Travelers share lessons they learned while traveling
Here at Tinggly we know the importance of meeting new people whilst travelling and no matter whether you’re chatting on arrival at a hostel or hobnobbing over cocktails at a swanky city bar, sharing your travel experiences is always a great way to make friends and pass on what you’ve learned.
With this in mind we’ve interviewed more than 50 travel bloggers and asked them to share with us the most important lessons that they’ve experienced whilst travelling the globe.
The answers that we received were frank, open and incredibly insightful, and if you’ve got plans to travel in the future then please take your time to read just a few of these invaluable pearls of wisdom as you never know when they may come in handy.
Of course many key life lessons come from travel. However, perhaps the most fruitful is the transference of self confidence from something that is socially projected, into something that is actually internalised. There is a huge difference between conveying that you are confident to the people around you/acting self confident vs. actually having a strong belief in yourself and your ability to perform under pressure. This comes from travel and is immensely valuable. It puts you in a place from which you can have more honest relationships and interactions with people as well as entering into and facing down other educational challenges in a much more effective and rewarding fashion.
Take everything in stride. If you travel enough, you are bound to miss a flight, get lost, have a mechanical issue, or even get stuck somewhere longer than you anticipated. I used to get frustrated by delays or mishaps, but now I cherish them as part of the overall travel experience. I have many great stories and experiences due to unforeseen circumstances.
It’ll have to be the fact that I’m a lot stronger and more resourceful than I originally thought. I especially learned this on my solo travels, when I could only really rely on myself to get through the obstacles that come up when travelling. A second, equally important lesson I learned from travel is that, regardless of race, background, age or religion, you’re able to find a connection with anyone.
It’s amazing how a few words in a local language goes a long way in making human connections…especially the word “delicious.” When you are on the road most of your meals are prepared by someone else, so it’s as handy as “thank you” but way more fun because it’s so unexpected coming out of traveler’s mouth. When you can tell the grandma cooking at a street stall in rural Myanmar that her food is delicious it will brighten her day and spark up a friendly interaction. Even if you mess up the pronunciation, she’ll get a laugh out of it and know that you cared enough to try.
Lanee: No matter where or how far you go, there you are. (Travel is life-changing. However, it is not a substitute for changing your life, i.e. doing the work to quit bad habits, forgive, improve relationships, etc.)
Lindsay: Adaptability. You can go with plans and itineraries and all sorts of ideas, but once you’re there, things always happen. Travel has taught me to let go of some of the control (you don’t have any anyway, really), go with the flow, be more flexible, and always keep an open mind. It’s when you let go that the magic happens.
I think the most important things I’ve learned on the road relate to both fear and confidence. Many people are afraid to go anywhere that will give them some culture shock, talk to locals or do things that make them uncomfortable. Being afraid of something isn’t always a good reason not to do it. For example, for 20 years I was absolutely terrified of heights. But as I traveled more I made myself start trying height-related activities: zip-lining, skydiving, bungy jumping, canyoning, rock climbing. Now I’m obsessed with all of these. I faced my fears and conquered them. This also goes for confidence while traveling. I’ve been in many uncomfortable/nerve-racking situations while traveling alone; however, when you only have yourself to rely on you realise just how smart and capable you are. Trust me. The things that seem big and scary before your trip — what if I get lost, what if I miss my connection, what if I lose my passport, what if I’m lonely — will get figured out along the way.
I’ve learned to try not to make too many plans ahead of time. It’s nice to have the basics in place- flights and a few nights of accommodation booked- but usually my trip always end up changing. The minute I make any kind of fixed plans, I make some awesome friends and end up cancelling them! It’s nice to just go with the flow and see where you’ll end up.
85-90% of the world’s population is made up of good people. This percentage is the same wherever you go. If you meet someone who is a jerk, it just means you ran into the minority. For every unsavoury character you meet, there nine who are fantastic and a joy to meet. This is true whether you are home or away. This means that you are as safe traveling as you are at home.
To always trust strangers since even if they end up scamming or robbing you, there’s the high chance that they won’t and they will end up being some of your best friends even after years of not seeing them in person.
I have learned not to set limits, not to use the word can’t and to try and see as many cool places as I can whether they are touristic or not. I’m a fan of anything related to travel and nowhere is off limits. My main words of wisdom – don’t stop living.
We like to switch the old saying around: talking to people is worth a thousand pictures. Ask questions and listen to answers. Simple, friendly conversations make a world of difference. The other life lesson from travel is simply patience. Waiting, adapting to unexpected changes, and remaining open to unscheduled time is as much a part of travel as arriving at your destination.
I can easily say the most important lesson I’ve learnt is how critical it is to be patient. Different parts of the world have very different senses of time. And, within that, each person has a different way of operating. But one of the worst things we can do for our mind and our body is to stress it out. These days I am much more relaxed about time and I feel much happier because of that. I think you need to be able to identify situations where taking action would change things for the better – and also learn to not worry when there’s nothing you can do to change something.
Don’t overpack. Either pay for hotel laundry or buy cheap clothes at your destination and throw them away later. If you’ve got no kids and are just in cities, everything you need for 2-3 weeks can easily fit in one piece of hand luggage.
The world is a much safer place than the media would sometimes have us to believe. We’ve experienced immense kindness and generosity in the most unexpected of places, which is just a reminder that we are all people who want the same basic things in life, just in different locations and different ways.
You don’t have to do everything, by trekking around visiting every museum, gallery and tourist spot, you can miss the chance to sit out with a cappuccino or a beer and to absorb local life. Some of my best travel moments have been simply sitting watching and absorbing.
I think it’s learning to relax and just go with the flow. We’ve never been ‘control freaks’ but sometimes, not being able to communicate and have control over your surroundings is kind of difficult. For example, we had our train canceled in China and had no idea of what was happening, and freaked out at first. After a little while, we relaxed, started following what the other passengers were doing, knowing everything would be OK.
Doing research and planning a bit is good, but also be open minded and flexible. The more room you leave open for anything possible to happen, the more of a unique and awesome experience you will have. Be spontaneous and don’t plan too much. Also, travel alone at least once in your life!
Don’t think too much and just go with the flow. It always turns out nicely. You might not realise it right away, but even a missed flight might turn out in a good travel experience or at least a good story afterwards.
That you are capable of more than you think. It’s scary to land alone in a country where you’ve never been, have no friends, and don’t speak the language. It’s easy to imagine all that can go wrong. But, after you put yourself in situations like that where you need to sink or swim enough times, you learn that you almost always swim, and it’s a great confidence builder.
The most important lesson I’ve learned from my travels is to slow down and not try to do it all. Three weeks in one country may sound like a long time, but unless it’s a really tiny one you can’t see it all. It’s better to spend three quality weeks in three places than spend half your time inside planes, buses, and trains.
The most important thing I’ve learned from travel is being able to adapt to situations. No matter how much you plan out, there will always be those things that are out of your control. It could be a problem with an airline, excursion mishap or an unfriendly encounter. Whatever it may be, you have to be ready to handle the unexpected. The key is to be flexible enough to adapt and think on your feet even in stressful situations.
One of the lessons I’ve learned is to go with the flow. Not everything is going to go like planned! Plans change all the time and sometimes the best travel moments are the moments you didn’t plan for. Different cultures have different ways of doing things and it’s of no use to try and enforce your own way. Just go with the flow and start enjoying!
Always be open to ideas and adventures. Try things out – you never know what you might love after all. And let the kids have input too. Don’t let the parents dictate everything. That means you’ll all have a good time.
Ah, I learned so many good lessons from travel. The most important. Be open—open minded, try new things, say yes often, make new friends. I also learned how little we really “need” in life and experiences are so much more important and enriching than “things.”
All roads and paths lead to somewhere. If lost, never panic because one way or another there will be help on the way. Who knows, I may have not been in a sticky situation in the first place and the road probably does lead to where I want to go. At the end of the day, stay calm and never freak out.
The world is a much brighter place than you might think it is, if you only listen to the news. News channels tend to report only bad stories, but barely positive stories – about most places you only hear when there has been a war, a shooting, a natural disaster, political unrest. Once you go out and travel the world though, you realise that the world looks much brighter than news corporations want to make us believe.
Although the world is small, there are so many wonderful things to look around and discover! You only need to prepare your eyes to see and to open your mind to understand the diversity. Another extra lesson would be: if you have children, be sure that they are experiencing travel as early as possible in their life!
Definitely don’t plan too much! Things always change on the road because of circumstances that you couldn’t have know at home, so make sure to have some room to breathe in your itinerary. Pick one experience you really like to have, but then leave the rest of the day open for whatever comes on your path.
Smile a lot. Smiles break barriers. My wife has a great smile and we are always making new friends. Sure, we feel like monkeys at times, but it really works…you can’t take yourself too seriously, that’s part and parcel of smiling a lot.
Be open to the mystery. You can try to plan everything, but things never go according to plan on the road. And why would you want them to? The magic of travel is getting outside of your comfort zone and allowing the outside world to transform you from within.
There are two: (1) to learn how to trust your gut, and let go of the idea that you have to control everything, and (2) to appreciate that despite being so profoundly different from country to country, humans are often very much the same and connecting to them is the best part of travel.
Never be afraid to travel by yourself. Sometimes your friends and family just aren’t able to come with you, but that should never stop you. Be adventurous and go anyway. You will get to do things on your own schedule, follow your own interests, and will meet some amazing people along the way just by keeping an open mind and being friendly. It’s important to be safe on the road, but also remember that not everyone is out to get you. Use common sense. Trust your gut. If you’re thinking of doing something that you wouldn’t normally do in your own city, like walk down a creepy looking alleyway as a shortcut, don’t do it in a new city either. That being said, don’t be afraid to talk to the people around you–you’ll learn more about the culture and have a great travel story to tell when you get home.
The most important lesson I’ve learned is to take risks. The risks I’ve taken in the past few years can sound terrifying, dangerous, and just plain stupid but I don’t regret a single one. Every risk I take shapes who I am.
Attitude is everything. Next time you take a long plane flight or bus ride, have a look around: everyone is in the exact same situation, but some are miserable, some are resigned and some are as happy as can be. How much a person enjoys a trip says more about the person than the destination.
The most important lesson we’ve learned is to go with the flow. You can make all the plans in the world but things happen and plans change and things don’t work out the way you think they will. But that’s all part of the adventure. All those adventures, not matter how challenging they are, will change you for the better. When we hiked the El Camino de Santiago last summer, every single day was hard and we faced regular challenges. Yet at the end of each day, we felt more fulfilled then we had in a long time. And I think that’s what travel is truly about and to fully get that experience you have to let go of how you think something needs to happen.
Don’t always judge a destination by one person’s bad experience. As an African I know people have a particular perception of Africa and I believe it also stops many people from exploring this beautiful and diverse continent. This year I have made a vow to showcase more countries in Africa on my blog in an attempt to inspire more people to visit, as its not just about safaris. I take the same attitude to other destinations around the world. Yes, I will listen to what someone who has been to the place I am wanderlusting about, but I always have this sense of wonder to see places with my own eyes.
I used to want to see and do everything, to the point where I would get pretty upset if I don’t manage to tick all my to-do boxes. But I’ve learned that there’s often simply not enough time to do every single thing there is to do. Now, if I don’t have much time to spend in one place, I edit my itinerary to only include a handful of things to enjoy rather than cram multiple activities into my itinerary just to rush through them. This goes hand in hand with me living a more minimalist life that’s filled with only a few things I really love rather than squeezing as many things as possible into it.
To be grateful for what I have. As a woman growing up in England, I realise how lucky I’ve been. I’ve grown up in a safe country, I got a free education, I can access clean water with the twist of a tap, I can afford to eat when I’m hungry, I can sleep under a dry roof if I choose and I have plenty of opportunities available to me. Not everyone has these things that many of us consider basic rights. Many of the things we complain about (a spilt latte on a new £100 shirt) are just not big issues. Appreciate what you have because not everybody has those luxuries.
Just let go and flow. The more you resist, the harder your travels will be. Things rarely go according to plan; and that simple truth opens the door for some of the most amazing experiences travel has to offer. However, you have to be open. I’ve spent a lot of time frustrated and wishing things were different. That never gets me anywhere – except out of the moment.
I wouldn’t be who I am today if I didn’t travel. So I think I owe my travels so much more than one lesson – they have changed my person so much and always in a good way. The process hasn’t stopped yet and I am cool with it. Since I started traveling I feel like my mind has no boundaries, as well as the world!
Experience travels in another way. Experience gifts by Tinggly: