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Younes Hairej


10 Things I learned Traveling More Than 40 Countries

“Traveling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” ― Ibn Battuta,

I love to travel. I like the smell of the streets in Bangkok, the walking in the sook in Fes, the gazing at the Great Sphinx, the chocolate tasting in Bruges, and of course, the random talks at the departure gates.

Here are 10 of the 100 things I learned while traveling.

    1. We have more in common

    We have more in common than we think, whether we live in Amsterdam, Christmas island, or Dubai. People are driven by fear, greed, and love—a parent cares for their children no matter the place.

    The circumstances change, but the smile, the tears, the laughter, and the shouts are similar.

    2. Everything is negotiable

    I miss bargaining to buy a T-shirt. I realized that the art of bargaining is an art of living. I learned a lot about negotiation from traveling. In some places, from the moment you land, you are negotiating; the taxi, the hotel room that could not confirm your booking, the call center guy trying to help you with your booking, and so on. Enjoy it!

    3. The importance of adaptability

    Adaptability is a critical quality to have and especially when traveling.

    If you can adjust, you will enjoy the experience fully.

    If you expect your shower’s water pressure to be like home, and if you are not comfortable sleeping on the floor in the desert, you may not enjoy the experience fully.

    I have seen people complaining about things and missing the point :)

    I am not sure if this falls under adaptability. Having lived in Japan for a long time, I am used to hearing announcements for departures or arrivals many times at train stations and airports. But this is not the case in many places. I have missed my plan several times in Europe because I missed the announcements. Of course, it was my fault for not checking :)

    Travel can get you out of your comfort zone. Let it do.

    4. The importance of being present

    “So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that.” Good Will Hunting

    It took me a while to resist the temptation to take photos of every corner. It is important to stop and appreciate everything about the place; the smell, the paintings, the drawings, the people, the hustles and bustles. It is important to immerse in space and time. Because only then can you write a 10 idea list about how you felt when you were there :)

    5. The importance of being resourceful

    What do you do when your credit card gets blocked, your connecting flight gets delayed, and you must stay 6 hours at the airport?

    Traveling helps you be more resourceful. You want to make the best of your trip, so you learn to ask, explore, and act.

    6. It is not in the books, it is in the streets

    One of my favorite things when traveling is to stroll the local markets or souk. Local markets tell you more about people than any history museum or books. Locals know the best barber, seafood place, and the coolest bar.

    7. A smile can make your day, so smile back

    “Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” — Mother Teresa

    We may look different, but the souls connect when you smile.

    8. The antifragility

    Traveling is full of random events; diarrhea, missing a train, bad exchange rate, etc. Every trip makes you stronger; you are more confident, better prepared, and cashless until you forget your PIN. And then you have stories to tell at the bar ;)

    9. The storytelling

    You have more stories to tell. The meat you thought was chicken but turned out to be a crocodile, the heated discussion with a Barcelona fan about Ronaldo, etc.

    10. The gratitude

    The realization that we live in an amazing and abundant world. And that “Our raw imperfections make us real and make us human, but they don’t make us.” — Jay McLean

    11. Things are not exactly what they look, sometimes

    Long ago, when I was active on FB, I posted a nice photo in Fiji, people thought I had an amazing time, but I was working most of the time, missing the sun :)

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