On the road one is constantly comparing the actual place one is in with the places one has already visited and home base. Here are some thoughts that have crossed my mind
- Hot showers
A very basic thing can become so much more valued if one doesn’t have it anymore. I felt like a star when I got to a hotel or back home and realised there was actually hot water coming out of the shower head, and with some pressure!! The first time I was standing in the shower for more than half an hour just because I could. Amazing feeling!
- My car
Interestingly, I started missing my own car rather early in the journey. Not being able to get into the car and just drive wherever I want, even only for some food shopping, made me go crazy at times. Being reliable on someone to get somewhere is really a part of freedom I am definitely NOT ready to give up on. It gives me the freedom I need to be independent and do things on my own without restrictions.
- My friends and family
Of course you miss your friends and family, but being with them again after a long time makes one appreciate the right people in your life even more. I realised that having a good human network and a supporting surrounding is the most valuable “thing” to have. No material thing can make you as happy as the people you have in your life.
- The variety of food
Some communities I have lived in eat their local food, sometimes even the same things for breakfast, lunch and dinner, even though it is a rather healthy diet as they prepare everything from fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish, like in Sri Lanka. Others have very unhealthy eating habits as in South Africa, for example, where sugar and fat dominated everything. I was grateful that in some places I had the chance to go grocery shopping and cook myself so that I could get a taste of my own cooking, could exchange food habits and recipes and get a break from the local food. I was surprised by that reaction as I was looking forward to all the different food the world has to offer, but I realised that in Luxembourg we are spoilt with the variety of food we can eat there.
- Organised work and deadline
Time is a concept which is a concept different in every place in the word and different again for each and everyone on their own. I am a rather organised, sometimes even a perfectionist person, who works a lot and likes it the organised, practical and effective way. As I tried to find my place in projects, I observed and tried to adapt to the local system, but most of the time it drove me crazy to see how much time was lost through ineffective work or just constant distractions. Working on a schedule is rather unknown in many places and reaching a goal after a specific time is nearly impossible. I wanted to finish my missions, projects and work before leaving for the next place but that was rather impossible as deadlines are usually more flexible than in the world I grew up and work in. Reliable work colleagues is also a very valuable factor in this matter as one can be reliable oneself, but if one has to rely on a person who isn’t, it will make you go nuts.
In most of the places in the world recycling, waste control and waste management don’t exist. I was shocked to see that most people don’t know or don’t care about putting their rubbish into bins or even recycling their rubbish to reduce the actual growing of landfills. It drives me crazy to see people throwing everything into their nature, into the streets or onto the beautiful beaches. Even while surfing I was sometimes tangled up in some plastic bag or stepped onto some strange rubbish. Even composting, the most basic recycling method, is not applied, not even by people living in the middle of nature. I can’t wrap my brain around stuff like that. I am sure our system is not perfect but at least we try to care a little bit more about looking after our rubbish.
- Variety of clothes or lack of variety
I realised how little need there is for having different clothes. It is way more stressful to have to decide from all the clothes in the wardrobe in the morning before going to work than choosing from the few clothes available in your bag on the road. I don’t say I didn’t miss my wardrobe but I enjoyed not having to worry about what to wear and just go with the few possibilities available.
- Living in company
Even though I have been traveling by myself I have never been alone. Either I lived in a host family, in a hostel/hotel, slept in a tent with someone, shared dorms, or travelled in company on public or organised transport. I have constantly had to connect with others to move on and I am really enjoying the constant company. At home I live in my own flat and driving by myself in the car and I feel lonely way more often than I did while solo travelling.
- Living without constant internet connection
Sleeping in the desert or in the bush entails the fact that there is no Internet connection. In general in Africa there was only a chance of a connection around once a week. I first realised how addicted I am to having an Internet connection but then I started appreciating the disconnected life. You have so much more time to do other things (once you have found out what they can be)
- Solo travelling isn’t scary at all
Once you are open to the world the world opens up to you. You have to stay in touch with your gut feeling to avoid dangerous situations but most of all the journey time is very pleasurable.