Solo Travel Learnings: Bravery and Honesty

I just came back from a 5-day solo trip in Beijing. I learned a lot about myself during this trip. Most remarkably, I learned the importance of bravery and honesty.

Traveling alone, I quickly realized how tough it is to make one’s own decisions. I had to determine if people were trustworthy, restaurants were clean, and areas were safe. Back home, these decisions are far less complex as I have access to varying perspectives from family, friends and mentors.

I began to use my senses and emotions to guide me in my decision making.

On the first day, two women approached me and starting making small talk. They were really friendly and they helped me find a pharmacy to buy the fever meds I needed. However, the whole situation seemed peculiar. I held my judgements as I was still unlearned on the culture.

Their english was really good – better than most of the other Chinese natives. This raised a suspicion. Secondly, when I’d ask them about their background, they’d quickly change the topic. I sensed some nervousness there. And when we left the pharmacy, they suggested we go find a place to drink tea. They pointed down a less lit, less populated side-street.

At that point, seeing myself getting baited into a mugging situation, I quickly faked an urgent phone call and left.

When I got back to my hotel, I did some research and found that tea scams are huge in Beijing. Natives bait foreigners into tea shops where the foreigner is pressured to shell out hundreds/thousands of dollars on tea. The natives are most likely affiliated with the tea shops.

I’m grateful for listening to my intuition in that situation. And I don’t regret engaging with them because next time, I’ll be able to approach situations like that far more tactfully.

My intuition helped me again when I was scouting for some local food. When I finally found a restaurant that I felt was clean, my gut told me to examine the bathroom. And finally, when I had food on the table, I made sure to smell the food closely and eat extra slow. This helped me better gauge the safety of the food.

I realized that as long as I’m brave and honest with myself, my intuition will lead the way. And the more I trust my intuition, the better I’ll become at listening to it.

Bravery and Honesty

When we’re brave, we do more. Doing more is the scientific method in action. We test, refine and repeat. This is the path to success.

When we’re honest, we face our emotions head on. We minimize excuses and over-dramatization. We reflect, forgive and march on. This is the path to self-awareness.

And when bravery and honesty are coupled, we become resilient. We ask questions that propel us forward:

  • Did I give it my best shot?
  • What’s the simplest thing I can do next?
  • What’s blocking me in this situation?

I want to be brave and honest

I want to be brave and honest

To have my chin up even when I don’t know where I’m going
To listen because I’m heard
To help because I’m able
To be excited for others because together, we’re powerful
To share because I’m privileged
To laugh at myself because sometimes things just happen
To be okay with maybes and I don’t knows
To more quickly adapt to consequences because this is the quickest path to growth

Author: Husam

Husam Machlovi has pitched to, and developed relationships with, top Fortune 100 companies. He's designed digital experiences that have generated millions in revenue. At his company, With Pulp, he leads Product Strategy & Design where he crafts product stories and interfaces that people love.

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