As I sit in the airport waiting for my flight to Viet Nam with my eyes half-closed, this is what I’ve managed to remember after having traveled pretty often:
- I can pack lightly and quickly. I learned how to fit a week’s worth of essentials into one backpack and still have room for a package of dates.
- Some things just need to be let go. Like the pair of boots that finally fell apart after a night out. There will be other boots. Tangibility does not necessarily mean that I’ll remember the memories with a particular item.
- Always carry snacks. Preferably your favorite chocolate that your friends got you for your birthday.
- Always carry headphones. Super useful when you want to drown out your surroundings or when you want to perfect a moment with a carefully selected track.
- Always arrive to the airport early. Don’t show up for an international flight half an hour before the flight leaves and expect to make it past the 50 people waiting to get through security in front of you.
- Always dress comfortably. Bring a jacket, scarf and pillow. Don’t forget socks. Sweatpants are ideal except if your mom requested that you dress up to impress your family members that you haven’t seen in 10 years.
- Don’t rush to try and be the first person to get on the plane. There’s no point because people will just literally overlook and step on you. Might as well chill as long as you can.
Things that I never manage to remember despite having traveled pretty often:
- You might not love every place you travel to. You might not love every experience you have, even if it feels like you’re supposed to love them.
- You also never know when you’ll fall in love with a place. It just hits you in a random moment, and then you can hold onto that moment forever. It hit me today when I took my last auto rickshaw ride back to my hotel after meeting a friend for lunch. I had my headphones in and was singing really loudly, watching Bangalore pass me by. Everything just seemed so endearing to me during that ride. I wish I had taken rickshaws more often.
- You can’t try to get work done when you have limited time in a place. I still have a 10 page research paper to finish by tomorrow. I’ve been trying really hard this week to work on it, but there were always people to spend time with and to say goodbye to. Tomorrow’s going to be a long day.
- I suck at goodbyes. I’m either super emotional or super cold. I can express myself much better in writing especially when it comes to emotional stuff. But even then, more than anything, I wish I could just give people my emotions because words are completely inadequate when you’re trying to thank people for opening their homes and hearts to you, a complete stranger.
- Sleep is important. You can’t fully enjoy things when you are sleep-deprived, even if there’s this mindset that you’ll only have this moment once.
- “Home” is a very significant word. You know it’s serious when you refer to your hotel as “home.” As in, “Are you headed home to nap now?”
- You never really leave a place behind. You never realize just how many people touched your life until you are about to leave. You take with you the smells, sights, sounds of the city, the traffic that doesn’t give a damn about lanes and signs, the raw honesty, the random cows that own the streets, the evening rain, the friendships you’ve made, the things you can’t remember and the things you’ll always remember.