1 Year Travel Anniversary: Reflections and 3 Lessons learned.

In BLOG, INSPIRATION by Clelia Mattana22 Comments



Exactly one year ago, I was sitting on my bed in Sardinia, my 2 shiny new backpacks ready, a huge smile and tears on my eyes, I was writing the Night before the departure post.

Three hundred and sixty-five days have passed and I’m now sitting on a bed in Siargao, a beautiful Island in the Philippines, trying to summarize the most amazing year of my life. Not an easy task!

 nothing_ is_ impossible_INSPIRATIONAL_QUOTE_


After 2 months back home in October and November (mostly to feed myself to death and overcome a bad personal moment), in December I  resumed my long-term trip, starting right where I began when I decided to change my life forever: Bangkok.

A few weeks after my arrival, I also got my first  (and probably last) Tattoo.

I have been waiting for this moment my entire life, not because I’m particularly fond of Tattoos, but I always stated that when the time was right and I knew exactly who I was and what I wanted to do with my life, I would have had it marked into my skin forever.

The Tattoo is pretty simple: A small snake/ dragon on my neck saying “Free Spirit”.

tattoo 1111


My “Free Spirit” nature will constantly remind me why I decided to leave everything behind to live my life on my own terms.

In these two months home, I had a lot of time on my hands to think about my experiences, to unfold what I  want out of this unconventional lifestyle as a “Free spirit”, and I’ve been left full of answers but also with double the questions I had when I began the process.

I also had more time to talk to the people following my adventures, and because of their words, I think I owe them an explanation of what I’ve really learned from all this.

So many people want to live my lifestyles, so many friends living a life of regrets, doubts, fears, and emptiness. People who think that by doing what I did, they can finally get rid of all their problems.

But Is that true? Traveling, living a life out of the box is the answer to all these people’s troubles and doubts?

I honestly don’t have an answer for that. Everyone has to follow their own path and decide for themselves what it’s best for them, but I thought that writing down my own discoveries could be of any help for the ones who are now where I was 1 year ago.


Klelia At Gili Islands Sunset ok


I strongly believe that there is no such thing as  “Travel lessons”. Traveling is a part of life and when done properly, is nothing more than an amplifier of it.

The lessons become pure life lessons, with the only difference that whilst traveling, the process is speeded up: in a few months, you could get more “answers” and life-changing experiences that an average person will get in years.

It’s obviously not the same for everyone, and what you get out of it may be completely different, as we all have various ways to approach life.  As someone once said :

“It is not fit that every man should travel; it makes a wise man better, and a fool worse.”

Traveling, happiness, accomplishments,  as life itself,  are nothing but a mere reflection of our mindset.

If we travel with a negative mindset, trying to escape our everyday problems,  we will probably end up with nothing: no experiences, no great people around, no lessons at all. And the problem we want to escape from will still be haunting us in every corner of the globe.

On the other hand, if we are enthusiastic, positive, with an open mind, the experience will be totally different.This applies to travel, life in general, seeking for happiness and love. At the end of the day, it’s all in our mind. And guess who’s the driver of your mind?

YOU are the boss!


You can decide what to do with your life and how to feel about it at any time. Sounds very empowering and it actually is!



Talking about the proper mindset, let’s say that during these months I was polishing my pink glasses once again!

Did it help? A rhetoric question as usual. Of course, it did, big time. In the beginning, it’s been a very hard, painful fight, but I like challenges and I never met anyone who has learned something interesting when life was a smooth sailing across a calm ocean.

boracay good


2013 Has been MY YEAR

I have no doubts about it. I left my old life for the trip of my life and I ended up finding so much more than what I was expecting. Now I felt it was time to slow down, sit and think about what I’ve gained in terms of life lessons from the most amazing year of my life.



1 |Traveling is not about the destination, is all about the journey:

kle boracay sunset ok


The moments I feel I’m more alive are when I’m moving from one destination to another. Seeing the world passing by, the landscapes, the wind on my face on a boat trip. This makes me connect to “IT”, to the real meaning of travel, to the world and to the beauty and diversity surrounding me. It’s the best time to think about my life, my travel experiences, and feelings.

Also, the journey is not just meant to be as traveling through countries. For me is mainly an insightful journey through my fears, my emotions, my passions.

It’s not always been easy during this year. People just see the bright side of my adventure, the awesome pictures I post, the fairy tale. But traveling is also stressing, hard and challenges you in many ways. I’m not complaining about this of course, as the hard moments are the ones that really transformed me into the person  I am today.


2 | Traveling is mostly about the people you meet rather than the places you visit:



No matter how wonderful a place is, my dearest memories, my life-changing experiences came from the interaction with other people.

Amazing travelers of all ages and local people will teach you more than you realize. Listening to them is fascinating. I realized how different we are but yet so similar in our basic needs and stories. Each one of us wants exactly the same thing out of life: Happiness, acceptance, and Love.

There’s been suffering, tears and laughter in this encounter, and no matter whether our paths crossed for a moment, a few days or months. It’s the emotional connection between human beings that will stay with me forever.

No matter how poor, rich, young, old, stupid or intelligent they seem to be. Just listen to their stories, ask questions like a 4-year-old kid. Anybody has a path, a story to tell, a beautiful smile to offer, an emotional moment to share. Open your mind and get ready to receive it.

During this year I’ve met so many special people that will be with me forever. It’s been a crazy ride so far, and even if I probably won’t see most of them anymore, they will always have a special place in my memories, and each one of them contributed to making this trip awesomely unforgettable.


3 |You need to let go of the past to be able to get where you need to be:


This is one of the hardest lessons to learn. And it is deeply connected to my previous lesson about the people you meet on the road. I’ve been very lucky to meet these people, but when you share a meaningful part of the trip with them, you get inevitably attached, and sometimes letting go is damn hard.

I thought that with time, the goodbyes would get a bit easier to digest. But no, they don’t. Each one of them is difficult and painful. What gets “easier” is how I cope with them. I am now aware that each person came into my life for a reason. Some of them will stay in my memories for a very long time and I’m more able to let go and just enjoy the moment without any expectation.

They shared a part of their lives, emotions, troubles, and joys with me, enriching my life as well. So letting go gets easier as I know that they will always be a part of me.

Being able to let go is necessary to keep on going and experiencing the world with the best mindset. If you are stuck in your past, you can’t embrace the future as you should. And what’s the point in traveling if you are not living the present?


Is Traveling long term worth it?



One year has passed by in a flash, it seems like yesterday that I was embracing the unknown and the reality of the trip hit me in the face very hard.  When I was still fantasizing about it, everything was perfect and smooth. The reality is totally different and I now won’t recommend traveling long term to everyone.

If you are ready to ride on bumpy streets, real and metaphoric ones, then go for it. Otherwise, I’d suggest you to take your 3 weeks holidays per year and use them wisely, to discover as many new places as possible.

If you have a family, consider buying a timeshare so everyone can travel with you. An RCI timeshare can be used at over 4,000 resorts around the world.https://www.buyatimeshare.com/

Traveling Long term is awesome, incredible and I’d do it all over again. But it’s not for everyone, and it’s not a never-ending holiday.

To close this celebratory post, I WANT TO THANK ALL THE PEOPLE I MET ON THE ROAD, I will remember this year as the most amazing of my life so far, and it’s mostly because of you all guys! THANK YOU FOR SHARING A PART OF YOUR LIFE WITH ME!


  1. How is it making friends with native people? I’ve only know basic Mandarin Chinese and that will only help me so much and only in certain areas. With the language barrier how do you interact with people? How do you get to know them? Do you slowly learn their language over time?

  2. Pingback: From my Balinese Engagement to Ballet/English Teacher in One month. - KEEP CALM AND TRAVEL

  3. Hi Clelia,

    Did your trip to Siargao happen in February 2014? I’ve been planning to visit Siargao in Jan-Feb 2015 but people have been telling me the weather there is horrible that time of year. How was the weather when you were there?

  4. Great post I loved it! And your right, it sure is mostly about the people you meet rather than the places. Like I say to my friends, we could go anywhere in the world together and still have a great time because we are in good company. Which is another great thing about travelling, meeting more people which are also like minded to which you are certain to learn from and have a great time with. As the company you choose to be around is ever important anywhere you are in the world or anywhere you are in life.

    1. Jaryd, totally true, that’s why I wrote my last article. It talks exactly about what you said and the importance of the people!

      1. Hi Clelia Mattana!

        I just want to know when is the best time to visit siargao? because i’m planning to go there on december? Hoping for a warm reply! Thanks!

        1. Hi Miaca, I visited Siargao in February and I had a mix of rainy days and sunny ones (but I enjoyed my stay whatever the weather was). December is usually a good month to visit the Philippines so you shouldn’t have any problem!

          Now i envy you πŸ™‚ I’m planning a second visit and i can’t wait to be there again!

  5. I was totally on the same page with you.

    Each and every word on this article is exactly what I want to say.. 2013 has been my year also. Full of travels, pure joy and lovely memories. I’ve met a lot of very interesting people.

    …Everything you said!!! I thought I was alone on this journey. Traveling really made a big impact in my life. And you’re right, “it’s not always been easy. People only see the bright side of the adventure” but I’M ALSO NOT COMPLAINING, it’s the beauty of traveling. When you get pass thru that, you’ll feel really awesome!

    When I was a kid, I can’t even go on field trips so I made sure that when the time is right I’ll go to places where I’ve never thought I could go. I went to places with beautiful beaches and falls, alone. I read books, stay on hammocks, enjoy every breakfast while looking at the horizon and all the things a girl could dream of doing while alone, just seat and stare at the beautiful scenery for as long as she wants. No time pressure, just reflecting on her life’s journey and how she is right now compare to her self 5 or 10 years ago. Her achievements and her dreams that finally came true and all the challenges that she surpassed. And there I discover more about myself. I am stronger now πŸ™‚ I don’t care what other people say because I know myself more than anyone.

    Thanks for sharing this πŸ™‚ I hope all your dreams will come true πŸ™‚ cheers to good life! ❀️

    You posted this on the day of my birthday πŸ™‚ where I had the time of my life πŸ™‚ after a year of traveling, I met the man of my dreams, just before I end my one year of traveling alone to discover myself πŸ™‚ && he is perfect, just the way I wanted ❀️ I hope one day I would visit your page again and say.. Yeap! He is really the one πŸ™‚ haha!


    1. Joanne! this is by far one of the loveliest comments i’ve ever received on my blog, thanks so much and i’m so happy that you could relate to it and that you found your love on the road…it is an amazing feeling when you follow your dreams and, despite the challenges and the obstacles you can still say that raveling was the best decision of your life, well done! I also totally relate on what you say. Traveling makes you stronger, more open minded and ready for such great and awesome things!

      Oh and of course…HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU (even if i’m a little bit late! πŸ™‚ )
      Continue enjoying your life and travels and i really hope to hear back from you saying that he is the one! i love so much to hear happy ending stories (i’m still a romantic chick after all!)

      Big hugs to you!


  6. Many congratulations Clelia on the first of many milestones. Your writing is always a great read and your photos are stunning.

    Keep up the great work. I always enjoy reading your blog.

  7. Pingback: Travel Guide: Island Hopping on Siargao Island - Out of Town Blog

  8. Congrats to your one year anniversary! We should celebrate! Lets have rum and pineapple juice! See you in 5 <3

Leave a Comment