13 Lessons I Learnt Backpacking Across South-East Asia

Last year I made the decision to go travelling on my own through south-east Asia;

I traveled through 8 different countries whilst I was there, made unbreakable bonds, shared incredible memories, and have plans to go back for a more permanent period of time next year.

I really just wanted to put this article together to explain some of the life lessons I’ve learnt along the way, regardless of whether you love to travel, or have never done so in your life.


13 Lessons I Learnt Backpacking Across South-East Asia

Here are 13 awesome lessons I learnt when I was backpacking through south-east Asia…


1. The Key to Happiness is Gratitude

There’s a common trend when you travel to countries in south-east Asia. Even though these countries might be poorer in comparison to us here in the UK or the US, people are generally happier.

You heard that right…

People with less income and lower living standards in Asia are generally happier, friendlier people.

Everything that’s going on right now in the UK with Brexit, and in the US with Trump’s rampage; it’s hard to hear the things some people are saying about immigrants here, when you’ve experienced the way they treat you in their own country.


2. The Biggest Sense of Fulfillment Comes From Connecting Yourself to the World

It’s a strange feeling when you think about it. When I was younger, I used to get home from a night out, look up at the stars and think about all the possibilities and things that were happening around the world.

When you connect with people who have had different upbringings to you, who can’t necessarily speak the same language, that’s an incredible feeling.

The further you delve into the unknown countryside and Islands of south-east Asia, the stronger this feeling gets.


3. Your Best Friends & Relationships Could Be Waiting For You Across the World

Seriously though…

How many of us just latch onto the people we find closest to us in life, whether it be friends or relationships?

Just because they live near us, they become our friends, girlfriends, boyfriends. There could be people half way across the world right now, who are your ideal circle of friends. Your ideal wife/husband could be 10,000 miles away right now, living a completely different life.

Have you ever thought about that?

I think about it all the time now…


4. We Don’t Need Materialistic S**t to Be Happy

I traded my Audi A3 for a little Vario 125 to ride around on…

…And I preferred it. In fact, I preferred not having all the stuff I was accustomed to. Even if that meant using a toilet in the alleyway behind the bar it belonged to, or having to crush a cockroach roaming around my room every morning when I woke up.

I don’t know why I preferred it. I guess it just gave me a higher sense of freedom than usual. It made me feel more grounded.

We don’t need materialistic s**t to be happy. And you can see that from the way people these countries feel on the whole. We just need good people, good times and good memories.


5. Freedom is Something We Can Never Put A Price on

For real though… we can never put a price on freedom. It’s far too valuable. The overwhelming feeling of freedom you get when you’re wandering through some of these amazing countries, is unbelievable.

What is freedom to you?

Is it the ability to travel the world whenever you like? Not having to answer to a boss? To be able to do what you love?

Whatever freedom means to you, go after it. No matter how much an employer is paying you, it’s not worth trading away your freedom for.


6. The Potential For Your Life is Much Greater than What it is Now

This statement is lethal.

But I’ll be honest. You could book a ticket to some random country, get on the plane, and within 3 months take your life to new heights. I’m not saying that’s exactly what’ll happen, but think of the possibilities!

The story is unwritten, the ending is unknown. That can either excite you or frighten you.

The potential for your life is unlimited, and that potential is waiting to be lived out. You can’t afford not to journey into the unknown.


7. Stories Make the World Go Around

Life is about stories…

It’s about having something to tell our future children. So no matter what you do, as long as you’ve got a story to tell at the end of it, well that’s one of the greatest joys of life right there.

It’s not about building wealth, getting that new car, or any of that other s**t. It’s about the memories and stories you’re able to share with the world. Everything else in life decays.

Think about it.


8. Being Uncomfortable Feels Amazing

New experiences are uncomfortable, that doesn’t mean they’re not amazing. Backpacking can be scary, especially when you’re going solo. Not knowing where you’re going, how to meet people, etc.

But when you get used to this level of discomfort, and having to throw yourself into these sorts of situations, it becomes addictive.

That’s when living out of a bag starts to become incredible…


9. Well Traveled People Are More Interesting

Sorry to be the one to say it, but the fact is that traveled people tend to have far more stories to share, and there also a lot more cultured than most.

The people with the most stories to share seem to be the most interesting, until of course they become the type of person to continuously repeat the same story over and over again.


10. Things Come & Go, Memories Last Forever

A lot of things come and go in life. The people we hang around with, the possessions we have, our careers…

Usually, things will come into our lives for a season, and then leave. It’s unlikely that they’ll stay forever. Yet there’s one thing that does last forever; and that’s all the memories of your life.

The important thing is to focus on making great memories, because in the end, that’s all that’ll be left. If you’re satisfied with your memories when you reach old age, you’re guaranteed to be happy.


11. Living Fast is Living Well

Travelers get used to living fast. Moving from place to place, meeting new people all the time, and making new memories every day.

This actually benefits you a lot, because it gets you into the state of mind where moving this quickly, and acting quickly becomes normal.

A lot of the time in life, we tend to move at a slow pace. We tend to wait for things, because we think there isn’t much that can be done about it. Yet when you get used to acting quickly, you cut out the waiting part.

You don’t mind getting out of your comfort zone and going after what you want,


12. People Appreciate What they Don’t Often Have

The one thing you’ll notice when you go to Asia is that people consider white skin to be beautiful. The whiter your skin, the more beautiful you are.


Well, because none of them have that skin color. It’s rare fr them to see. Whereas over here, we’re hate our pale skin, and desperately try to get a tan and make it darker.

People appreciate what they don’t often have, but forget to be grateful for what they already have. That’s definitely something to think about. The things that you have, the way you look; if you’re not happy with it, just remember that on the other side of the world they’d kill for it.


13. You Can’t Afford NOT to Travel

The best time to travel is obviously when you’re young and don’t have other commitments and responsibilities, such as partners, children, mortgages, stable careers and so on.

Yet a lot of people still say they can’t afford it. Honestly, it’s not that hard when you’re young to save up money to travel. You’re most likely still living with your parents, and if you’re working full time, it shouldn’t take long to save up the money you need.

Then again, if you’re a smoker, a party-goer and just love to keep purchasing materialistic s**t, that’s probably where all your money is going.

Don’t spend your hard earned cash on complete c**p and then complain about being skint.



A short recap on the 13 lessons I learnt backpacking through south-east Asia:

  • The key to happiness is gratitude
  • The biggest sense of fulfillment comes from connecting yourself to the world
  • Your best friends and relationships could be waiting for you across the world
  • We don’t need materialistic s**t to be happy
  • Freedom is something we can never put a price on
  • The potential for your life is much greater than what it is now
  • Stories make the world go around
  • Being uncomfortable feels amazing
  • Well traveled people are more interesting
  • Things come and go, memories last forever
  • Living fast is living well
  • People appreciate what they don’t often have
  • You can’t afford not to travel
  • Have anything to add to this article? Leave a comment below.

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