12 months, 12 trips, 12 lessons (that no school will teach you)

Photo of 12 months, 12 trips, 12 lessons (that no school will teach you) 1/1 by Nancy Johri
My one year in one picture

Like every year, last year too I took 12 trips (one trip every month). Each journey was different from the other; absolutely unique in itself. I have learnt a lot from travelling that no educational institution instilled in me. It has taught me something wonderfully beautiful yet very simple- to have gratitude for every single day of my life. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I never traveled.

I have learnt tons of lessons from travelling, but there are 12 that I know I will never forget. If this list doesn’t make you want to get up and see the world, then I think nothing will.


Photo of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Nancy Johri

Lesson 1- You’re a lot more capable than you ever thought you could be.

This trip made me witness a series of unfortunate events. First of all, my only co-traveler cancelled the trip just a night before the journey. Having an experience of just one solo trip at that time, I had to make a choice- to go ahead alone or sit back with gloomy face. I chose the former. A lot of unexpected incidents happened during the trip ranging from losing my shoes in Kufri to missing the last bus to Shimla. I panicked, got scared, and thought myself to be the biggest fool for going there on my own with no experience of solo trips. Moreover, the dark night and chilly weather increased my problems. I was alone on the unlit streets. Realizing that having negative thoughts and fear will not help me in any way, I gathered courage and did what I needed to do. I faced all these challenges on my own and came out of it alone.

Now when I think about all that, it amazes me that I have done some of the things which I could never think of. Now, I know that no matter what challenge is thrown at me, I am capable of accomplishing and rising.

P.S. This trip taught me the true meaning of ‘Beg, Borrow or Steal”.


Photo of Prashar Lake, D.P.F. Parashar Dhar, Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Nancy Johri

Lesson 2- Be humble whenever possible.

Written by Gustave Flaubert, “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” is among my favorite quotes. I recollected this thought while I was scaling the heights to reach Prashar Lake, which is located at a height of 2,730 meters above sea level. I got to see 180 degree view of the Dhauladhar, Pir Panjal and Kinnaur mountain ranges. These mountains, standing tall, were so huge in front of me that it made me think that my life’s troubles are nothing in front of these powerful marvels of nature. I consider mountains as a symbol of strength and power, and when I compare the setbacks of my life with these natural creations, then I start to understand that our everyday problems aren’t really “problems”. We all should be like mountains- mighty, yet modest. The more I think like that, the more I become emotionally strong and humble towards the people I meet.


Photo of Ranthambore, Khilchipur, Rajasthan, India by Nancy Johri

Lesson 3- Optimism brings you good luck.

Though not a believer of luck, but still I have always seen that the more I think positive, the more I see my wishes getting fulfilled. Disheartened at not being able to spot any tiger in Jim Corbett, this time I thought of trying my luck at Ranthambore National Park. The whole time, my mind was occupied with a single thought- to see a tiger. I was completely convinced that this time, my wish will definitely get fulfilled. I was already feeling happy about it. Finally, the day came when we got to go on the safari, and I am glad that I didn’t return disappointed. I was thinking that I would be fortunate enough to spot just one tiger, but I saw three of them!!! How, that’s a long story. Why, well I believe that happened because of my strong positive thinking. The only way to attract positive outcomes in your life is to think positive.



Photo of Meghalaya, India by Nancy Johri

Lesson 4- Fearlessness wins.

Going through a rough patch at that time, I took a solo trip to ‘The abode of clouds’. Along with cherishing the picturesque beauty of the place, I was more interested in doing adventure activities there. So, I went to Shnongpdeng- The hub of thrilling activities.

I booked my slot for five activities- Kayaking, Zip Line, Cliff Jumping, Snorkeling and Scuba Diving. Being a non-swimmer, I was a little scared of going into the water even after wearing life jacket. I did all the activities, and found cliff jumping to be the best because jumping from height into the water was something that terrified me at that moment. After a lot of cheering and motivation from the instructor, finally I jumped off the cliff, and guess what; it turned out to be the most blissful thing that I had experienced in a while. After that one jump, I got so excited and did nearly 10 jumps. Every time, I experienced the same kick.

In short, facing your fear is very important. Of course, the unknown can be scary. Travelling, and especially adventure activities, puts you in such circumstances that demand you to be more present in the moment and take things as they approach. There’s always going to be some nervousness associated with leaving your comfort zone and do what frightens you. But in the end, if you are able to come out successfully of the fear of the unknown, then the anxiety will prove to be more exciting and joyous.



Photo of Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh, India by Nancy Johri

Lesson 5- The joy, sometimes, is in the simplest beauty.

“Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder” holds true for Kasauli for which, majority of the people think that there is nothing much to see. This cantonment and town located in Solan, Himachal Pradesh is a paradise for bird watchers, flora lovers and trekkers. I got to witness beauty at its best in Kasauli while having an ideal and peaceful holiday. Before going, my friends said, "There is nothing in Kasauli; nobody goes there". Believe me, you will have among the best trips of your life there when you will find yourself in the middle of spectacular landscape and serenity. This particular trip told me how to take delight in simple things that life is offering me.



Photo of Maharashtra, India by Nancy Johri

Lesson 6- The best things in life are free of cost.

Standing in front of a beach for the first time was a priceless feeling for me. My first reaction when I was face to face with the Kashid beach was- Wow, this is so huge! Never ever had I witnessed a water body so gigantic where all I could see was water; not a single per cent of anything else in between. The sky above it was like a bed sheet of silk covering it; keeping it safe. The massiveness of the sea and this form of natural beauty was totally new for me. The horizon appeared to me like a line of nickel-silver. The waves were rippling strongly, the sound of which was soothing me. I could see them flipping into the air like popping popcorn. The sun-bleached sand crystals were warming my feet comfortably. The air was laden with a light smell of salt that you cannot feel anywhere else apart from a beach. It was having a hypnotizing effect on me and I wished to go to that place where the sun and the water met. All this together was having a calming effect on me, and I was glad to get away from the hurly-burly and stresses of life. The beach I was sauntering on was an enchanting paradise. I got so engrossed looking at it that I could hardly thought about anything else, about any other phase of my life, about anyone or anything else making me sad or happy. It was impossible for me to think about something else that was not present there on the beach in front of me. I was in the state of absolute happiness, living in the moment. It was a skin-tingling experience to witness. I wanted to carry the firm, soft and comforting beach back with me so that I can have these kinds of thoughts again and again. So, I was looking at it as much as possible and for as long as possible in order to capture the ecstasy in my eyes.

Do you think that buying a grand mansion or a luxury car can ever give you this kind of contentment that lasts forever? Maybe not!



Photo of Chail, Himachal Pradesh, India by Nancy Johri

Lesson 7- Live in the moment.

Curiosity and elation took me to this charming place, and filled me with unlimited memorable moments. The silence and tranquility of Chail let you focus on your thoughts. This can be your perfect getaway to unclutter your ideas and think straight. The beauty of the place will not let you think about anything else. You yourself would want to smile at simple joys of life. Travelling teaches you to be conscious, and be in the present with all of your senses. You will learn that no anxiety or worry about the future is powerful enough to make you sad.



Photo of Udaipur, Rajasthan, India by Nancy Johri

Lesson 8- The world isn’t as scary as you’ve been lead to believe.

Absolutely new to the concept of hostels for travelers in India, I booked a bunk bed in a dormitory room for this solo trip. I was scared with the fact that I will be sharing room with others. I was tensed thinking what I will do if I feel unsafe with them. It was hard to not start thinking that the entire world is a dangerous and scary place. But the reality is different from that. Of course it is mandatory to be extra cautious and take special precautions when travelling alone or staying with unknown people, but you don’t need to worry all the time. Strangers turn into good friends quite often. Danger is always out there, but travelling has taught me that I don’t need to let my fear inhibit me.

P.S. I met an amazing girl at the hostel with whom I went for an international trip later :)



Photo of Uttarakhand, India by Nancy Johri

Lesson 9- Leaving your comfort zone will surprise you.

Would you ever like to leave your soft and comfy bed to go on a hard trek on a hot summer day? Would you happily leave the comfort of the perfect living conditions to challenge your limits? If no, then you should. Traveling will be your best teacher when you want to see how far you can go.

I love hiking. So, I volunteered for Nag Tibba trekking that included going with four dogs. It is the highest peak (9,915 feet) in the Nag Tibba range of the Garhwal Himalayas. Of course the dogs were accompanied by their owners, but we as volunteers had to make sure that everything goes right. Climbing a mountain with soaring temperature is in itself a tough job, and going with the dogs was definitely tougher. Moreover, we had to carry our heavy hiking bags too. At one point of time, I was so tired that I didn’t want to go further. I just wanted to sit then and there only without moving ahead a single inch. But then, I got up knowing that the view I will be witnessing at the top is incomparable. I couldn’t afford to miss that!!

Travelling will teach you that everything striking and miraculous lies on the other side of your comfort zone. You just need to give yourself a little push, and you will see how splendid everything is. Never let the nervousness connected with leaving a comfy place overpower the joy associated with a new place. Don’t stop, move, even if you are slow. Forging ahead is important.



Photo of Bir, Himachal Pradesh, India by Nancy Johri

Lesson 10- Trying new things gives immense pleasure.

Have you ever booked a one-way ticket only? If not, try at least once. The amount of joy and liberty that it gives you is unparalleled. You don’t need to follow a fixed itinerary. Just go wherever and whenever your heart says. No need to come back until and unless you really want to. Cover as much destinations as possible, explore the unknown, fall in love. Return home when you are entirely satisfied.

I experienced all of this in my trip to Bir. I did paragliding there, enjoyed the soothing weather, relished the rain, took long walks at night, and a lot more. To summarize, I simply fell in love with all of that. Don’t you think getting seized by such lovely moments and to be able to feel like a free soul is among the best experiences of life?


Photo of Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Nancy Johri

Lesson 11- The key to happiness is in your own pocket.

This is among the most powerful lessons that I have learnt from travelling. Most of the people live their whole life depending on some other person to make them happy. They need someone else to validate their existence. But this is something impossible as that person will not be able to make you happy all the time. He/she may have some other important tasks to do that require his/her urgent attention, and you simply just can’t expect everything to go according to you.

Travelling teaches you that you yourself are very much capable of fulfilling all your wishes. You don’t have to cling to somebody else all the time to cheer you. You are self-dependent, and no other person can understand your needs more than yourself. You can do anything and everything. Just have faith in yourself. Travel solo more often. While I was roaming amidst the scenic beauty of Dharamshala without anyone by my side, I was quite content within myself. Of course we all love our close ones and we should do every bit to keep them happy, but all I am saying is that the only person you should depend on to give you happiness should be the one whom you see in mirror.


Photo of Sri Lanka by Nancy Johri

Lesson 12- Appreciating and learning from another culture enhances your knowledge.

What you learn in textbooks during schooling is completely different from having a firsthand experience when you visit another country. Whether you are having a peaceful amble across art museums, glancing at popular architectural spots, or even just sipping your favorite drink in a happening pub, travelling exposes you to the natives and their lifestyles that are totally diverse from anything you encounter back at home. Few days in another country, you will start appreciating the local customs, people and food.

During my vacation in Sri Lanka, I was very much impressed by the locals. People are friendly and helpful there, especially waiters at restaurants, who use to talk with a bright smile on their face when you ask them about different food items. This is something that everyone should learn.


Photo of 12 months, 12 trips, 12 lessons (that no school will teach you) by Nancy Johri

I wish you a wonderful year ahead full of happy travels :)

From Pondicherry to Philippines, from MP to Andaman Islands, I travelled to these 12 places in 2018

12 Trips in 12 Months: Here's how I explored 6 Indian States and 1 European Country in 2019

If this hasn’t inspired you enough, then you should check out my Instagram page strolling_shoes and follow my adventures around the world!

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