For most of us, we aren't going to travel all our lives and doing a long trip is usually unique.
Two people can do exactly the same journey and have a totally different experience at the end. Your state of mind is the most important thing that is going to shape your trip.
Like all travellers, I want to have crazy memories, I want to be grateful forever, I want stories to tell my kids... and I'm working on it everyday.
Here is a list of tips I can give you after almost 10 months of traveling.
1) Challenge yourself everyday
"Take risk, nothing can substitute an experience" Paolo Cuelho
Traveling is the best way to get out your comfort zone. Getting out of this zone will bring you more opportunities and discover how big is "life's potential". I wasn't thinking about swimming in the highest pool in the world or with piranhas when I started traveling, I was to scared. But this kind of action where you surpass yourself is what will make your trip unforgettable and the best way to develop yourself.
It is not supposed to be a crazy challenge. Just go and talk to people in the street if you have a question, have a run in the beach barefoot, take a cold shower...
The rule is simple: if it scary for you but not dangerous, do it.
2) Meet locals
Even if you don't speak the local language, smile and try to meet locals. I will always remember when an Indonesian guy spent 1minute to ask me if I wanted a coconut. After I said yes, he climbed this huge palmtree to collect coconuts for me and my friends. We stayed maybe one hour with him and his family, trying to communicate through sign language. It is one of the best moments I have experienced so far.
Sometimes, you are also able to have real conversations in English or Spanish. So you will realise how your version of life is different from theirs, and start opening your mind...
3) Travel only with people you have a good connection with
Traveling alone seems hard for a lot of people. But I can tell you that traveling alone is the easiest way to travel. You are so free, you can go wherever you want and most of all, you can choose the people you want to share your time with. This is really important. The quality of your travel depends a lot on the people you are traveling with. When people ask me about the best place I have been, I usually say Indonesia. But I know that my answer would be different if I hadn't spent my time with the people I was with.
Feel free to leave on your own, you will meet new friends very easily.
4) Know why you want to travel and what you want to get from it
As my friend Angie said in the article "The people we meet", we are all traveling for some reason.
"Why are you traveling? To get experience, because I'm curious..."
But what do you want to experience? What do you want to know?
I think it's important to ask yourself about the reasons you want to travel. You can also write it down, it is going to guide you along your trip.
Certain persons call this phenomena "the law of attraction", if you know what you want, you will see that life will help you to get it.
5) Respect your body
Travelling is really tiring. But we must have energy to make the most of the trip. For that, there are two very important points for me:
Respecting your sleep and eating healthy.
It's crazy how a trip can differ between people who eat badly and people who eat healthy.
This is because healthy people have more energy, as a result they can gain more experiences.
I also remember that, apart from in India, the only times I have been sick was because of these 2 factors: lack of sleep and unhealthy eating during some days.
So remember that "you are what you eat", respect yourself and make the most of your days.
6) Don't judge a book by its cover
"Image is powerfull, but also... Image is superficial" Cameron Russel
For most of them, Budhism is a nice religion while Islam is supposed to be a little bit scary.
I think I've meet people from almost everywhere in the world now.
I can tell you that you can't judge somebody because of their origin, religion or appearence...
Meet a lot of people and try not to have prejudice before talking to them. It is hard, but you will be surprised to realize that you can have very good conversations with people you usually wouldn't talk to.
7) Go with the flow
Some travelers know from the beginning what is going to be their itinirary for the next few months and they follow it very seriously. I think that it reassures them but it is also for me a big mistake. Don't plan everything, stay in the places you feel good, listen to other travelers to inspire yourself and leave your guidebook behind. Laos and Cambodia were not on my list, I went there following some people and I'm grateful today to have been able to change my plan and discover these two beautiful countries.
Be flexible and stop trying to control everything.
8) Don't have expectation
It was maybe my biggest mistake before going to Australia. People told me "you will see, Australians are very friendly they are going to invite you in their house easily". My expectation about Australians was definitely to high. Actually, Australia has been the hardest place in the world to find somebody to host me. I remember myself exhausted and so disappointed in the streets of Melbourne after asking maybe 100 people to host me.
After that, I went to New Zealand. Without any expectations about the landscape which was supposed to be nice as well as the people. Coincidence or not, the first people I met in New Zealand hosted me for my first two days and I discovered the awesome nature of the country after that.
Just don't expect anything about places or people, and let yourself be surprised.
9) Read the signs of life
Yes, "The Alchemist" is one of my favourite books.
Have you ever experienced what we usually call "coincidence" or "power of manifestation"? When you are thinking about someone you havn't seen for a long time, and you coincidentally see them that afternoon. Believing and following these kind of signs will make your life richer and more spiritual, especially when you travel.
10) Be grateful
Traveling is a chance. Most girls who travel keep a diary to remember the places they have been. Thanks to a French psychologist I have recently listened to on TEDx (see the video of the conference in french at the end of the article), I also started to write a "gratitude diary". As a result I now write 3 things from the day for which I'm grateful before sleeping. It reminds me how amazing the experience is.
For me, the most important tip of this article is to realize how lucky you are everyday, and start cultivating this powerful feeling of gratitude.