What Travelling The World Taught Me About Life

What Travelling The World Taught Me About Life

Without exception, the best lessons I have ever learnt in life have come from travelling the world. It is coming up to almost 7 years of us backpacking around the globe, exploring new destinations, discovering fascinating cultures and meeting interesting people. Every day that I spend on the road something happens that transforms who I am. Each aspect of life has take on a new, positive meaning. I look back at where we have come from and how we have changed since those early beginnings and it easy to appreciate exactly how travel has turned us into the people we are today. Like St Augustine said, “The world is a book, and those that don’t travel read only one page.” How right he was…

The World Is Not That Scary

If you believe everything the media portrays, the world is out to get you. Terrorism, bandits, drugs, corruption, unsavoury characters, there is no corner of the globe that is safe! Well after almost 7 years backpacking around the world, we can confidently say that it is mostly a load of crap! I’ve felt more scared in Sydney on a Friday night than I have walking around San Salvador. We were in Bangkok during the military coup and felt safer there than hanging out in Los Angeles. The media paints the world to be scary because fear sells. Don’t buy into the propaganda. It is even scarier to live your whole life in a bubble because news publications tell you to – get out there and travel and find out just how wonderful the world is for yourself!

People Are Good

It can be a little be daunting to trust a stranger – I mean after all, we are brought up in the Western world to fear strangers! But just like you and your friends, most people are inherently good. We’ve been taken in by strangers in Dangriga, Belize who fed us and gave us shelter for no other reason than they wanted us to have a good time in their country. A man in Myanmar closed his shop for 30 minutes so he could walk us to a monastery to make sure we didn’t get lost. When you travel you find out that these kind of people aren’t the minority – the world is full of good, honest, kind people.

Hitchiking Travelling The World Taught Me About Life
This man picked us up while we were hitch hiking in Tibetan China. He then stopped at all the great scenic viewpoints so we could get photos, gave us some food and drink, dropped us off right outside our hostel and wanted nothing in return. Amazing people are everywhere.

The Best Things In Life Are Free

Those days when you hike up to the top of a mountain to see the view of a distant Chinese city or stumble into a forgotten park away from the chaos in Paris are proof that not every enjoyable activity has to come with a price. Good conversations with interesting people, gorgeous views in an exotic country, dancing in the rain, reading a book in a park, the best things in life really are free.

Everybody Is On Their Own Path

There is no right or wrong way to travel, and everyone has their own reasons for choosing the path they end up on. While we were motorbiking through Southern Vietnam, some people were enjoying a luxury Mekong River cruise. There is nothing wrong with that. You do not have to backpack across the Congo to truly experience the world or be the next Indiana Jones to ‘live life to the fullest’. You just need an open mind and open heart. Accept everyone for who they are.

Possessions Do Not Equal Happiness

I used to spend hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars on unnecessary items before my travelling life, thinking that having a new stereo or another music instrument or some flashy rims for my car would make me happy. Then I started travelling the world and discovered the happiest people are those that have very little possessions. Visit a developing country and you will see exactly what I mean! This does not mean that possessions equal negative emotions. Instead it means that we tend to place too much importance on material objects. We should be focusing our energies on what we already have and drawing happiness from things that are available to us. Positive human interactions are more rewarding than any object money can buy.

Monk Life Lessons From Travelling The World

Sunrises Are Better Than Sunsets

A sunrise is not just a beautiful experience – it also represents the start of a new day. A day where anything can happen. The world is yours! Since travelling the world I don’t think twice about setting an alarm at 4am to go and watch the dawn of a new day as the sun peaks over Angkor Wat or creeps up over the horizon on the Pacific Ocean. Almost everyday we get to witness the sunset, and they are always amazing, but catching a sunrise before the masses wake is truly special. Make more of an effort to watch the sunrise!

Friends And Family Are Invaluable

The more we travel, the further away we get from our friends and family back home. Not just in distance, but emotionally as well. But no matter how long we are gone for, how many years pass between seeing each other, as soon as we meet up again it is like time has stood still. It can be tough being away from family for so long, but they say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and this really is true.

You Find The Best Places When You Are Lost

It’s going to happen when you travel – you are going to get lost. Sometimes hopelessly lost in a place you have never been before. This happens to us at least once a week. However as long as you don’t view being lost as a negative thing and don’t get too stressed out, you can really discover some fascinating places you never would have found otherwise. It might be a little restaurant tucked away down a back alley or a tiny temple with gorgeous murals that won’t ever be in a guidebook. Allow yourself to get lost and will find some real treasures!

Monastery Travelling The World Taught Me About Life
Allow yourself to get lost – you’ll be amazed at what you may find.

The Cheaper The Food, The Better It Tastes

If you spend $200 on a meal, you would expect it to be amazing. If it’s not, you would be hugely disappointed. But if you spend 15 cents on ten samosas off of a street food vendor in Mandalay, and they turn out to be the most delectable samosas you have ever rewarded your taste buds with, you will talk about them for the rest of your days. Don’t be afraid to try the local food.

Learn To Appreciate The Small Things

We were standing in the freezing cold trying to warm up our legs by a fire on a Wednesday morning in Litang, China. A Tibetan man saw us shivering and brought over a bottle of steaming yak butter tea and offered it to us. At that moment the sun broke through the clouds and hit our faces and we couldn’t help but smile. It is the small things that mean the most when you travel. Never fail to appreciate every moment for what it is really worth.

A Smile Is The Same In Any Language

It doesn’t matter if no common language exists between people – a smile means the same in any culture. It is amazing how far a smile can really take you in any part of the world. We’ve made entire friendships with people we cannot communicate with simply by smiling and laughing a lot. There really is a universal language in this world, and it doesn’t take a lot to learn it.

Laughing Burmese Man Travelling The World Taught Me About Life Lessons

The World Is The Best Classroom

I’ve met people with double master degrees from the best colleges in the world who have absolutely no idea about anything. I’ve also met people who dropped out of high school who can speak five different languages and can comfortably get themselves around any situation they find themselves in. You cannot learn about life and the world from reading books. You need to get out there and explore it for yourself. Then you will learn that the best personal education comes from spending time in the world’s biggest classroom!

I Never Want To Stop Travelling

Not for as long as I live…..

[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded” border=”full”]What has travel taught you about life? Tell us in the comments below![/box]

Life Lessons From Travelling The World
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Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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33 thoughts on “What Travelling The World Taught Me About Life”

  1. What a brilliant read. Thanks for sharing this. You were so right that the world is the best classroom 🙂

    I also wrote about what solo travel has taught me and how it is taking my life story ahead. Do read my article and let me know if you like it 🙂

    • Thank you so much for reading Priyanka. Have a great week. 🙂

  2. This was such a refreshing savoury read.
    Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

  3. Love this post guys, so true. The yak butter tea and sun beams brought tears to my eyes as things from the heart often do, what a wonderful man he was! What has travel taught me? That no website, no book, no TV or radio program can equal the lessons of real travel. El Fuego puffing smoke in Antigua, a wild sloth flashing his smile from a tree in Costa Rica, sunrise over Ancient Messene, sunset over Santorini, drinking coffee, rakijah and making new friends from all over the world in Belgrade, being in the Philippines right now visiting friends I made at a conference in San Diego 2 years ago, oh the list could go on and on, just like travel, the never ending story. Travel on guys and keep writing.

  4. Great stuff again guys. Well said and captured. Have fun in Europe and hope to see and read your reviews soon.

  5. Really nice post, you perfectly get the point of traveling and the mindset of a traveler. I totally agree with your opinion about possessions, but the brainwash of the media creates the need to have more and more, but as soon as you have it, it gets thrown into a corner and never used again. Waste of money and space. Our trick is, we live with just enough stuff that we can fit in a car, ok since we have a baby we bought a rooftop box but we are still good and if we want to move somewhere else we just put everything in the car and we are good to go. The other thing I totally agree is cheap food stalls are better than fancy restaurants. During our trips we always try to look for places where the locals eat, maybe we are lucky but we never get sick… Very nice post, keep up your good work and enjoy your travels!

  6. I agree with so much of this! I have found that the longer that I live in Western civilization in between trips, I feel my thoughts and mindset being pulled away from the kind that you describe here, e.g. stuff is not happiness, appreciating the small things. Thanks for reminding me!

    • Thanks Chewy! Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  7. Hi Jazz and Lesh, once again, I agree with you! Specially in the point that “Possessions Do Not Equal Happiness”.
    As “recent” travellers that we are (only travelling since last October), it is fascinating how little we need on the everyday life!
    We plan on going back to our homeland (Portugal) next October and my biggest project is to keep that notion alive, that we don’t need all that junk!

    I guess there comes a point in your life when you are finally working, getting well paid and there’s that money in the bank account at the end of each month. So you buy buy buy, in order to fulfill yourself, get pampered for working hard!
    But do you really all of that ? What do they say about you, what do they mean ?
    Shouldn’t you save for your next trip or give it to someone who needs it ?

    Thank you for sharing and raising important questions!*

    • Very good points! I hope you can keep the spirit alive when you move back to Portugal 🙂

  8. Who’d have thought that sunrise and sunset would be such controversial topics. But yeah, I can’t agree with you on that point. While sunrises might be esthetically more pleasing and more optimistic, for me, getting up at 4am pretty much ruins everything that might happen that day, including the most stunning sunrises.

    • It definitely has proved to be quite controversial! It was even edited out of the piece when Yahoo Travel republished it, haha. I guess when we wake up for sunrise, we never have to then cycle for 200+ kilometres, so I don’t blame you for not liking them, haha.

  9. “running water never grows stale. Keep on flowing”.

    • Love it!

  10. Amazing post. Was a pleasure to read through it. You’ve definitely inspired me to get up earlier and watch the sunrise in each new place. Normally I don’t see those unless I’m out partying 😉 . Haha, but I’m a big fan of sunsets too. Hard to choose which I prefer.

    • Thanks so much Dave! Glad you enjoyed the post. Normally I only caught sunrises if I was partying or when I was back in my normal working life. Definitely a hard choice between the two though.

  11. I want to thank you for your article and it reminded me once again how incredibly fortunate I am to travel around the world.
    Your insight was 100% accurate as far as I’m concerned. I have learned a lot over the years from traveling and the biggest lesson of all is How much we are all the same.

    Traveling is a big part of my life and I will always continue to travel on.

    • Thanks so much for reading, and enjoying, our post Michael. Happy travels 🙂

  12. Hey, totally agree with you, since i have been traveling for more than 3 years, learning bit by bit everyday!! I am cycling in spain now. Btw, enjoy my hometown Hongkong!!! i wish i could host you guys if i were there! Safe travel

    • Thanks for reading Sean! We have loved Hong Kong. Maybe our paths will cross one day, somewhere in this beautiful world. Happy travels.

  13. Great post!
    I loved the point about “Everybody being on their own path”. Travel isn’t about competing with others for who is doing it “right”. There is no universal “right” and different people choose different types of travel. Travellers should embrace anyone who is willing to see the world and step out of their “box”, whether it be from a patio at their five-star hotel, or a crowded hostel down the street.

    • Perfectly said Sarah! Travellers should be more accepting of each other’s individual journey! Thanks for reading 🙂

  14. Hi Jazza & Lesh,
    You have (again) many good points there.
    I slightly disagree with “The Cheaper The Food, The Better It Tastes”: yes, street food is amazing. I had some fabulous experiences in many countries. But… exquisite cuisine is an amazing experience, and to me it is once in a while worth hacking your saving account to enjoy a special meal.
    As far as “Sunrises Are Better Than Sunsets”, I fully get your point but as a photographer, sunsets offer often a better light and more rewarding experiences. So I would argue that both are great, and that you should get up early and eventually take a rest at mid-day, when light is poor and potentially temperature high (and more tourists are out there).
    Cheers, Gilles

    • I have to admit, we haven’t had the opportunity to eat many exquisite meals lately. Perhaps we should splash out one somewhere to compare 🙂

      And definitely agree about the lighting aspect for photography at sunset. It definitely offers better opportunities. Thanks for reading Gilles!

      • Since you are in Europe, eat in France. I would have agreed with your food comment a couple of weeks ago, but food in France is unlike anything else. The best food we have found is in Lyon and Aix-en- Provence. Try Flair in Lyon and Mitch in Aix. Check out their FB pages to see pictures of their food.

  15. So true my friend! Keep on traveling!!!

    • Always 😀

  16. I love this. Especially the “everyone is on their own path” part. I think travellers and especially travel bloggers sometimes forget this lesson.

    • Exactly Tara! Not everyone wants to be a full-time nomadic adventurer. Doesn’t make their travels any less substantial. Thanks for reading 🙂

  17. I agree on your points here but I’m having a hard time gauging which is better, sunrise or sunset? Lol I love them both.

    Lovely photos, by the way! 🙂

    • Haha, that one may prove to be a bit controversial. Thanks for reading Shayne 🙂

    • You said it bro. Keep having fun guys and enjoy life to the fullest.

      • Thanks mate! Happy travels in Myanmar 🙂

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