As we learned in Part 1 of my ‘What happens on the road’ series, traveling ultimately provides the path to dive into yourself and see what you’re all about. It allows for the ‘inner travel’ so to speak. And yes, that’s how I came up with my business name. 😉
Now I will bring you to my adventures in Asia where I traveled with chickens, combated crazies, and the importance of charting a course but being open to wild and wonderful opportunities.
1. Find humour everywhere.
Sometimes life smacks you into situations where all you can do is laugh at the absurdity of it all. As I wrapped up my time in Oz I debated heading down to New Zealand to visit my friend Kathy or heading up to South East Asia for a couple of months on my own. In search of a ‘culture shock’ I decided to head to South East Asia. I flew from Darwin to Bali and soon found myself on an over-stuffed bus cramped in with squawking chickens, screaming humans, undefined foul stenches, and a man seated next to me whom I shall refer to as ‘The Snorter’. You know those folks who seem to have continually plugged sinuses and never stop ‘snorting’ to try and clear them? Yet, they never seem to actually find the sweet nasal relief they’re seeking? Ya, that’s who I had next to me for an overnight 8-hour trip. About 90 minutes in I realized the only way to cope with this was to make it a fun little game for myself. So I timed him. I was curious to see how long The Snorter could go without snorting.
The absolute longest he could go was 5.8 seconds but he mainly averaged around 3 seconds. Needless to say, it was a looooong trip. Thankfully my little game allowed me to laugh it off.
2. Always trust your gut
When I landed in Thailand’s Krabi Island I felt instantly at home. Beautiful beaches, pristine waters, tons of fellow adventurers, friendly locals, and exquisite food. I quickly realized this was also the place to learn some cool new things so I took a Bhakti painting course and had signed up for rock climbing and fire-twirling courses (the latter was going to be my
new only party trick). The Bhakti painting course happened but unfortunately due to rainy weather I wasn’t able to get rock climbing but I was excited to learn my fire twirling tricks. That was until I slowly realized that the fire twirling instructor was following me around the island. At first I thought I was being paranoid and tried to brush it off. But my gut kept telling me differently. At sunset I was strolling the beach by myself and noticed this dude on my periphery. The hairs went up on my neck as I realized ‘yep, this guy is certifiably creepy’ and I needed to find a safe space to hang out. Thankfully, I found a group of rock climbers I had been talking to earlier hanging out at a beach bar and with massive eyeballs and outstretched arms I silently told a story of ‘OMG pretend you know and love me so I can get rid of this Stage 5 clinger on my 6!’ They thankfully picked up on my signals of ‘stranger danger’ and welcomed me to their cabana party with equally open arms. I’ll never forget the one dread headed guy literally swooping me under his arm and into his chest as he whispered ‘you’re ok’. He held me tight to him for a good 5 mins or so and once we all realized the creeper was gone we celebrated with some frosty drinks.
So no new party-trick for me, but I learned a much valuable lesson instead. ALWAYS.TRUST.YOUR.GUT.
Which proved beneficial AGAIN when I was on a boat trip over to Komodo Island. I was getting a weird vibe off one of the deck hands and went to sleep that night with my adrenals on high alert. And yep, I caught the weirdo watching me sleep. It was like a scene from a scary movie where the camera zooms into the creeps face but they don’t flinch. They just keep staring. So I faked a bathroom visit and developed my plan. I came back to my spot on the boat and asked 3 British blokes if I could nuzzle in-between them instead. Thankfully, they didn’t see any problem with that and I was able to sleep almost-soundly the rest of the night.
3. Believe in yourself.
Traveling by yourself is not for the faint of heart. It’s a brave decision and it’s fuelled by a lot of perseverance and gumption. It continually pushes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to do things you might not normally do. One minute you’re sipping fresh fruit smoothies and swinging in a hammock beachside wondering how such an outstanding place even exists in this world, and the next you’re standing your ground arguing in a foreign language with a local who is trying to intimidate you. Travel delivers stark contrasts like that so you can find out who you really are and what you’re made of because you’re continually on ‘foreign’ ground.
But ohhhhh man, is it worth it. Upon arriving back home I felt amazingly proud and satisfied. I.did.it! I survived for a year on my own in 5 foreign countries where I navigated language barriers, transportation bookings (and delays, cancellations, and lost tickets), forged new friendships (that are still alive and well today), and did it all with one backpack, one passport, and one big curious heart. There were times I wanted to pack it all in (I found this feeling surfaced every 3 months), call my Mom and be tucked safely into my own bed. But I knew this was my time to discover ME and I was committed for the long haul. No way I was going to let myself down. Because it’s how you show up in the challenging moments that define you, build your character, and make you who you are.
That being said, I still struggle ALL THE TIME with believing that I can do…well….anything out of my comfort zone. The current ones are messages like ‘Who am I to think I can be a successful coach?’ or ‘Why would anyone want to buy into my workshop?’ And don’t laugh at me, but when I find myself spinning in my own head I turn to my furry childhood friends and they usually give me the boost I need.
4. Give yourself permission.
Do you often find you’re the only thing standing in your own damn way?! I find I’m
often always the only thing standing in my own way. How many times I’ve said ‘oh no, I couldn’t do that’ or ‘but what if it doesn’t work out?’ or ‘what if I hate it?’
Over the years I’ve learned it’s better to say ‘oh well’, than ‘what if’ because I want to be the old lady with no regrets.
And this lesson was specifically ingrained in me when I worked in home care for seniors. Curiously I would ask them what their one regret in life was and 100% of them said ‘I wish I had travelled more when I had the chance.’ So when I’d talk to them about my dreams of Australia they’d all sweetly, and some sternly, remind me that I needed to GO AND DO IT. And who am I to argue with folks who have decades of wisdom?
And so, I gave myself permission to go on the adventure of a lifetime.
5. Have a plan, but be open to opportunities.
When I landed in Sydney I knew where I was staying for the first two nights and where I needed to go to get myself situated in Australia in terms of getting a mailing address, phone number, bank card, etc. I had mapped out where I’d wanted to be in which months and an idea of how’d I get there (planes, trains, or automobiles), as well as what my ‘must see/do’s’ were. It was a beautifully coloured, researched, and sorted spreadsheet that I was quite proud of. But beyond that I was pretty open (not easy for this planner at heart!) to being a true explorer. In an effort to see as much of the Australia that I could, I began by heading west across the country to Perth. From there I had planned on going north to Broome only to find that a cyclone was due to hit there any day.
Cue Outkast’s hit song at that time ‘Ms. Jackson’ – “you can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather.”
So by week 2 my heavily researched plan had already been thwarted. BUT one of the perks of traveling solo is that you can change plans in an instant, so instead I took up a fellow traveller’s offer to head south with them (ohhh, hello wine country!) and had a grand ol’ time.
Situations like this happened constantly and the more I let go of the colour-coded calendar the more I was able to go with the flow and trust that I’d be guided to where I was meant to be. And that’s precisely what happened in the end (and always does).
TRUST continues to be a big theme for me and I’m still learning valuable lessons about it. I wouldn’t trade a single second of that year abroad with all it’s manic highs and lows and although I had a plan of how’d it all go, I ultimately trusted in myself. Trusting that I’d make my way, trusting that I’d know who to trust (and not trust), and trusting that it would all unfold as it should no matter how hard I tried to control everything. And that’s the lesson that keeps repeating for me today – LET GO. Loosen your grip, be open to guidance, and know that it can actually turn out better than you can ever have planned.