Traveling has taught me so much, both about myself and about our world. I’d like to share some things I’ve learned over the past 6 months of traveling. While some of these things are cliche, it took some of my recent experiences to really learn and understand them.
Attitudes are Contagious
And they really are everything. (Dad, I can hear your “I told you so” from here 😉 ) A good attitude can make the different between a bad day and a good one. Example: diving in Palau. Conditions the first day were miserable with massive waves that continuously plunked us on our bottoms and sideways sleet that hit us like little needles, but as one of the dive guides said, we had great vibes as a group. The next day, we had phenomenal weather, but the people on the boat seemed much more grumpy, or just uninterested. Even though the conditions were much better, the overall day couldn’t beat the one where everyone was so happy and positive. I have a million little anecdotes that all prove the same idea.
The Worst Experiences Make the Best Stories
This blog would probably be pretty boring if we only talked about the wonderful things that happen during our travels. Also, this one’s good to keep in mind whenever you feel like you’re living a travel horror story!
First Impressions Can Be Misleading
From my experience, they’re not usually accurate. I’m way too quick to judge others (constantly trying to get better about that) and I’m usually wrong with my initial judgments. I’ve been on boats with people who board and I immediately think they’re obnoxious or way too different from me; those same people have made my day so much fun, becoming my fast friends.
You (Almost Always) Get What You Pay For
This applies to everything: food, hotels, tours, transportation, destination. Sometimes it’s worth shelling out a few extra dollars for a great experience, faster transportation, or a clean room.
Making Friends is Easy While Traveling
People love talking about themselves. This includes me. If you want to make friends, just ask people questions and be a good listener.
The Best Way to Learn is to Listen
You can learn so much more from others than from guide books. The best tips we’ve gotten so far are either from travel blogs or conversations with other travelers. That being said…
Don’t Knock it Til You Try it
I’ve learned to give things a chance, no matter what others (reviews, personal stories) say. Everyone’s experience will be totally different depending on who they meet, where they go, where they stay, what they do, the weather while they’re there, their attitude towards life…the list is endless. Don’t write off a place or experience just because someone else gave it a bad review. Don’t believe everything you read. For example, we read lots of negative blog posts about Vietnam – how people felt constantly hassled and ripped off. We experienced nothing but kindness during our time in Vietnam.
You Don’t Need Much Money to Travel
…as long as you’re willing to compromise and/or sacrifice certain amenities. You can get hotels in Asia for less than your monthly rent back home, and they may even be nicer.
…But Know How Much You’ll Need
and budget accordingly. Make sure you have enough money to do what you want to do in each destination. As Pete wisely said to me on this trip, What’s the point of traveling if you’re not going to see or experience anything? You might as well stay home if you’re going to spend your entire time holed away in hotel rooms. If you’re going to Palau to scuba dive, for example, make sure you can afford the $100 dive trip to make your flight worth it.
Everything is Relative
Here’s an example. Pete and I started our Asia tour in Vietnam and Cambodia, which were so dirty – covered in trash and bogged down with air pollution. When we entered Thailand, we thought it was so clean and orderly. We had to stifle our laughter when we overheard an Australian woman talking about how dirty she thought Thailand was.
Do any of these resonate with you? Any ideas for what I’ll learn the next 6 months of traveling?