This post is written by me, brought to you by Contiki
I was originally going to write about bucket lists, but seeing as my feelings on the subject really haven’t changed over the years, I decided to make a list that is more abstract but, in my view at least, more meaningful. Instead of places you should go, I want to talk about the moments you will have. These are the irreplaceable experiences that all travelers collect, and they alone are often reason enough to start traveling.
This post is part of a series written in conjunction with Contiki Vacations. If you are a first-time traveler, or nervous about traveling alone, group trips like the ones offered by Contiki can be a great way to dip your toe in the travel experience. Whether you are alone or with a group, you are sure to find yourself surprised by each of the following experiences:
The Moment Where You Realize that Mind is Stronger than Matter
At some point, your ambitions will exceed your personal fitness level (especially if you are like me and spend more time indulging on foreign cheese than of finding a foreign gym). The fact that you’ve spent more time on the couch than the treadmill will do nothing to dissuade you from wanting to hike the Great Wall of China or summit Mount Fuji or even walk the Camino de Santiago.
You will huff and you will puff but in the end you will probably persevere because when you want something bad enough, you will go through all kind of discomfort to make it happen. Standing at the summit will feel unreal and amazing, and kind of exhausting. You will feel like you can do anything.
Then you’ll go eat some gelato.
The Moment Where You Have Absolutely Zero Idea What is Happening
This happens a lot, particularly for people willing to travel beyond their comfort zone. Maybe you’re hotel is evacuated and nobody can tell you why, or you’re staring at an incomprehensible train schedule, or you’re lost in a maze of similar looking streets. It’s inevitable, and a little bit scary when it happens, but after enough time you will learn to just shrug and watch what happens next.
The Moment Where You Impulsively Say Yes
Do you want to go on a hike tomorrow? Do you want to have a drink? Do you want to hop on a bus for Montenegro tomorrow?
These questions come on both a large and small scale but they are united by the leap of faith you take. Travel puts you in the mindset where it is easy to impulsively agree to things you would normally never consider. This is one of the ways travel redirects you in ways you never thought possible.
My best impulsive yes moment is of course applying for a Chinese Visa at the last moment to visit this guy I had just met… the one who is now my husband.
The Moment Where You Make a New Friend
One of the reasons I never fret about traveling solo is the fact that it is so incredibly easy to make friends on the road. If you stay in a hostel, you barely even have to try, people basically throw themselves at you.
The first time this happens though, it’s extremely odd but satisfying. I still remember a pair of Canadian brothers my friend and I ran into in a hostel in Sarajevo. We all went out to dinner together and were immediately good friends for the next two weeks as we travels through Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia. When we parted there were tears. Nothing romantic happened, but somewhere in through those long bus rides, late night drinking sessions and afternoons sightseeing, we’d developed a bond that was like we’d known each other for years.
The Moment Where You Have No Idea What You Just Ordered
Travel basically beat my picky-eating habits right out of me. While I used to poke around my plate, picking out offending items, I will now eat almost anything without qualm. Including things that I can’t identify.
If you travel, particularly to places with steep language barriers like China, there will come a time when you will have absolutely no idea what you are eating. In a way it’s kind of good: it gives you a chance to experience something on taste alone before you realize that it is horse, or snake, or chicken ovaries or something.
The Moment Where You Realize You Are Just Fine
It’s normal for feel scared or anxious about travel. Personally, I experience this every time I head off solo. The days leading up to a trip and the first day or so of the trip can be nerve-wracking as all the potential things that could go wrong race through my mind. What if I get lost? What if nobody will talk to me? What if I hate it and then I cry and then I just fall over dead? (I didn’t say they were rational fears).
But somewhere on that first day, as you’re walking down the street somewhere totally new, a smile starts to cross your face. You can do this, you will be fine. This is what travel is all about.
This post is written by me, brought to you by Contiki
25 thoughts on “#NoRegrets Moments Every Traveler Should Experience”
Reading your article helped me a lot, but I still had some doubts at the time, could I ask you for advice? Thanks.
What about the moment you thought you lost your passport and then found it!
I swear with my husband that moment happens daily!
I can relate to every single one of these – especially number one!! I’m definitely more of a couch person than a gym person when I’m at home, but on the road I’m all about hiking to the tops of mountains, abseiling off cliffs, and swimming as far as I can – no matter how exhausted I end up!! So glad to hear I’m not the only one.
Just out of interest, what do you think was the most physically challenging but rewarding thing you’ve managed to do? 🙂
Beautiful piece, and so true! Thanks for sharing 🙂