My Top Travel Lessons (So Far!)
As a frequent traveller, I can hardly imagine my life being any other way. People usually say that travel is an enriching experience. And as much as I’ve impulsively booked flights (once only 19 hours before takeoff), I’ve never regretted buying those tickets and jetting off. Not just because of the things I got to see and do, but also because of how travel has shaped the way I see the world.
Here are some of my top travel takeaways, and those of 3 fellow bloggers.
Travel teaches you to not sweat the small stuff.
I started traveling solo when I was 18. The first trip I took was to New York City and pretty much every logistical detail went wrong. I took the night bus from Montreal, and got stuck at the US border for 4 hours, because someone on the bus didn’t have a visa. Once in town, I took the subway in the wrong direction and emerged, completely lost, at Columbus Circle, where I had to grab a cab.
When I got to the hotel, there was no record of my reservation – fortunately, they had a spare room. To top it all off, my flight home was cancelled, and I had to spend the night at La Guardia. I remember this cold, sheer panic seep through me. And sobbing somewhat uncontrollably on the phone to my mom.
But through all the chaos in my sheltered, 18-year-old mind, I learned something. Nothing was actually terrible wrong. I had the time of my life in New York that weekend, and I had a story to tell.
A few years later, I was boarding a flight in Melbourne, Australia. I overheard the woman in front of me say, “as long as you have your passport and credit cards, everything will be okay”. No truer travel advice was ever given. Don’t sweat the details, or the delays. You’re in it for the adventure! As long as you have your passport! This was one of the first top travel lessons I learned.
Travel teaches you your limits.
More recently, I figured out that I’m not a budget traveller. I like a good deal as much as the next person. But if I’m going to see a new city, I want to do it in conditions that are comparable to those I have at home. Or better ones, because I’m on holiday.
In an attempt to budget, I cancelled a hotel reservation for a weekend in Amsterdam and booked a hostel instead. But when I got to the hostel, I had minor panic attack (if you know me, you know I’m a total princess). I was forced to confront the fact that I wouldn’t be comfortable in a 4-bed dorm in a hostel without working internet in the Red Light District.
Of course, at that point, most hotels were booked so I ended up spending much more that I initially would have. I should have just kept my original reservation. This being said, I absolutely adored my stay in Amsterdam. And my time at the gorgeous Hilton overlooking the water was an integral part of that stay. I’m not a hostel person, but now that I know that, I can plan accordingly.
Travel as a window to human nature.
While travelling, I’ve met the kindest, most selfless people. I’ve also met the worst. As an expat in Germany, complete strangers have helped me in more ways than I could have imagined.
A few months ago, it was getting really cold in Berlin, and I knew I would need my Canadian winter coat. So I posted an ad on an expat group, asking if anyone was travelling to my hometown and could bring it back. Sure enough, I got a response from a kind stranger, my coat, and a new friend.
On the flip side, when you’re not on your home turf, you’ve got to look out for scams that you might be more likely to spot in a familiar setting. Someone I know recently lent money to a stranger while traveling together. Then the stranger disappeared without a trace, even from social media. While these things can happen at home, the transient nature of travel makes it harder to hold people accountable.
Top travel lessons from fellow bloggers
I was curious and asked other bloggers what their top travel lessons were. Here are some of the responses.
Mental preparation is everything.
“Prepare yourself as much as possible for the emotional aspects of your trip; culture shock, language barrier, lack of Internet service and being away from home and everything familiar for a long time. The mental preparation can help make the trip’s inevitable bumps smoother,” says Ella from Wide-Eyed Wanderer.
Travel and planning go hand-in-hand.
“Travel has taught me about currencies, how to compute the standard of living in a country and then set the budget for my travel. It has taught me to be shrewd when it comes to finding out where I am staying, what I am eating, how I will be getting from one place to another,” says Alyssa of Liz on Top of the World.
You understand yourself and your own culture better.
“Travel helps us learn so much about ourselves and our own culture, how differently we can act or think, but at the same time how we are all strangely similar. Travel lets us take a critical look at who we are, while making us better people,” says An Expat Diary‘s Alessandra.
What did you learn about yourself or the world by travelling? Share your top travel lessons in the comments!