Travel tips

32 Lessons On The Road

Deciding to go to Istanbul on my own when I was 16 still remains one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Travelling is the thing that has taught me the most about the world, about connection, about humanity, and, crucially, about myself. I hope this little collection of lessons I’ve learnt so far can provide some insight into what it’s like to live and love on the road.

Love, Sophia x


    1. You will fall in love. And it is likely your love will be deep; the experiences you will share and the challenges you will face together are going to be some of the most intense and beautiful in your life.
    2. And you will have your heart broken. Things on the road change. Fast. You split off to go your separate paths: whether that’s a different travel plan, or the reality of having to go back home to the other side of the planet.
    3. But sometimes you have to leap. And trust that your wings will grow on the way down. Some loves are worth taking a big risk for. You’ll find a connection that makes you think- heck yes I’ll miss my flight home, turn back and cross the ocean into another continent (again), then wonder around town asking locals if they’ve seen the guy you’re looking for. In fact, you may even find a connection that you’re willing to throw away half your budget for, and cross to the other side of the world, even if everything is unclear and nothing is certain. TRUST love. TRUST how you feel. I urge you to TRUST the bright, excited light that buzzes and glows inside you. You might just create something beautiful. 
    4. Things go wrong. Very wrong. You’ll get ill. Probably go to hospital at some point. You’ll lose things. Sometimes you’ll lose your entire backpack containing every single belonging you hold to your name (except your passport, phone and hairbrush). Your flight won’t exist. Your host will try to grope you. A wild rabid pack of dogs will chase you. But it’s worth it at the end of the day.
    5. You’ll change your plans. You’ll meet someone (refer to point 1) and end up accidentally crossing the world to have a cup of tea with them. No biggie. Just go with it.
    6. So it’s best not to make plans.
    7. You will learn to love the simple things. A cup of tea savoured in the afternoon sun will be the ‘event of the day’. You’ll learn to love the can of chickpeas you have each dinner, the cardboard sheets that become your bed each night.
    8. And you will become so much more grateful.
    9. You will feel lonely. You will cry. You will miss your best friend.
    10. But you never have to be alone. All you have to do is start a conversation. Or, simply: smile.
    11. Generally, the world is safe. There are far more good people than bad. Almost every single person you meet will want to help you. And many people will go above and beyond.
    12. But you will probably get sexually harassed at some point. And, often, there’s not much you can do about it. The police, unfortunately, don’t want to know.
    13. And it will frustrate you that women (and animals) are treated like crap in some places. It will shock and anger you to witness it, to experience it.
    14. You will want to take the animals home. You might even go ahead and do it: you might take a kitten in from the streets and nurse it at a hostel, like I did for a while.
    15. You will always find somewhere to sleep. Don’t panic: you’ll sleep somewhere, even if it means going round asking strangers at 11pm if you can crash in their garden (hot tip: people say yes!)
    16. Listen to the people who’ve been themselves. People back home have random crazy stereotypes about places and no clue what it’s really like. Talk to the people who’ve been there themselves (recently) and trust their judgement over the fear of people back home. Even countries in the midst of war can often be visitable, so listen to locals, not fear.
    17. It’s awesome to go without internet/your phone. Don’t be that traveller that spends more time documenting their travels (cough snapchat cough) than experiencing them. Taking a chunk of time completely off the internet and your phone is really rewarding.
    18. Smile. Being around happy people MAKES ME happy. Happiness is infectious. As is a smile!
    19. It’s great to know a bit of the local language. People’s faces light up in delight when you try it out.
    20. But you don’t have to. Kindness and generosity, laughter and hugs, these things aren’t bound by language.
    21. You’ll become more assertive. You learn to speak openly and honestly. To be forward. To believe in the power of your own feelings, opinions and voice. To stand up for yourself.
    22. And better at making decisions.
    23. And better at listening to your gut/intuition. All. The. Time. Your gut feeling becomes your best friend. Whether it’s a feeling to pursue love, or a feeling that your host isn’t all they seem, you learn to size up people and situations quickly and then trust your intuition. 
    24. You’ll learn how to haggle. And it’s very fun. And very addictive.
    25. You’ll do random shit you never imagined you’d try. Beekeeping, waterskiing, driving a speedboat, seeing live tennis opens, learning (ish, very ish) pool… you’ll end up learning so many new things, trying so much for the first time.
    26. Couchsurfing is awesome. It always astounds me how incredibly open, generous and welcoming humans can be. The feeling of being adopted into a total stranger’s family and friendship circle for no reason other than kindness of heart is beautiful to experience.
    27. But meeting other travellers in hostels is, too.
    28. Eitherway, you’ll meet the most incredible people. People with the most incredible stories and lives, who will inspire you, challenge you, and nourish your growth.
    29. The world is huge. And the more places you go, the more travellers you chat to, the more you want to explore it. And the longer your bucketlist grows.
    30. But everywhere is essentially the same. The breeze ripples through the trees’ leaves the same wherever they are, laughter sounds the same regardless of nationality or race, people want the same things in life.
    31. Not everyday on the road is fun. You’ll (probably, I’ve not had this moment yet, but I’m sure it’ll come) question and doubt yourself. You’ll wonder what the heck you’re doing (to be fair, the thought has crossed my mind). Everyone at home is continuing down the conveyor belt we were all plonked on as kids in primary school, yet you’ve chosen to break off. Am I crazy? (The answer, by the way, is no). 
    32. You will have the time, and the journey, of your life. Travelling will absolutely rock your world!

3 thoughts on “32 Lessons On The Road

  1. YOU are so inspiration. I am constantly inspired by you, your journey and your story. Forever an inspiration. Hope your having an amazing time! Hopefully our paths will cross when I jet off!

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