After traveling for nearly 5 years and finally reaching 600 Facebook likes (woohoo!) we wanted to tell you all about the lessons we have learned from traveling! This is one of the most meaningful things we have gotten out of travel :) Here are 35 lessons we learned while traveling. Enjoy!
1. Get out of your comfort zone. You are not going to Thailand to eat pizza, you aren’t going to Ibiza to stay in your room, you can’t go to the Philippines without going in the water. The more you try and get out of your comfort zone, the more you know and learn about the country around you. Scare yourself a bit, it will make your life more exciting. As the Indonesians told us “Never try, never know”.
2. Don’t compare and stop expecting. “My friend did this on her trip” and ”it wasn’t supposed to rain!” By comparing and expecting, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and false hopes. We all have our own paths. This is YOUR trip. Make it your own.
3. Just go. There is no more “I have no money”, “I have no time”, “I don’t have anyone to go with”. The best time is to go now, when you are young because in the end, there will always be an excuse. If you want to go, do it. Don’t wait because there will always be some type of reason that will stop you, so just go. You can hear about it and see it in pictures all the time, but it will never be as good as that time you experienced it yourself.
4. We are all human. Despite language, skin color, cultural differences, religion and beliefs, we are all human. Through travel, none of that even matters. We all laugh, smile, cry, love, and dance. Travel teaches you acceptance, tolerance, appreciation, and love for all this hodgepodge of beautiful people and spectacular countries. It is a wonderful thing.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask friends on what they recommend, ask bloggers for connections, ask locals on things to do, ask forums for visa regulations. There is no such thing as stupid questions when traveling and most travelers are always willing to help. We all want you to have the best time and we are always happy to share our tips (from traveler to traveler).
6. Ask the locals. The best tips, the nicest places to see, the tastiest food, and the most memorable things to do will come from asking the locals. They know because they experience it all the time and it is a great way to see THEIR country. At least mix it up with touristy stuff and local knowledge because the locals know best. Seriously.
7. Don’t let school be your only education. You learn so much more when traveling than you would at school. School makes you book smart, but through traveling, you are life smart! You learn to network, how to respect other cultures, speak new languages, country customs and traditions, you learn how to navigate maps, you have mastered how to budget and how to negotiate, and best, you have pushed yourself out of your comfort zone to meet new people and explore new places. These are things that school doesn’t teach you and that you can never learn unless you have traveled. You are experiencing it firsthand and therefore will always remember these lessons from traveling.
8. Culture shock is a part of the experience. We aren’t used to always taking off our shoes before entering a place, or people spitting on the ground to eat, or drinking wine with every meal. You develop a sense of culture, thicker skin, personal growth, and the ability to adapt to change. It may be different and uncomfortable at first, but you learn to become one with your surroundings. You aren’t traveling around the world to experience your own culture. Embrace it.
9. Smile more and smile often. Smiling is a universal language and it means the same thing in every single country. If you don’t understand someone, smile. You don’t know how far it will go. It is a sign of welcome, friendliness, and respect and you are more than likely to get one back. :)
10. Shit Happens. Whether you plan your trip or not, things always happen. You miss your ferry connection, you get sick, you lose your phone. It happens. Just don’t let the mishap determine the rest of your trip. On our trip to Asia, I got stitches and lost my iPhone but it’s ok, we are still alive and traveling (just with a permanent memory on my face!).
11. Be safe. Ya, ya, ya YOLO, we get it, you are traveling, you want to do all these crazy things, and try all these insane foods. Do whatever you want, just be safe about doing so. It’s not fun having food poisoning, or getting hurt, or having to go to the hospital during your trip. All these things happened to us even if we were safe, so just be careful. Things happen. Have fun but be smart!
12. Bring a great medical kit. Like we said, there’s nothing worse than getting sick or hurt and having it stop you from your travel plans. Be prepared with a great medical kit so you don’t have to deal with foreign pharmacies who can barely understand you. Bring cough meds, cold and flu tablets, band aids, aloe vera, sunscreen, lotion, anti itch, and repellent. It’s worth it!
13. Always get some type of travel insurance. Like we said, shit happens but it is always great to know that you can be compensated (provided with receipts and proper documentation). Travel insurance can definitely go a long way, in fact, we got everything we paid and more back!
14. Appreciate the little things. Look at how blue the sky is, how cheap the beer can be, how you can see every single star in the sky, how amazing the use of spices are, how clear the ocean is, and how friendly the people are. Appreciate the cold crisp air, the fine grain sand between your toes, all the colors you have never seen in nature before. These little things? These little things are damn good.
15. Don’t over plan. have an idea of what you are doing but don’t make an exact schedule because it will never work out. Things happen that change your plans. Stop thinking and just do it. Make an outline of the things you need to see and do so you have an idea of what you would like to accomplish. Just don’t succumb to being a slave to a schedule. If you plan, you will go into panic mode if something doesn’t go right. Have an idea, don’t stress, and enjoy your travels.
16. Drink water and lots of it. When you travel, you tend to forget to drink water (and sometimes, it is not so safely available like in Asia). Dehydration takes a whole day out of your schedule, and not to mention, you feel like crap! So it’s better to drink up-buy a big bottle for the day or get some charcoal tablets to purify water in unsafe drinking regions. It is also super hot and humid so you don’t realize how much you need to drink water. DRINK DRINK DRINK!
17. You have a home all over the world. When we traveled, we met people from all over the world and they always said good bye as “ if you’re ever in my part of town, let me know. You are more than welcome to crash on my couch”. You build these incredible ever lasting friendships all over the world that essentially pushes you to travel more so you can see them again!
18. Don’t be cheap. Its good to be on a budget, but don’t be so cheap that it stops you from fully enjoying the country you are traveling. Why go all the way to Italy and not go wine tasting? Or a trip to Beijing without seeing The Great Wall of China? Or going to Japan and not trying fresh sushi? Be on a budget but don’t be so cheap that it takes away from the cultural exploration. It also doesn’t hurt to pay for water in some places-you know, to be safe!
19. Treat yourself. We traveled on a budget and were able to save heaps and do everything we wanted, but 3 months of slumming it was exhausting. We treated ourselves to a Balinese and Thai massages ($12 for full body). Oh boy, the crazy life of a traveler, am I right? Just because you are on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t experience a taste of luxury every now and again.
20. Always carry a pack of toilet paper and Tissues when traveling. You’ll thank us later for this one. We were about to embark on a 14 hour over night train ride in China when Jack noticed they were selling toilet paper in the terminal. We thought “surely they will have some on this long over night train”. Nope. No. No toilet paper. But lucky for us, we bought some just in case, and thank goodness! Imagine 14 hours with no toilet paper, on a squatter toilet and a very rickety and moving train. I could think of nothing worse. Bring some with you in case because most places (at least in Asia) didn’t have toilet paper.
21. Flushing toilets and eating utensils are a luxury. You don’t realize how much you appreciate the sound of a real flushing toilet until you get home from Asia. After 3 months of Asia, we missed using our forks and knives (mainly, because we were ungraceful chopstick eaters) and being able to flush a toilet without a bucket, or squatting. I mean, it’s a great leg workout and certainly conserves water but a normal western toilet is just such a gift. I know, we’re spoiled.
22. You are never lost, you are just on an unplanned adventure. Of course you can get lost, especially with no iPhone and google maps, but you’ll eventually find your way back. We got really lost on our way to dinner in Beijing, and what was supposed to be a direct route, we ended up wandering backstreets and local street stalls and dancers in the park in Beijing. We even saw Beijing QUIET!! Not a soul in sight, it was so crazy. Find the value in getting lost, you will eventually find your way back and hopefully find some hidden gems on you way. This is probably our top lesson from traveling, so soak it up!
23. Appreciate what you have. We are given the chance of a lifetime to travel and see what is out there, but what’s out there is not always the best of conditions or the happiest of places. We are blessed to be traveling and we should appreciate all we have and every opportunity we have been given. We are privileged to live the life we live and to be able to travel the world.
24. Become a YES man. Say yes and say it often. By saying yes more often, you will become open to new things and more adventures. The more you say no, the less opportunities come your way. Sky diving? Sure! Wanna go for a hike? Why not! Museum? Yes! It’s like MJ said, “you miss out on 100% of the shots you don’t take”, so say YES.
25. But saying that, you don’t have to go out every night. Alcohol can be one of the bigger expenses when traveling and it also ends with horrible hangovers. We were fast paced traveling and couldn’t afford a hangover day so we didn’t go out often. We met heaps of travelers that loved to party, and that is great! We were here to travel, we wanted to see and do everything in full form, so going out wasn’t always in the books.
26. Traveling teaches you more about you than you can ever imagine. When you travel, you get to work on yourself and become a better person. You have time to reflect not only on the world around you but on who you are and what your purpose is. You get to strengthen relationships with family and friends (distance makes the heart grow fonder, right?) and work on new ones abroad. Traveling will teach you true values you never thought mattered and you become humbled crossing small things. Every choice and every country you go to, will shape who you are today.
27. Experiences don’t even compare to “things.” Every travel experience is far more valuable than that purse or car or ipod. Material goods only bring happiness in that moment, but travel brings you eternal happiness. You can look back on the pictures, think of all those memories, and even catch up with friends you have made on your travels. What you gain is self satisfaction and ultimate happiness, nothing we have ever gotten from a new camera. We prefer spending our money on any sort of experience any day! It’s like that saying, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” True words, my friend, true words.
28. Once you start traveling, you’ll never want to stop. When you get bit by the travel bug, you get bit hard. The only cure is more travel. Traveling has made us better people, shown us the world, introduced us to new cultures, religions, mannerisms, cuisines, and people. We have this itch of needing to travel, and needing to travel often every time we are home. Home is where we most rest and relax, but as travelers we aren’t happy until we go on our next trip. We can’t wait until our next adventure, whether it happens this weekend or in 3 years, we are excited!
29. Nothing cures a hangover like a fresh coconut. Have a coconut (if available) before you go out, and when you wake up and your hangover is nearly gone. At least for us it worked! It definitely made us feel heaps better and less groggy. Also, a cold swim helps, but mostly coconut.
30. This is your life, don’t let others dictate it. Before I left to live in Australia, there was a lot of skepticism. “But what about your future?”, “Have you thought about your career?”, “You are 24 and don’t even have a stable job!”. Well, I may not have a stable job but I love the way my life turned out. After every plane ride I’ve been on, every country I have stepped foot on, and ever person I have met has lead me to this very moment right now. My life is exactly the ay I want it to be and I have never been happier. People may not understand your lifestyle choice, but it is MY life, not theirs. This is how I learn- through my own failures, my own experiences, pushing my own boundaries.
31. Succeeding means something different to everyone. Succeeding is based on ones values, whether it is money, a high paying job, traveling the world, or knitting the ugliest Christmas sweater, “succeeding” means something different to everyone. This is something many friends and family don’t understand. We may not have high paying jobs or a mansion or a Ferrari, but we have lived in 4 different countries, we have traveled to many places in the world, we have seen things we have never dreamed of, we have experienced adventures (and misadventures) you see in movies, and best of all, we are damn happy. Our succession may not be monetary but our travels shows we live one hell of a life. :)
32. Learning to haggle is one of the best skills to have. In business, relationships and life, you have to learn how to negotiate and compromise. Traveling teaches you how to haggle like a master! Stand strong, know exactly what you want and how much for, find a neutral meeting point, and compromise, that way everyone is happy! Also, don’t be afraid to walk away!! It will work out. It is a life skill but it will also help you with your budget and spending needs abroad.
33. Learn from your mistakes. Like we said, shit happens, but don’t let that ruin your trip. Learn from it. Missed a ferry ride? Come earlier. Had a disgusting room? Read reviews. Drank too much Chang? Have a coconut water before you go out ;). Things happen but make the most out of your mistakes! They are here to teach you more about your trip and how you handle a new situation.
34. Your life will change but your home will not. Your life changes when you travel and it is constantly changing you non stop on everyday of your journey. You can’t wait to get home and tell your friends all about your life changing trip and hope they will be just as excited are. But as you change, things at home stay the same. People move on with their lives and life will not stop for you. Being home becomes a feeling rather than a location- you will feel more at home in other countries than you will upon returning.
35. Always have big dreams and follow them. As cheesy and cliche as this may sound, but dream big and shoot for the stars, you will be so happy when they come true. I found my man, traveled Asia (and still came out a couple), worked for Coachella, MTV, and other festivals in Australia, and was a judge at a Grilled Cheese festival. How awesome is life to have all these opportunities! You have to work hard to get what you want, but with hard work, it will happen. Dreams really do come true.