“Would you do it again?” That question comes up now and then, and my answer is always, “Yes, I will do it again.” There is no doubt that more long-term travel is in my future. I do not know when, where, or how, but I do plan on doing it again.
Eighteen months ago I set goals for my round the world trip. I’ve decided, finally, to look back at those goals and reflect on what I might have achieved.
Immersing myself in other cultures for extended periods of time was one of my major goals, and I’m satisfied with how I did.
Exercise? Admittedly, my standards were low, but I’ll call this a success. I walked everywhere as expected and did some occasional hiking and swimming. I also spent much more time outside than I do at home.
Writing and photography. The gift of time was the best thing about traveling for a year. I could do the things I wanted to do and make my own schedule every day. This blog, and my followers, motivated me to keep writing and taking pictures. The photography workshops I took made a huge difference in my confidence and understanding of street photography and forced me to get closer to my subjects.
Reading. I did not do as much reading as I thought I would do. Actually, I think I read a lot, but it was a different kind of reading. I read the news, blogs and was introduced to Medium, which led to hours of additional reading some days. There were some books here and there, but most of my reading involved shorter pieces on my phone.
Setting goals for my future. On my last day of this year-long adventure, I sat reflecting with my friends and fellow travelers Maya and Tony. After admitting I still didn’t know what I was going to do with my future, Tony kindly reminded me, “You’ve had a whole year to figure this out.” Six months later, I’m still trying to figure it out. I do know I want to travel more and take time to pursue more interests, and I also know I want to be around for my grandkids. I’m looking for the right balance and the courage to let go of all the trappings of this culture I live in.
Although I haven’t figured out how or when, I do know my tuk-tuk riding days are not over. Before I left Asia, I already started thinking about things I would do differently on my next travel adventure. Here are a few ideas.
More time in each place, and more time overall. A year of travel sounds like a long time, but it really isn’t. Three weeks in a refugee camp seemed endless at times, but it was really just enough time to fall in love with the place. I know that I’d like to spend longer in places I volunteer next time. Months, not weeks. And if I do that, I will probably need more than a year. Hmm.
Step outside my comfort zone more often. I know it seems like I might have done a lot of this, but I really played it safe most of the time. Yes, I met amazing people, but I know I missed many opportunities for even more incredible adventures. I turned down too many invitations, avoided lots of social situations, and chose comfort and familiarity more often than not.
Take more photos. Again, it seems like I took a lot to most people, but I took a fraction of the photos others take, especially the photographers I met and follow. Some of this is laziness – just not feeling like taking my camera out. Much of it is still fear. I’ve gotten braver in taking photos, but there is still that moment of hesitation I have before taking a shot, and too often I yield to it.
A student from Laos texted me a picture of his exam results recently, an A+. When I think of the hardworking people I met during my travels, I have no excuse not to continue to work towards my goals.