This has been the longest time I have traveled. And it has been an amazing journey. I have seen amazing things, grown as a person, realized my own strengths and weaknesses, changed my eating habits, gone to incredible healers who have brought healing to my body and soul, and have expanded my outlook on life. Here are the top twenty-nine things that I learned.1. The greatest thing about traveling had nothing to do with the beaches that I saw, the temples, or even the food. It’s not about rushing around to see the sights. The best part of travel were the people who I met. I loved seeing what we had in common and seeing how we were different. Hearing their stories expanded me as a person, changed me, humbled me, and showed me that no matter how far away we may be from one another that we are all connected.
2. I need to surround myself with more colors and flowers. Living in grey Portland has taken a toll on my soul. I also need to wear less black. I am a brightly colored flower and should start looking like one.
3. My greatest moments of joy are when I live in my body and not my mind.
4. This moment is all I have. I need to start living like I know this.
5. A lot of Americans live their lives in constant fear. Fear of not having enough. Fear of losing their jobs. They have fear of losing what they have. I used to live this way. I let fear control me. Here, I realized a better way.
6. I realized the American dream was not my dream. Working long hours to own a house, and then spending the remaining hours left in a day to clean and take care of it are not how I want to spend my life.
7. I want to live somewhere where I don’t need a car. But not just somewhere that has a good bus system. I want to be able to walk everywhere. When you walk, you notice things. People, flowers, birds, trees. I want to live my life noticing more.
8. Sometimes I just have to treat myself to luxury, and not think of the cost. I am worth it.
9. I have learned to be grateful for the small things. Things I used to take for granted. Like ice in my water, a bathroom without bugs and mosquitoes, and Egyptian cotton sheets.
10. I have quit trying to control things (well mostly!) In a place like Asia, where you really have no control over anything, and 5 minutes can mean anything from 5 seconds to 5 days, I have learned to relax, sit back, and enjoy the show. Things upset me less. I worry less. I realize that by worrying, I am not changing the outcome of the situation.
11. I am so incredibly grateful for the many healers that I visited. My body and mind were in need of healing and I was able to go to some incredible healing souls in Ubud, Bali and that changed my life. I have let go of the stress that was affecting me deeply, to the point that one healer said that I was on the verge of having a stroke when I first arrived in Bali. I will not go back to living the way I was. Nothing is worth getting my body out of balance in that way.
12. Taking time to watch the waves roll in, the rice grow, to talk to the chickens, and pet the cats were some of my favorite moments of this trip. I need to take more time to just be.
13. I have learned to do things slowly. It’s not worth rushing, or panicking, or stressing. It’s OK to be late. I once had a friend I was supposed to meet at 7pm call me exactly at 7pm wondering where I was. I was 30 seconds away. I’m not going to succumb to that kind of pressure anymore. I am not going to get caught up in the hectic American pace. I’ll get there when I get there….Breathing deeply and stopping to smell the flowers the whole way.
14. I’ve learned to dance more!! And I like it! Actually, I love it. Before, I left, I had lost touch with my body, and was just using it as a vehicle to get around. Moving my body more through dance has brought brilliance to my days, healing to my soul, and more laughter to my nights. Dance is my way of showing gratitude to my body for being there. Dancing reminds me to live in my body and not my mind.
15. I’ve eaten more vegetables here. I’ve gotten to where I actually prefer a glass of green juice over a glass of wine. (Well, most of the time.) I understand more how food brings healing to the body. My skin glows, my eyes are clearer, colors brighter, and I taste my food more now that I’ve let go of almost all sugar and wheat. I feel great. Plus, I have more energy to dance!
16. I’ve laughed more. I’ve felt more joy from the bottom of my soul. I feel more connected to life. It’s hard not to laugh when everyone around you always have huge smiles on their faces.
17. I’ve learned that if you take care of animals, they will in turn take care of you. I am thankful for all the kitties I met on this journey that stopped to share their kitty love. Such purring, loving, softness.
18. I don’t miss watching the news at all. At ALL. I’d rather spend the time watching the flowers grow.
19. I love having someone else do my laundry. The best few dollars I’ve ever spent.
20. I need to drink more coconuts.There is nothing that puts a smile on my face or a bounce in my step like a cold coconut.
21. Stopping to talk to people I meet along the way is really what life is all about. I can learn from everyone!
22. In America, I’ve gotten myself in a place where I owe on my house and I’ve just spent all of my money on things without even realizing it. It’s so easy to get brainwashed by the American Dream that our corporations have created to keep us working for them. I would like to think it just happened, but it was my choice. I now realize that it’s not my dream. I would rather have experiences than things. I’ve never been so happy having all I needed for three months in a backpack. We need much less than we think we do. In other countries, not having money is not an excuse for not having any fun. People sing. They dance. They just get together. And that being together is the fun. Deeper conversations are had. There is no other entertainment to get in the way.
23. I want to constantly learn new things. I can’t believe it took me 37 years to realize that I want to paint.
24. In Sri Lanka, I felt so unsafe that I felt like my very life was at risk. Being in this place made me really face death for the first time in my life It made me think of what I would like my life to look like if I knew I were to die soon. That’s the thing with life, there are no survivors. My life is my creation, and I need to start really living it.
25. I’ve started living from my heart. I’ve been able to ask myself what I feel like doing in a day rather than doing what I should be doing in a day. Being so busy at home, I realize I was very disconnected from myself and never had time to ask myself what mattered, how I was feeling, what it was that I wanted. Really learning to follow our hearts is the thing that matters.
26. I’ve learned that it’s OK to relax.
27. I learned that the best way to help others is just to give them my love. That’s it. Be love. If we all did this, we could heal the world.
28. I’ve learned patience. Here, where it takes two hours to have a meal. Where trains come late or not at all and waiting is just a normal part of the day, I’ve learned to enjoy just being.
29. I will never, ever, ever, no-way, no-how, no matter what, stop traveling.
I am always looking for the perfect escape, the perfect paradise, the kind of place that tosses your cares into the sea. Fortunately, I have discovered many! I created this site to show you where to go and how to get there. My goal is to show you that Paradise is only a plane ticket (or boat ride) away. I have inspired many others to travel and to create a better life. I am available for inspirational speaking, coaching, writing, travel planning, and photography.
A wonderful list of lessons learned!
I’ve absorbed some of those lessons just from reading you blog while you’ve been gone. Thank you for sharing these rich, profound, and life-changing experiences. Welcome back!
Oh, I love that!! I’ll be back on the 17th…Can’t wait to hear your voice. I’ve missed you…
LOVE, love, love this.
Yeah for you!! Looks like it was an amazing journey of discovery, exactly as it should be. Safe travels!
Beautiful Val. I can relate to all 29. I wish I wss living more of them.
Hell yeah. You shine one, Val!! Your journeys are inspiration to us all.
Thank you, Anni! As are yours!!
A treat to read your words. Good reminders All. Btw, you Are Living The Way you describe. Me too, mostly. The main characteristics of happy people, is that they prioritize being happy. And I think mostly all my life – in the years that I have had the ability to reflect – I have been mindful of my creations. I love the body parts – I could dance more always, in all ways ! There is a dance community here. Also love the colorful flower part ! Yes ! Other cultures do colors better than us. Our color tends to be in advertisement, but color outside our borders tends to just express the joy of life ! and to foster joy – Yes – Being love. There is no better gift or reason to this life.
Cat sent me here and I’m so glad she did! What a beautiful post. I especially like #23 – part of the fun of traveling is always learning something new. Thanks for a great read!
Thanks, Jessica, and welcome!!
oh and this to augment your words on the kitties of the world. Such a peaceful soundtrack with it too –
Great lessons…I try to live by #4 all the time. Have you read The Power of Now?
Yes, one of my favorite books!! So good…
Thank you! Yes, I do realize I can choose to be happy no matter where I am. In other countries, the people smile so much more, though. I think because they aren’t rushing. I had heard about the ecstatic dance community in Portland but never went because I didn’t really understand what it was. Excited to be more a part of that. Yes, I feel like all of the colors really inspired my painting for sure! And yes, being love, really what it’s all about. Can’t wait to come hang out on the water when I’m back!
I definitely believe in travel as a soul-healer, a teacher and that thing that reminds us that we have just one life and one small moment in time. Loved your list, Val – thanks for sharing!!
Thank you, Cat!!
Yay for you, Val! It sounds like travel opened your mind to all sorts of new insights. . . all of them healthier.
I can totally relate to your comment about the American Dream and having a house. We sold our house 3 years ago prior to beginning our travels and have never felt freer.
To paraphrase a common refrain. . . you keep goin’, girl 🙂
Thanks so much, Larissa! People like you who have already done it are a huge inspiration to me!
Thanks for sharing! Amazing lessons in life and you’ve only just begun 🙂
Yes, it’s exciting!
SO beautiful. I love this. You are a beautiful and courageous soul! An inspiration. Thank you for sharing your journey.
Thank you, Ann! I guess you will be leaving for Bali soon. Have so much fun…
From number one to number twenty-nine you’ve listed not just 29 things that’ll inspire other people to travel, you’ve listen 29 reasons for people to go outside and life; something people aren’t doing enough of.
Great post Val!!! I agree about wearing less black, living without a car and drinking more coconuts whole-heartedly. Travel obviously agrees with you as you look bursting with happiness in every pic!
Good on ya Val! Well said
I love this post! What great lessons to have learned – you learned them at a younger age than I did. But at least I have learned them. Keep laughing, keep traveling and most of all…keep dancing!
Thank you, Pat!!
Yes Yes YESSS!! I couldn’t agree more, especially with #1 — it’s all about the people 🙂 #6 & #7 are great as well. And of course that last one is also true for me. In fact I just sold all of my possessions and fly one-way to Indonesia to start my 4-year RTW trek right after TBEX 🙂
Congratulations, Derek!! I have lots of info about Indonesia under Escape Guides. You are picking a great place to start!
Nice list. I’m with you on a lot of them — especially living someplace where you don’t need a car!
Beautiful post! I can relate to so much of it and as a family traveing it shows exactly why we feel travel is so important for kids. Imagine learning these things as a child to start your life out with!
Thank you, Mary! Yes, it is so amazing for kids…I agree!
What a beautiful, inspiring post! I really enjoyed reading each item on your list, excellent words for all of us to live by!
Thank you! Can’t wait to get back out and learn some more (and have more adventures!)
Some great lessons learned!
What a wonderful list haha I completely agree with number 19.
Number 29 is a given.
Enjoy your travels 🙂
adore your list val. truly magnificent. walking, painting, cats, learning from others, you being your beautiful flower.. so much amazing insight. not wanting to live to work for that house and then just take care of it. amazing. thank you for this gift. oh, and i love the picture of the black young man with the great hair and the jeans the first time i saw him, and now…. amazing energy. gabi
I don’t know how I haven’t found your blog before now, but reading this post brought tears to my eyes; tears of happiness in a way, as I really believe me, my husband and children are meant to travel. We are working towards this quicker than we imagined and today I just said to my husband,”I was not put on this earth to clean and tidy this house day in and day out!” (No matter what my friends and family think 😉 )
I am so glad you found me! Yes, there is so much more to life than taking care of houses…How did you find me?
I found you through The Nomadic Family blog-trouble is, I follow so many fab travel blogs I forget to plan my own escaoe!
Hey Melanie…. looks like I am stalking you this time. LOL
I speak to my online friends more than my “real” ones!
Me too, Melanie!
Isn’t it best when it all “clicks” and all that you need to learn and love presents itself. Travel keeps us open minded and connecting with people. Yet we learn so much about ourselves. This is just wonderful.
Great lessons learned there. I’ve been on the road about three months now and am starting to figure out many of the same things as you; that it’s ok to relax, that I don’t need to be so stressed about time and you don’t need much at all to thrive. Unlike you though, I cannot get used to not reading the news, I hate not knowing what’s going on in the world!
It’s so great to just let go, isn’t it, Amy?!
Beautiful list! I always say that it’s all about the people I meet along the way. Love it!
I just randomly came across this site and I am so thankful I did. This is very inspiring for a budding traveler like me. People like you makes this world a better place to live in. I wish you well in all your future travels.
Hi Paula!! I am so glad you did, too!! And welcome!!
Lovely! I found out about your blog today after watching an interview you gave for Time Rich Travelers back in 2013. Thank you for living your dream and then sharing it with the world. I hope that you are safe and living it up wherever in the world you are currently.
That’s awesome! I love Time Rich Travelers!! I am so happy to be living my dream. If you missed it, I also have a book about how to follow your dreams! http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Catcher-Magic-Living-Your-ebook/dp/B00HKR4CXM
YES! Isn’t travel an amazing way to learn about yourself and life? My DH and I are currently in Southern Mexico and I’m blogging about what I’m learning here along the way too… Here are a few of my current “lessons” for anyone who is interested in more 🙂 http://smartliving365.com/flowing-unexpected-surprises-travels-thom-kathy-3/