Last year, I set out on a road trip with barely half the money I needed, my backpack, and one of my best friends. It wasn’t my first road trip but it was the longest; 45 days of travel through 6 countries in W/A.
Sounds like a suicide mission? Close enough. I was at an all-time low and it wasn’t scary there was a chance that it could all go south.
Long bus rides on dirt roads under starry blue night skies, eating streetside food and sleeping in sometimes, unbelievable hotels.
I always expected that travel would change me, however, I couldn’t have correctly anticipated how. The travel culture portrayed especially on Instagram had me believe that travel would bring me immediate sage-level enlightenment and an abundance of eureka moments. And most importantly, inner peace. I did have revelation-filled meltdowns (oh I had plenty of this on the bus. Especially when I felt like we were going to tip over or worse 😂).
It’s not a lie, but I only realized how much had changed after my feet were firmly planted back in the “real world”. In the spirit of sharing, here are some of the lessons I learned
You Need To Declutter
I lived out of a backpack for 45 days. I didn’t know we were going to be gone for that long but I packed with a minimalist fail-proof list and it really did work. Why are you hanging on to clothes you haven’t worn in 3 years? I love a nice home where I can run a bubble bath and watch the sunset from my bed but travel taught me that the art of detaching myself from my belongings is a big deal in the self-development compartment. It made me realize how valueless my stuff was. My home, My fancy stuff, I was totally immersed in things, but in a flash, I was hustling in the streets. When you regularly declutter, you see possessions for what they really are. Temporary. Physical. Replaceable.
That act of being able to let go is cleansing and letting go of possessions is just as satisfying as owning them.
Your Life Doesn’t Have To Be Routine
Your life path does not have to be linear. I’ll never understand our generation’s rigid mentality on the way life must be lived. School, career, marriage, babies. If you can afford it chip in a vacation or 2. But where did this come from? Travelling long-term will help you realize that your life does not have to be so premeditated. (For your own sake have your complete money sha or a very solid back up plan)
I didn’t tell my Mother until my feet were on the red soil of Benin republic and conveniently never really mentioned my actual financial condition 😂😂 God forbid I give my mother hypertension. I had so many questions to answer, a couple of people wondered if I’d gone mad. (I equally wondered one night our bus broke down in the middle of the bush between Senegal and Mali. What was I doing on the road foggosake 😭)
Your experience in taking control of your life will help you live a richer and more rounded life because You’ll typically put yourself first. For me, this was perhaps one of the most life-changing lessons I discovered. I was taking bold steps and was totally ready to face the consequences.
Love Is The Greatest Language
On this same perilous bus to Senegal, we met Sarah; a food trader from Ivory Coast married to a Nigerian man. A phenomenal woman if you ask me. She got most of us on the bus to organize a bonfire that we danced around, despite that we were all muttering under our breaths, praying to our local deities to save us. You really don’t want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere by 11 pm. Interestingly, only a few people spoke a common language but that didn’t matter. She also gave everyone on the bus something to eat, we begged for drinking water from every car that passed and cared to stop. Most of them did, some handed out extras like fruits.
Love is a language and it is the greatest.
Traveling On A Budget Isn’t A Myth
You don’t need to be rich to travel, contrary to popular opinion. Just don’t be squeamish about the quality of the hotel and be a hard guy.
I remember we paid 15,000CFA (About 10k ) for a hotel in Burkina Faso and the bathroom did not have a door. The bedsheet wasn’t fresh and there were no pillows but we arrived at about 1 am, and we don’t speak french so we only miraculously found it. Public transport is equally really cheap, so is delicious roadside food. Watch out for food poisoning
The World Isn’t Actually That Big
This is hands down the craziest experience I had. We were on a boat heading to Ile De Goree from Dakar and I saw a cap that looked Yoruba. The unmistakable side folds my dad liked to wear also, I was curious. The man wearing it turned, and alas! My next-door neighbor all the way from Akure!
I probably saw him 10 years ago before then. You just might bump into your international tinder babe from Italy in Bali while vacationing with your wife Femi, be careful 😂.