40 Lessons Learned from Traveling Around the World (in no particular order)
As mentioned in my about page, in October of 2016, I left the comforts of my home and full-time job in Minneapolis for a 5.5 mo trip around the world, visiting 6 continents and 23 countries. Since then I’ve had a lifestyle shift- meaning I currently ‘live abroad’ primarily in Rome, though travel several times a year to my home in Minnesota as well as to and in between my partner’s home in Azerbaijan. Essentially this shift shook me out of routine and opened my eyes to many life lessons that has shaped my views on the world… as well as some small tidbits that might make some days a little more enjoyable.
Rather than going through the stress of dumping your belongings and parting from your loved ones and pets, I thought I’d spare you some time and money with the Spark Notes of what I learned from my experiences.
I wrote this following list after the first trip in 2017 when I lived out of a backpack not much larger than one you’d take to school, and below you’ll find the lessons I’d add now:
Things learned from a solo trip around the world (in no particular order):
Groceries are almost always cheaper
Greeting new people w/ kisses is so sweet and everyone in the world should do it (though it ends up being awkward if it’s not the same expectations for both parties)
People (mostly) are good and are (almost) never their government
Always use public transportation when commuting from an airport when possible- it is insanely cheaper and usually completely comfortable
You actually don’t need a ton of different outfits in order to feel appropriate for the world if you are smart about layering
Living minimalistic eliminates some stresses and teaches you great lessons on materialism, but will still cause some other stresses or discomforts
It’s good to be direct and say no when you mean it
Plantains are always a good side dish
Purchasing oranges and bananas is never wasted money
It’s possible to appreciate things and let them enhance your life without having them/buying them
There will always be more stuff
Getting rid of material items you’re attached to is important, and a slow lesson to learn
A lot of people in hostels only stay in hostels, and because of this you often don’t get the best understanding of what a place is really like if you don’t connect with locals
Laughing because of stress is always the best way to handle it
Planning ahead transportation is always cheaper than leaving it to the last minute
Veggies and fruit are always a good purchase
If you can get it done now, you absolutely SHOULD. You might not have the opportunity again.
It’s OK to not be in control of your day
It’s OK to collaborate (and often quite rewarding)
Sleeping enough is incredibly important- especially if you can wake up naturally
Rinsing with cold water will always feel insanely healthy and awakening- regardless if it actually is
Squeezing lemon or ginger into water is a small way to make it delicious all day
Forgetting to take said piece of ginger out of your water bottle means you may get stopped and almost fined by New Zealand customs
Tasks can get done just the same without overthinking and stressing about them
Writing is therapeutic when stressed
If you see a cute pen in Taipei with a cat on it, buy two- you’ll definitely use it up and be sad when it runs dry in a few months
Expect to make mistakes, so you don’t stress when they happen
It’s better to be clean + have clean clothes on when going to sleep (vs in the morning)
Seaweed can be incorporated into many more foods than you might think
Having an anti-bacterial water bottle is the most valuable item when traveling *though I’ve recently learned its actually really unhealthy to be drinking all your water in something copper-lined, whoops!
Headphones prevent people from talking to you
If you feel a man (or anyone who could cause harm to you walking alone down a path) is approaching you and you sense he’s about to say or do something uncomfortable, a great pre-defense is to snap up your gaze as if you are locking eyes with a friend just past him and possibly wave. He’ll assume he’s not alone as he thought.
If Uber is illegal in a country you’re in, then don’t use it.
When traveling longterm add to your budget the cost of sending items back to family for space reasons
Things I’d add now that over a year has passed:
Always be humble and assume you could be wrong
Having an open mind without preconceived prejudices will lead to the best solutions
Remember to show your friends you appreciate them
Hosting is a wonderful way to show love
Take a walk once a day to clear any chaos from your brain
Kicking around a soccer ball is always a good idea
Maybe every year it would be beneficial to reevaluate and life lessons. Every day I feel I’m adding some thoughts to my Notes app, or jotting down something on my notebook.
On a semi-related note, if you are looking for an awesome interactive coffee table book, one of my favorite purchases is the booklet box by Stefan Sagmeister- “Things I’ve Learned in My Life So Far:”