I have had the good fortune to travel to many parts of the world – for a few days in some cases and a few months in others. The places that I visited for a day or two, to attend a conference don’t count in the context of this blogpost. I never really saw those places in those times. In my time, I have ridden on a camel with a company of touregs in Mali, I have negotiated for trinkets over tea in Turkey. I have been chased by gun totting teenagers in South Sudan and I have sat among skulls and bones in Rwanda.
In Moldova, I lit a candle in a monastry that is in fact a cave and in yet another cave in Arizona (See video above) I cried because I saw God’s wonder. In Poland I attended church under a dome made of pure gold. I have gone up the alps to 3000 metres (9842 ft) and had coffee at the top.
When I started traveling, it was because like many other young people my age, I wanted to see the world. For me, I had this insatiable desire to see how other people lived. The stories I care to tell of my travels are about real people that I met. I could tell the story of 12 year old Yista, whom we found in the hot sand in Darfur in 2003, having been mutilated by warring soldiers who were not much older than her. I could talk about Maysie and Dumbeye – siblings from Chad who had gone to Gao in Mali so that they could be smuggled to Europe by the touregs – through the desert and the Mediterranean. I hear they lied in Europe that they were from Haiti or something and got asylum.
I could talk about that lady that I met who has lit a candle in church just about every single day of her 89 years – first with her father as a child and when I met her, with her grandchildren. I could talk about watching a hand being cut off in Saudi Arabia or I could tell you about the gun market in Mogadishu. I was in the market in Mogadishu, at a place and time when guns were easily found. As I strolled about admiring the gleaming machines, I heard an AK47 (I think) being cocked and shots rang out. I dived down under a stall and hid – only to find the owner of the store staring at me bemused. A gun was being tested – it was the gun market.
The thing that traveling has done for me is that it has made me aware of the vastness of our world. The people that I have met have added immeasurably to my life – through their stories because they taught me much about life. I learnt that not everyone who seems poor is. I learnt that there is great wisdom in the old way of doing things. I learnt that muslims, hindus, buddhists, christians and all others believe the same things about how to live with each other. You simply cannot travel and maintain prejudice.
I am a big advocate of traveling, I think everyone who can should.
Why? Because every place has a story that makes it that way. Knowing that story makes you understand other people better. Tribalism, Faith-ism and Racism would greatly be reduced if we all traveled a lot more.
Here are some tips from my experience:
- Loose your fear.
- Pick a destination that you can afford – spend time on such sites as Booking.com, Expedia, Jovago and Airbnb, see what is easy for you to save up for. I know you may want to go to the major destinations globally – Paris, for example, but it may be more within your power to go to Kampala. So do that first. Read about the places including what you should be careful about
- Book early. When you book for airtickets with weeks to spare, it always helps to keep the travel costs down.
- Travel by road more. If you are young (or young at heart), take the bus to South Africa. Its way cheaper and you will have a glimpse of all the countries in between. As often as you can, stop in a little cafe and have a tea or a soda. While there, chat with the people there.
- Carry a diary and a set of pens. Carry a few good books.
- Open your mind. Be open to discovery and to any kind of experience. There’s always a lot of unexpected things that occur in journeys
- When you get there, make a friend – or ten.