RTW Trip: 7 Lessons Learned While Traveling
While traveling full time for the past 4 months, we’ve had a ton of time to learn from the people around us, read, and reflect on our lives here and at home. Here are 7 lessons we learned while traveling that we will take home with us:
1-The World Isn’t That Scary
Leaving the comfort of home to explore new and different places is inherently scary. In the U.S., we’re taught to worry about EVERYTHING—the food, pickpockets, transportation, terrorism, the list goes on and on. Turns out, the world isn’t that scary! If there’s one thing we will take away from this trip is that KINDNESS IS EVERYWHERE. No matter where we were traveling, we were met with smiling faces, helpful ears, and eager locals ready to share their cultures and homes with us. While frequently less developed and different than our lives at home, we were surrounded by amazing people, unbelievable landscapes, delicious food, fascinating history and exciting cultures.
Lesson learned: The world rules, don’t be scared of it!
2-You Don’t Have to be Rich to Travel
Surprise! Travel doesn’t have to expensive. Yep, you heard me right, you don’t have to stay at The Four Seasons, eat expensive dinners, or drink expensive wine to have a kickass vacation. There’s clever ways to cut down on the costs, like staying in hostels and Airbnbs, cooking your own food, and using credit card miles to pay for flights. We met tons of people that have way less than us, traveling way farther and more often than us.
Lesson Learned: Travel doesn’t take all the Benjamins, it takes a little hustle and a good attitude!
3-We Aren’t Special
We hopped on our flight out of the U.S.A all like Miley Cyrus thinking we were the bee’s knees—an American couple sticking it to the man to travel the world. Turns out, we aren’t special AT ALL. Actually, we’re kinda lame compared to many of the world travelers we met. The U.S. is way behind when it comes to prioritizing travel. While we’re all stuck in the rat race trying to accomplish “the American Dream”, our foreign counterparts are living it up exploring the globe. Most of the travelers we met were traveling for much longer than us and make time for long term travel way more often (picture month long trips to Asia every year).
Lesson learned: Prioritize time for exploring the world as it brings lessons and joy you don’t find in other places.
4-Save the Planet
Yes, I mean it, save the planet (coming from the girl that didn’t recycle, but now I will!!). While traveling, we were faced with many of the horrible effects that humans have on nature. We witnessed changing and extreme weather patterns leaving our favorite safari animals struggling to find water, sometimes causing death, learned about how koala numbers are dwindling due to deforestation, worried about shark attacks as they are coming closer to beaches more and more to find food in an ocean where prey is quickly dwindling, talked to disappointed scuba divers who traveled from across the world to dive just to be met with bleached coral reefs, and saw countless plants and trees destroyed by visitors standing on them for pictures or carving their name in the bark. We were constantly in awe at the beauty of nature surrounding us during our trip and had a reality check about how our actions impact our planet and the world around us.
Lesson learned: If we want to keep exploring (or even living on) our great planet we’ve got to take care of it!
5-Your Friends and Family Will be There
One of the hardest parts about traveling full time is leaving friends and family (& our dog….duh). While I suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) on the reg back in Chicago, we quickly realized that no matter how far from home you are, your friends and family will have your back. Through text, email, and Facetime, you get to bring your loved ones along for the ride with you! While not everyone will be your #1 fan when making a big life change, the ones that matter will.
Lesson learned: The people that love you most will be there to cheer you on during your greatest (and sometimes scariest) adventures.
6-When You’re Happy, Bad Habits Fade Away
I’m the QUEEN of bad habits—having an apartment that’s a mess, not working out, eating junk food, the list goes on and on. While traveling, we both quickly learned that when your days are exciting and enriched, these bad habits fade away. We were suddenly living a life where we were engaged in things we loved everyday. We didn’t have to exercise, we got to hike and swim. We didn’t need junk food, we got to enjoy fresh, local food. We didn’t need to drink every weekend to make up for our miserable weeks at work. Now, we know we can’t travel full time, but our time traveling taught us a lot about prioritizing happiness in our daily lives. How we spend our days is our own choice and it’s up to us to make the choices that make us happy. No one is going to give you the courage to finally pursue a new career, no one is going to move to a new place for you, you’ve got to think long and hard about what will make you happiest and go for it. We all have to go to work and do things we don’t want to do, but choosing to surround yourself with your favorite things everyday makes it all worth it. Whether it’s a new career or just walking through the park on the way home, make the choice to make room for happiness everyday.
Lesson learned: No one is going to bring the champagne brunch to you, you gotta go get it yourself!
7-Sometimes Less is More
While at home we’re surrounded with tons of STUFF. We went from an apartment and life jam packed with things to two backpacks and smiles. Turns out, we loved it! There’s something liberating about not wearing make-up, not thinking twice about what to wear in the morning, throwing thoughts about how others view you out the window, and living off of what’s on your back. Getting to see the Taj Mahal and only wearing pants with elastic waistbands for 4 months was a lot more fulfilling than a new purse, ya know? Not only did we love living a lighter life, we also witnessed many communities living the less-is-more lifestyle (sometimes without a choice). In countries like Laos and Vietnam, communities living in environments that would seem almost unlivable at home surrounded us, but they were some of the happiest people we’ve ever met. We’ve been forced to really reflect about what happiness means. Is it driving a nice car or being surrounded by family and friends? Is it climbing the social ladder or living a relaxed life in a small community? Is it making a ton of money or waking up to create something that you value and take pride in? There’s no right answer to any of these questions, but we learned to take a step back and really think about if our jobs, the people we surround ourselves with, and our experiences are buildings us up or tearing us down.
Lesson learned: Happiness is in the experiences you choose, not the things!