Twenty-Five life lessons I’ve learned through travel
I just spent my twenty-fifth birthday in a small Turkish town, It was uneventful, the town had three restaurants to choose from and we were the only guests in our hotel; however, I’m okay with that.
I’ve barely even scratched the surface when it comes to traveling the world, but I can stand firmly behind the fact that it is shaping me. So what have I learned in my first quarter-century of life?
Life Travel Lessons
The more I learn, the more I don’t know
I’m kicking this one off with a quote from Einstein, because every year I realize just how true this statement is. I know nothing. This is something you do not need world travel to learn.
Enjoy The Moment
It’s easy to keep looking forward when things will get “better” instead of enjoying the moment. I work on this everyday, with travel it always easy to say, “The next place is going to be even better.” So enjoy that sunset, or that coffee, or that comfy couch as you travel around the world, or life for that matter.
Eat good food
When traveling the world your days are often filled with so many foreign flavors, and you’ll discover new food in every region of the world. Explore with your taste. Don’t be afraid to join the locals, if they have a passion for something chances are it’s pretty good. While, you’re at it don’t be afraid to spend the money for good food. It’s generally that middle ground between cheap and expensive that’s where food dies.
If there is one thing that I love it’s drinking coffee. Every region gets their caffeine fix differently; it really can be the essence of a culture distilled down sometimes. So take some time and enjoy a nice yerba mate, diner coffee, espresso, greek coffee, nescafe, english tea, or cay.
Out With The Old
Sometimes I think it’s really easy to get cluttered down with stuff. The less you have the simpler life will be. Same goes for travel, I find I need less and less to get by. A lighter pack is a blessing while traveling the world.
You Are What You Eat
I don’t know about you, but when I eat bad, I feel bad. It’s easy to fall into the pitfalls of a diet while traveling. For some reason those sweets seem so much more appealing when I’ve spent the whole day out in the freezing cold.
Brush That Dirt Off Your Shoulder
Don’t let the little things bother you. I’ve seen dozens of people get mad while traveling, and I can’t think of a single one that ended up in a better place because of it.
Karma’s A Bitch
I don’t believe there is some cosmic force giving balance to the world, but I do believe in self-balance and a positive mindset. You get what you give.
If you want something you have to push yourself for it. You don’t get to carnegie hall with luck, it takes practice
Make Good Financial Decisions
Pay off that credit card bill every month. Make sure to be using credit cards too, my debit card is for withdrawing cash and that’s it. This really pertains to travel, seeing as being good with finances is really the base to being able to travel long term. We were able to save while living in NYC.
Seriously, we weren’t meant to spend all our time indoors. There are so many beautiful things outside. I’ve spent the better part of my traveling days outside, and I feel better because of it.
Cigarettes Are Gross
I shouldn’t even have to share this one, but I am. I celebrated my birthday in Turkey, which I love, but I’m surrounded by smokers. We all have a right to do as we please, and it’s a facet of turkish culture, but the long term effects of smoking far out weigh any sort of instant gratification. Also it makes you smell, and ruins your sense of taste, the latter being the worst of it.
Read A Book!
I can’t stress this one enough. I think reading a good book is one life’s simplest pleasures. A beach and a book is my happy place. If you’re looking for some reading material check out our list of books about Africa.
I just spent my day wandering around ancient ruins in the off-season. You want to know who accompanied me? A lot of old retirees, and they had a hard time walking through the ruins (I’m sure they still had a great time too). I’m choosing to do the things now that others save for retirement, and I’m happier for it.
Embrace The Difference
Different viewpoints are abundant in the world, and that’s a good thing. The more you travel the more you understand people. You meet all walks of life, and you begin to understand what makes other people form their opinions.
Learn a second language, or third, or just another one. I kick myself pretty much everyday for having not learned another language while I was younger, but I’m not letting that stop me now. I’m determined and making steps everyday towards learning another language.
We All Make Mistakes
It’s really the only way we learn. Tasha and I have made countless mistakes, and we’re better travellers because of them. This post was even delayed a day because I left my laptop charger at the last hostel, but I was fortunate to get it back.
I can’t stress this enough. The mistake of racing through life is one that is tragic, and so is rushing through your travels.
Find The Humor
It happens to almost all travelers at some point where things just go wrong. I mean getting kicked off a train at 4:00 a.m. wrong and sleeping in a train station with only a hole in the ground for a toilet. Or that shitty meal you just had to eat because everything is closed and you’ve been traveling for 18 hours straight, and then it starts to rain. Or when that freak tthunderstorm almost washes your truck away in the middle of the night. Just learn to laugh, otherwise you’ll just be miserable. And yes it does suck.
Stay At The Edge Of Your Comfort Zone
You might be scared, but just taking the leap and going for something is pretty much worth it every time. Personal growth occurs just outside of your comfort zone.
Learn To Spot A Scam
I don’t know if this is a life lesson, but it’s definitely something you come to learn while traveling. There will always be one or two locals who see tourist and see money and will attempt to scam you. Be wary of your surroundings and don’t take anything when people just randomly approach you. That roman coin the guy in the bushes just found is not real, and definitely not worth $150.
Don’t Hinder Yourself
I think this pertains to so many things. It can be as simple as not letting a budget constrain you for travel, yes those museum tickets are a little high, but they’re totally worth it.
Enjoy The Arts
Music, movies, opera, theatre, literature, artwork, and music should all be savored. I love music. The arts convey complex ideas and express raw human emotions. Learn to appreciate them, and build a voracious appetite. Tasha and I saw multiple performances at the MET in New York, and we’re happy we did. It’s impossible to not find enjoyment in someone who has perfected their craft with countless hours of dedication be that ballet, music, a film score, or a sculpture. There is quite possibly not a single Youtube video that has anywhere near the sheer amount of human effort and craft poured into say an Opera. Don’t discriminate either!
I don’t believe anyone is above hip-hop to appreciate a symphony. Be it D’Angelo, Johnny Cash, Herbie Hancock, Bjork, Louis Armstrong, Cat Stevens, Kanye West, The Broken Bells, Chopin, The Rolling Stones, Curtis Mayfield, Pearl Jam, Justin Timberlake, Buena Vista Social Club, Sade, Talib Kweli, Nirvana, Neil Young, Neil Diamond, Patti Smith, Hector Lavoe, Jack White, Public Enemy, Elton John, The Supremes, Fleet Foxes, The Beatles, Queens of the Stone Age, or The Clash, you get the idea, listen to them all and digest. Digest. Digest. Digest. There is so much out there, more than enough for a lifetime.
Society is what makes us great, but we don’t roam the world in herds. Your life is your own, and you were meant to go forth and explore it for yourself. Alone time should be prized.
I think this one goes without saying, but travel is one of the best educations you can give yourself.
I do not claim to be a Nietzsche. I am seeking a life I find rewarding, as I travel around the world. I won’t find it out there, but I’ll enjoy the journey. The one thing I am certain about this list is I do not have it all figured out. What are your words to live by? Leave a comment at the bottom.