I've come to realise recently that travelling has provided me with as many life lessons as my yoga journey. The two are so intertwined that they merge into one. Those of you who have been on retreat with me this year will know that I'm talking a lot about how we show up in the world, how we live in line with our surroundings and honour the events that happen in our lives by leaning into them and being fully present. Travelling is a wonderful way to practice this...
Be flexible with your plans
When I went on my first backpacking adventure in my 20's I had a detailed itinerary of literally EVERYTHING I wanted to do and yes, it was in plastic wallets and in a ring binder (don't judge me!). The best thing that happened was that I lost it after the first week. When we overplan, or get attached to expectations we miss a vital opportunity for spontaneity. I've eaten with local families in their homes, gone on impromptu road trips, changed flights and seen incredible sights I'd never even heard of. Rip up life's itinerary ... it's good for the soul.
Learn the local customs
Here in Bali when you shake hands with someone, you put your hand over your heart. How beautiful. In India when we go for thali we eat with our right hand. During Ramadan in Morocco it's respectful not to eat in public during daylight hours. To really immerse yourself in a place is to experience it through the eyes of it's inhabitants, to understand and respect someone else's point of view and way of living. A great lesson for life.
Hang out with different people you normally wouldn't
It's easy to get stuck in a friendship circle bubble at home, hanging out with people your own age, own ethnicity, with a similar job and income. The beauty of travelling is that one minute you can be playing cards with a local shopkeeper and the next partying with a bunch of 20 year old Israelis. Some of the most enlightening conversations and meaningful connections happen when we step out of what we know. We get to know different points of view and different ways of living in the world.
Downsize your life
Look around you. How much of this 'stuff' do you really need? The beauty of traveling long term is that you learn how to minimise your attachment to material possessions. Instead of getting stuck on the hamster wheel of consumerism where we need the big pay check to buy the big car we think we need, we learn to downsize and travel light. I can honestly say I don't miss any of my wardrobe, furnishings or nick nacks from home. Instead I really enjoy the extra time I get from not having to choose from mountains of outfits to go to dinner or worrying when an insignificant electrical item breaks.
The best thing about travelling alone is that you're on your own schedule. I can go to yoga at 7am if I like. I take myself out to dinner every night ... often on my own. I can go to all the trips my friends wouldn't be interested in. I learned to ride a scooter so I don't even need to rely on lifts or expensive cab rides. How can we translate this into life at home? Go on that salsa course you've been dying to attend. Take yourself out for brunch. Stay at home on Sunday in your pyjamas with a bunch of chick flicks. Taking time for yourself, by yourself, isn't selfish ... its necessary to become a confident, independent person.
There are some great ways to give back to the places you choose to travel in. I've volunteered in orphanages and wildlife sanctuaries, fostered animals and taught English to locals. This is amazing if you have time but a really simple way to make a difference and meet awesome people is go get involved in a beach clean. Most touristic places organise community clean ups ... just ask around and find out how you can get involved to help to preserve the environment. At home, why not spend some time helping out at a food drive or a care home? Being of service is the highest form of yoga after all :)
Wishing you only love