos or morals changing but looking back, I have definitely been shaped by the last ten years on the road in different countries.
I’m grateful for being able to spend time in beautiful places in the world but I am far more grateful for the way these places have changed me.
Being born in a country like England means that I have been exempt from many struggles that other humans have to face daily. Anytime I think my life is hard I cast my mind back to the Ugandans in the village I lived in, these people toil under the sweltering sun all day long to earn enough money to put food on the plates for their kids. The most humbling thing about the Ugandans is that they manage to do it with a smile on their face, happy, cheerful and having a great time in hard conditions. The memories of living in that village serve as a constant reminder that plenty of people have it harder than me and plenty of people have a much more positive way of dealing with tough times. Life is what you make of it.
It has been really interesting to see the way that different countries approach work. Some countries like Japan have an incredible work ethic of drive and respect. Other countries take a little bit of a lazier approach to work. The really interesting thing to see is that despite the approach, somehow things always get done. By nature, I am a grafter. I need to work and feel like I am being productive to be happy but I can also burn myself out. My time in Mexico serves as a good reminder that you can’t go hard everyday and you sometimes a small afternoon siesta or a day off is the key ingredient in maintaining that drive and moving towards your goals.
Travelling will put you into positions that you have never been in before. It forces you to think on your feet and be adaptable. Which are maybe some of the most valuable life skills you can develop.
Of all the gifts that travelling has given me, a large, eclectic, multi national group of friends is my most treasured. I might not have that much money but in most countries I have a floor to crash on, someone to share a beer with and a network of people that care about me. I am constantly pushed to be a better person and a better friend by the wonderful people that choose to be mine.
The old man that smiles and waves as you pass by, the person that welcomes you into their home for a cup of tea and the stranger that gives directions. These are all small gestures of Altruism, by this point I have been to a few countries that have a reputation for being dangerous for tourists to visit. While I am sure there is potential for things to get tricky, I have honestly never had any issues. All countries have bad guys and tough neighborhoods but the vast majority of the people are just trying to live a good life and get on with their own problems. Don’t believe the extreme snippets you hear on the news. In Mexico we stay just down the road from a drug cartel and have no issues, in Pakistan we where welcomed warmly by everyone and routinely shared cups of tea with tough guys and their Ak47s. There are very few people in this world that actually want to cause intentional harm to other people and it is that belief in Altruism that has opened doors for me and led me to situations that few people believe. Such as drinking moonshine at a Pakistani arms dealers house, lovely chap – we follow each other on Instagram now.
Travelling is far more than just seeing beautiful places, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow as a person.
Best of luck with your own travels and personal growth,