I was born and bred in Sydney, Australia, and by all accounts I’ve lived a relatively charmed life. I didn’t know this at age 20, when I travelled overseas for the first time - I just thought it would be fun to try something new.
I quickly realised that the comfort of home was a privilege, and not something that all are afforded. All of a sudden everything was put into perspective - the things that I thought were important were not, and the ‘problems’ I had were quite literally First World Problems.
Those very first life lessons keep me coming back for more. I want to travel to places that are different in every way to my home country; I want to learn about and appreciate the world’s cultures, cuisines and history, and focus on the simple things in life - the joys that money can’t buy.
Here are the lessons I’ve learned on the road well travelled, from the busy neon streets of Tokyo to the narrow cobblestone laneways of Cuba:
Whatever problem you have right now can and will be solved. You have a roof over your head, food in your belly and clothes on your back. Not everyone in the world can say that, but you have all those things. Your life will be fine.
I once met a family of eight in rural Vietnam who survive on $50 a month. The grandmother of the family said that she didn’t need more. They were some of the happiest people I’ve ever come across, because they valued each other more than the money in their pocket.
The majority of the meals I’ve had a foodgasm over were cooked and served either on the street or in a very unassuming shopfront, using no more than 5ish ingredients. It’s the kind of food that’s cooked with love, a secret family recipe, and gut feeling. No cookbooks required.
Sometimes Western culture can lack in the generation department - when we move out of home, we make little time for our parents, and even less for our grandparents. However in countries like Japan, Colombia and Fiji, family comes first. Up to three generations can live in the same household and respect for elders is #1.
Roughing it isn’t pretty, but being pretty isn’t the point! Your style is in who you are - how you carry yourself, the way you treat others, and what you believe in - not what you wear. By all means, go ahead and look cute for Instagram but don’t forget that the whole idea of travelling is to enjoy the experience, not get the shot!
Emma Chow is the co-host of the Mike E & Emma breakfast show on The Edge 96.ONE. She loves sharing her latest food, travel and fitness finds with anyone who will listen. Instagram: @emmaechow Twitter: @emmaechow
The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.