The things travel taught me: Pauline Nguyen


You can't be an interesting person with interesting stories to tell if you don't do interesting things. I travel at least twice a year to places I have never been to before without husband and children. The unknown is my happy place. Growth and variety are big on my list of human needs. I love exploring unfamiliar territory and making it familiar. I like to meet new people and befriend those who feel like sunshine. Embracing new adventures that make my heart sing allows me to come home with endless stories to tell.


Travelling to China with my two young children, Mia, eight, and Jethro, five, our flight was delayed for many hours because the pilot was sick. I lost Mia for a good hour when the doors to the international airport transit train closed on her, separating us. Jethro projectile-vomited multiple times throughout the flight. The airline lost our luggage – we were without our belongings for two days. But it's all a test. These challenges build character. Deep breathing, delusional optimism, uplifted spirits and a whole lot of patience saw us through. The kids were amazing and took it all in their stride. Every opportunity that life throws at us is another opportunity to master ourselves a little more.


I have come across many people who hate to travel because it means they have to leave behind what's comfortable for them: their television sets, reclining TV chairs, air-conditioning, familiar foods. They don't enjoy travel because they are afraid. "What if we get robbed?" "What if we get stranded?" "What if the toilets are dirty?" "What if there are no toilets?" "It's all too hard." These people are not my people. Every next level of your life will demand a new version of you. Travel allows us to experience conditions that are out of our comfort zones. This is the blessing in all. Only when we step out of our comfort zones can we really elevate ourselves to the next level and discover what we are really made of and can achieve.


Take the two frogs in a well. One is at the bottom, the other at the top. The frog at the bottom thinks that the circle of sky he is seeing is in fact the whole sky. The frog at the top sees the entire sky. Sometimes we can go through life like the frog at the bottom of the well – we think we see the big picture and that is all there is to our world. But there is so much more we are not seeing. It is impossible to see the big picture from where we are currently standing. When we can change our position in life, when we can ascend, when we can change our world view, our lives instantly fill with awe and wonder. When we can see the big picture, we can anticipate the future and respond to life's demands with fearlessness, grace and poise. Our world becomes expansive and we experience how miraculous our life truly is.

Pauline Nguyen is an entrepreneur, international speaker and owner of Red Lantern, a much awarded Vietnamese restaurant in Sydney's Darlinghurst. She is the author of The Way of the Spiritual Entrepreneur and Secrets of the Red Lantern. She will be a guest host on Traveller Tours' Flavours of Vietnam, a unique, insights-rich 13-day guided journey from north to south Vietnam, departing June 4, 2020. See