What I had learnt whilst living on the road. It’s been four weeks since Cairns, Australia. Where this trip began. For the past ten months, I have constantly moved from one place to another. Lived out of my bags and haven’t had a permanent residence to call home. I’ve lived on the sofas of my colleagues, the living room at my parent’s and shared a few beds with friends. Being on the go wasn’t new to me, therefore I thought that a month long road trip would be nothing but a box to tick, an adventure to have and a story to tell. But as always, it never turns out how you expect it. You learn a lot about yourself, others and realise things you never would on the daily grind.
Here are just a few things I’ve learnt on my journey.
You don’t have to do everything by yourself.
I realised something as my travel companions and I camped under the stars one night, towards the outback of the East Coast. They had a special kind of friendship, the one where you thought they were in a relationship but were actually just really good friends. They depended on each other a great deal and that to me, a self-reliant soul, was unusual but weirdly magical at the same time. Being independent is a beautiful thing. Especially when you’re travelling. To know that you don’t need to rely on anybody for anything. To be free, with only your own personal fears and excitement to restrict you. That being said, being independent does have the capacity to impair your ability, to make deep connections with the people around you. Knowing full well that you can enjoy your own company and do your own thing may make you stubborn, and not give the people around you a chance. This could result in the possibility of missing out on what could be a beautiful camaraderie between strangers. As well as this, it taught me that there are people there to help and never feel bad to ask for it. As a travelling trio, we were all we had, which meant that we needed to help each other out to make our travels as pleasant as they could be. There is a stigma where you are thought of as weak or useless when you ask for help, which just isn’t true. People need each other, that is that. Not only does asking for help improve the situation you’re in, it makes the people you ask feel better about themselves, therefore creating a bond which could never have been. The ability to achieve great things on your own is a brilliant attribute but it doesn’t mean you have to. Being able to build a bond with others will not only enhance your experience but it can also help you progress faster as people are the best advisers.
Plan ahead but be quick to improvise.
Planning is crucial especially when you know you’ll be constantly on the road. Having the right equipment for your cooking needs and a good map to follow at the start, will save you the stress of figuring it out later. No need to meticulously plan anything but a good idea will go a long way. The right clothes for the right temperature, bug repellants (always a must unless you want to be scratching holes in your skin), some form of light and plenty of water bottles just in case you get stuck in the middle of nowhere. However, no amount of preparation will guarantee you a long trip with no trouble, so being able to improvise is a must. Wether it’s having to stitch your broken tent up in the middle of the night whilst it rains or having to completely re-route you’re trip due to a cyclone, being able to act fast will get you out of trouble. Find new ways to make use of things such as olive oil as a moisturiser, towels as curtains or even old tin cans as candle holders. Just think outside the box, there may not always be shops or people to rely on so don’t be afraid to let your creativity flow. As I’ve said, not everything will always go according to plan, so it’s best to keep an open mind and solve any difficulties as quickly as you can. Don’t let minor things ruin your trip.
Comfort is a luxury not a necessity.
Now don’t get me wrong, comfort and being comfortable can be two different things. After having slept in a tent almost every night for the past 4 weeks, with temperatures fluctuating high to low, I had to make sure that I was warm or cool enough so I was able to sleep. Comfortable. It then occurred to me that there are people on this planet sleeping in conditions not much different from mine. Take Manila for example, the city where I was born. It was the norm for families to live in shanty houses sharing one bed, whereas I shared a fairly large tent with one other person. Perspective. Being on the road has made me realise that it is possible to live on the bare minimum and still be in good shape. It has made me see that the latest gadgets and fancy meals are treats as oppose to a way to live. Through advertisement and the media, we are forced to see everything as a necessity when they aren’t. Enough food and water, a warm dry place to sleep and clean clothes accompanied by good company are all you need to live perfectly well. To rely on materialism for bliss, is to lose touch with our own peace of mind, as number is infinite and the desire for more will never end. Of course I’m not saying that you should live in a tent and cook all your food in fires or camping stoves for the rest of your lives, that would be ridiculous. It’s just that there are certain things in this life that we could do without, and focusing our energy and salaries towards something more fulfilling such as experiencing different ways of living, or building memories with people rather than the newest console or that pair of shoes you just have to have, it would probably be more rewarding in the long run.
Live in the moment and enjoy it.
The now. What does that even mean? To live in the moment, how do we achieve that? Coming from a very future orientated individual, this has been the most important lesson that I have learnt. Looking back and looking forward does give you a good perspective on where you are in life, however it can restrain you from appreciating the wonders around you. The smell of fresh air and the sounds of wildlife. The colour of the sky when the sun is setting and even having to cook breakfast at a supermarket carpark, after not having eaten for a day. The little things starts to grow into a mosaic of memories, all involved to portray an impeccable account of experiences. Being on the move constantly, it has made me recognise how I may never again cross paths with the people I have encountered, and for this reason I was more inclined to enjoy their company. To really get to know them as I might not get the chance to, once we go our separate ways. I have learnt to be more open and amicable, to establish a bond that will be remembered no matter how short or long the encounter. I’ve learnt to see communities for what they are to me, not for what they were and what they could be. For me, to live in the moment is to accept that what has happened, happened and what will happen, will happen. Better or worse, and it’s all down to what happens now.