I quietly celebrated 10 years of vagabonding travel in January 2016. As part of the personal celebration, I reread my original travel journal (a one-kilogram tome!) and was shocked. I barely recognized the handwriting, not to mention the author behind those intimate thoughts.

Needless to say, reading that first journal was quality entertainment. It was also an epiphany of just how unpredictable this crazy life really is. Many times I laughed and shouted, “What were you thinking?!”

Without further ado, these are the first-to-mind lessons that I wish I had known back in 2006 when beginning a new life:

  • The first week is the toughest. Push through.
  • The shyness of traveling alone goes away.
  • You attract people and experiences depending on the type of energy you put out.
  • You will nearly die a few times in order to really live. The price is worth it, but sleep will be affected.
  • Goodbyes get harder, not easier.
  • You will see home with a completely new set of eyes.
  • There’s no such thing as a must-see place or landmark unless it really interests you. You’re the boss.
  • You will lose close friends at home, ones you never thought possible to lose. Personal change will make you incompatible but there won’t be bad blood.
  • Time is completely subjective. And relative.
  • After only a week of knowing someone, it is possible to fall in love, move in together, and talk of a future.
  • Answering only to yourself really calibrates your moral compass.
  • Reality is subjective. Everyone has an opinion. The only way to learn the truth is to go touch it.
  • Clean out the storage unit: you aren’t coming back!

If you’re beginning a new life of location independence, take heed. I swear upon the parasites in my bowels that all these lessons hold true.

You bought the ticket, so be prepared for a ride. But what I wish I had known is that we get to determine how the tracks are laid out.

Don’t just meander and bemoan being a victim. Start making choices.