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What are 3 things traveling has taught you?

I'd love to hear your input of what traveling has taught you, how it's changed you or what you've discovered from embarking on your journey.

47 Answers

top answer by
Krista from San Francisco

This is such a good question, and it's awesome to ponder and reflect on the impact of seeing new things/having new experiences. My three things below:

  1. How to be 'scrappy'. Whether it was moving across the country to start over in a place that was regionally very different (New Hampshire to California) to spending time abroad and not speaking the native language, I found ways to utilize the experience, knowledge, and most basic skills I *did* have to make the most of each new experience.

  2. To trust myself (+ newfound confidence!). Theres something to be said for the confidence that comes from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and travel forces you to do this. I no longer feel contained to a small town life, or the US for that matter. I truly feel like I can go anywhere, do anything, and make it work! So freeing.

  3. To ask for help. Travel has a way of presenting situations that require asking for help, something I have always struggled with. From small things like catching a cab & asking for directions to big things like rentals, jobs, etc., learning how to simply ask for help (and sometimes trusting/relying on someone else!) has been invaluable for me. 

Looking forward to reading what others have taken from travel. Following this Q!

13 thanks

answered first by
Tiffany from Corvallis

1. To See

Before I lived overseas, I only saw beauty in the obvious places - the tourist guide stuff. Now, even in places that others find dull, I've been able to seek uniqueness, see beauty, and discover culture in the histories and people that make each place unique. Some find Calvert County a quiet, sleepy county south of Washington, DC, but it was there that I dredged for oysters, helped harvest tobacco, and attended the reburial of an African slave boy and the Oklahoma City that I lived in before has become a completely new place for me seeing it with new eyes and an insatiable curiosity to learn from places like the Chickasaw Cultural Center and even Stockyards City Main Street.

2. To Be Courageous

It isn't enough to see with the eyes. Travel has taught me to see through experience and some of those are scary. Sometimes it's little things like trying new foods because they're offered and I don't want to be rude... like eating chipirones (tiny squid cooked in their own ink) or snails in Valencia, pig ears in Albacete, or "lamb fries" in OKC.

Sometimes it's big adrenaline-rush things like a HALO dive in Orange (Virginia) ziplining in Harpers Ferry, or facing a bull in Pucol.

3. To Be Human

Travels teaches you empathy by showing you firsthand the heart of a place through its people. And by seeing the place and learning the history, you can understand, know, and love the people even more. That enables you to be exceedingly kind, to hug strangers, to share of yourself in new ways, and to participate in local events.

In Valencia, I made family, but that relationship began with a simple gift. The owner of my favorite bakery fell and broke her arm. My daughters painted a flower pot and I bought a plant to put inside. That simple gift to her opened the door for a friendship that endures still.

Volunteering with a medical team in Oaxaca, seeing people as people enabled me the love and empathy to reach out to them despite smells or differences that may have distanced me before.

Travel has been the best gift and education that I have been able to give my daughters, and through travels abroad, we've been able to apply those lessons and "travel" at home even better.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Calvert County (attraction)
  2. Washington, DC (city)
  3. Oklahoma City (city)
  4. Chickasaw Cultural Center (attraction)
  5. Stockyards City Main Street (attraction)
  6. Valencia (attraction)
  7. Albacete (attraction)
  8. Orange (Virginia) (city)
  9. Harpers Ferry (city)
  10. Pucol (city)
  11. Oaxaca (city)
12 thanks

answered by
Tony from Connecticut

#1) How beautiful the World is.

#2) How nice people can be to total strangers.

#3) How delicious food and wine is.

Keep and open mind and step-out of the American brand hotels. There's a lot to learn and enjoy from the rest of the World. Make friends with foreigners. Happy trails.

10 thanks

answered by
Carolann from Around The World

Really great question! We reflect on this a lot actually and feel like we have grown so much as individuals and a couple through travel. Three specific things that travelling has taught us though, are:

1. To be patient. We spend a lot of time trying to get from one place to another and it often involves waiting for one reason or another. Whether we are in queue to buy tickets, in line to board a plane, train or bus, (or get off of said plane train or bus), waiting for a delayed flight, in line at a night market for a popular stand, or attempting to communicate with someone who speaks another language, our patience gets tested on a regular basis - especially when we are travel-weary, hungry and tired. We've slowly become more patient and able to maintain our calm in a variety of situations.

2. That people are generally good and willing to help. It's true that it's important to be aware of your surroundings, scams and other potential dangers while travelling, but we've learned that the world is not such a scary place afterall. There have been so many situations where a stranger has helped us, many even gone out of their way. People we have just met have loaned us their phones, walked us to a location we couldn't find, driven us places, fed us, and even housed us. There is a lot of good out there and we've become more open to noticing it and accepting it.

3. To be fearless. The unknown can be frightening. Heading to a new destination with a completely different culture and language, a new system of transportation and new etiquette, can be scary. Travel forces you to face the fear of what's-to-come head on, to be more present in the moment and to take things as they come. There's always going to be some nervousness associated with leaving a place you are comfortable with and heading to someplace new but the anxiety becomes more about the excitement of the journey and less about the fear of the unknown.

10 thanks

answered by
Gina from Minneapolis

Travel has been the greatest collective educational experience of my life. With every trip, I am both enriched and humbled, because I realize there will never be any end to the learning. These are three of my favorite lessons:

1. To be flexible. I have a strong natural inclination to research the crap out of a place and then make plans according to what I find. Travel has taught me that I need to chill out and let things happen. If I can't get into that one guest house that I read about, it's OK and I might even end up finding a better place. I've also learned to be flexible about things like getting fleas, because, well, some places you go, you're just going to get them. There are ways to get rid of them, so take it in stride. 

2. Getting dirty makes me happiest. I don't mean this in the sense that I have to go roll in the mud or something—it's more getting dirty as a side effect, then not caring about it. I've found that when I get out into a place, hike along a muddy track, sit in a dirty bus, wander down a dusty road or generally do things that are going to leave my bags grimy and my face in need of a wash, I'm always having the best time. I grew up in a family that didn't really do that sort of thing on vacation, preferring to stay in fancier places with all mod cons—turns out that's not my jam after all! Bring on the road dirt! 

3. There's always something interesting, even in unexpected places. I'll admit that I've been dismissive of wide swaths of my own country, thinking (unfairly) that there would be nothing to interest me. But I've learned that there is always, always, something of interest—you just have to be willing to open your mind and sometimes do a bit of digging to find it. The rewards that come with looking beneath the surface are very rich.

9 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Rasto from Edmonton

1. That I need very little to be happy. Doesn't matter for how long I will be gone, I still travel with 10kg carry on and small shoulder bag. The less I have, the less I have to worry about.

2. The more you travel, the more you understand the world and why things are working or not working as they should be. Traveling is like continuous education you pay for and eventually benefit from.

3. To avoid resorts and touristy places since they don't give you genuine taste of culture, but artificial environment built to suit visitors, and local people with altered behavior focused many times aggressively on money.

7 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Christian from Madagascar

Good question,

1. Never show how much money or luxury you have on you

2. Be humble with your guest / country culture, religion and usages

3. Discover the country you visit, but always let someone know what you're doing.

Hope can help,

Sorry for my bad english.

6 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Spencer from Los Angeles

Love this question.

1. Never trust a taxi driver. I don't think I need to expound here. 

2. Travel really is the greatest classroom of life. Like every sense is heightened when you're traveling and you're on your toes like never before. I really don't think there's anything we can do as adults that captures the wonder of our childhood like travel does.

3. Most of the best travel moments are unplanned. Spontaneity really is the spice of life, but it's also where travel is at its best. We can plan and plan for a trip until every moment of every day is planned, but if a trip is so predictable, then it doesn't leave any room for the extraordinary, which is often a by-product of those unpredicted moments of travel. 

5 thanks

answered by
Kim from Canada

1.) Travelling solo has taught me that I need people. As much as I want to think of myself as a strong independent woman who can handle anything on my own, my life is richer and more meaningful because of my friends and family.

2.) Magical moments can be found all over the world in the most mundane situations if you open your eyes and witness. 

3.) I am capable of so much if I only challenge myself. Travelling is full of high highs, and low lows and the experiences stretch me to be a more authentic version of myself. 

5 thankscomments (2)

answered by

1.  There are more similarities around the world than we realize.  Because travel is a great learning experience, it's important to see both the commonalities and differences everywhere we go.  I'm amazed at the number of similarities I see when leaving the US. 

2.  Spend time with the residents of the countries you visit.  There is so much to be shared with each other.  Visit local restaurants vs. tourist restaurants.  Eat the local food.  Delve into the experience. I believe they are as willing to share information as travelers are in obtaining it.

3.  Practice patience and don't be afraid to ask for help when needed.  The world doesn't always go at our pace, so we need to be patient and feel the experience.  When needing help from the locals, just ask and I believe you will be surprised at how willing they are to provide it.  

3 thanks

answered by

What travel has taught me and how I have changed:

Traveling light is not for everyone.  I did that when I was younger and more mobile.  But just because I need to check baggage and need help getting around, that doesn't mean that I have to give up traveling.

2 thankscomments (1)

answered by

1) Don't sweat the small stuff.

In the world view, almost everything is small stuff.

2) Have a plan, but be prepared to jump ship if something better appears

And if the plan fails, don't be afraid to ask for help

3) Don't be ashamed to revert to the familiar if you need to.  You don't need to eat calamari and snails or fish eyeballs for every meal.  You can have an occasional hamburger or fish sticks without it disqualifying your trip experience

2 thanks

answered by
Fritzi from San Francisco

1. Flush toilets and hot running water are very important to me. 

2. I would rather travel than raise kids. 

3. I am happiest on the road (as long as there are toilets).

2 thanks

answered by
Ross from Fort Collins

Don't stress the small stuff 

delays can be the best part of a trip

travel light and never check a bag 

2 thanks

answered by
John from Kaua'i

How to relate to people of any culture without words

How to be comfortable alone

How to find what one needs anywhere

Travel now not later 

2 thanks

answered by

1.  Let your gut be your guide.  Most of the time you will either have a great experience or avoid frustration and bad experiences.

2.  Expect the unexpected.  Pack as many emergency items as you can.  Recently I read about duct tape.  It can fix a lot of things, especially shoes that fall about unexpectedly.  Wrap a small amount around a fat permanent marker, make sure to put it in your checked luggage, could be a red flag for security.  Marker could come in handy also.

3.  Ask for help, most people are happy to assist.  Just be aware that some cultures will say they know, don't and will tell you something even thought it may be wrong or misleading or will tell you what you want to hear.

2 thanks

answered by
Richard from Costa Rica

1. The World is smaller than we think it is and we each make a difference

2. The Worlds people and nature are more special than we will ever know

3. The difference your love for them all makes is Bigger than you will ever imagine

2 thanks

answered by
Elizabeth from Mississippi

1. To be open to other cultures and go where the locals go. 

2. Take pictures of where you are staying and a pic of the street sign of where you are staying. 

3. If you are from the USA set a good example because a lot of ppl in other countries think Americans are arrogant and spoiled.

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answered by
Jon from Kalispell

Be humble, listen, learn.  Respecting others will take you inside their culture.  Enjoying them together makes memories.

1 thanks

answered by
Susan from Boston

1. Get lost. Literally. The best thing that happened to me was getting lost, alone in a country where I didn't speak one word of the language, and English was rare. I got really lost by accident once, and panicked, trying to figure out getting back on track. I am SO directionally challenged. I had a coffee, pulled out my books and maps and got home. So now I'll take time to just wander around. I know I'll be able to find my way. 


2. If you're in a non English speaking country, learning even the basics : good Morning, Please and Thank you goes a long way. Whether we like it or not, Americans have a crappy rep overseas. Be an ambassador for the good in us. Don't worry if you don't sound perfect. Do your best. 


3. You don't need a ton of money. Taking public transport has given me the best, cheapest tours of some beautiful places. Take transportation to the end of the line ( if it's interesting and safe) and wander back. The # 24 bus in London goes from Hampstead to Victoria. Get a top seat and look for interesting places to stop. Tram 22 in Prague, is basically a tour of the city. Take it to the Castle and walk from the Lesser Town to the Old Town. Enjoy. Be open. Be appreciative of the opportunity you have.

1 thanks

answered by

Three things would be:
1. Enjoy your life, since every day can be your last one
2. Don't be afraid to do what you want
3. Meeting new people is the best thing ever.

In the other words, traveling is my passion. I love it so, so much! This summer I am going to Mongolia and I will try to enjoy the trip as much as possible. I even bought a tour. I hope it will be nice. Moreover, I always recommend to be happy and smile in every case :)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Mongolia (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by

A.  Prepare, but have a plan B. 

B.  Let go of your expectation and be ready to enjoy what is there

C.  Be interested in people, because people are the most interesting part of a trip.

And if you see something that you love, buy it immediately and don't try to look for a better price elsewhere.   Because inevitably you will get so wrapped up in looking for a better price that you will be at the end of the trip and going home and have no way to go back and get that thing.

answered by
Bill from Detroit, Michigan

First and foremost, RESPECT THE LOCALS! Respect their culture, mores and folkways, and if you have nothing good to say... keep your mouth shut... even in gest!

There are two kinds of sightseeing. Natural and man-made.

When you are touring the Louvre, or Notre Dame, don't act like you are in Yankee stadium.

1 thanks

answered by
Katerina from Los Angeles

Great question with an array of insightful answers!

1) This world is huge and worth exploring. Each place has its own inner beauty, which makes it unique.

2) People are alike everywhere. We all want to love and be loved in return.

3) When exploring, an open mind and heart in different places will teach you so many things that you would not learn otherwise. These lessons and eye openers will carry you through life and remain with you at home when you are not traveling, but will better you and strengthen you as an individual.

1 thanks

answered by
jurriaan from Amsterdam

1) It has taught me that the Western tradition of using toilet paper and nothing else, is regarded as filthy in many countries that we would consider as '3rd World'. And it's hard to disagree: if you had a piece of excrement on your face, would you suffice with a paper wipe? The Western world needs more bidets. 2) Luxury is less important than good company. 3) Freedom is more rewarding than security.

1 thanks

answered by

I've learned to pack light and loose. I've also learned to be flexible regarding changes and I've learned to be open to meeting unexpected people.

1 thanks

answered by
wassim from Beirut

1- I love planning my travels, from choosing my destination to the accommodation, to packing... everything! the feeling of knowing that you're embarking on a new adventure and not knowing what is really coming is so exciting for me!

2- Traveling alone can be very therapeutic and exhilarating, you'll have time to reflect on your thoughts, you get to do whatever you feel like doing whenever you want, you'll pay much more attention to the details of your surroundings because you're less distracted and you will appreciate every moment of your time.

3- It is actually easy to make friends or at least have good encounters and people are pretty open and chilled.

1 thanks

answered by
1. the world is too big
2. people are completely different 
3. other travelers are already friends 

answered by
Jon from Kalispell

The wondering monks of the ancient Orient were those who knew best how to travel.  I have tried to direct my experiences in travel toward what I know of them.  

Three things I have learned:

1) A good traveler leaves no tracks (Chinese proverb)

2) Do not make haste

3) Openness is the best teacher while traveling

answered by

I love to see how small the world actually is when I travel. I encourage friends to look for all the familiar things and all the different things and they will see how alike we are in many ways. 


I would encourage people to get out with the "natives" wherever they travel, especially when looking for places to eat. You can learn a lot by watching the locals. 


Never be afraid to ask for help. People around the world are really friendly and helpful, but we have to reach out or they can't know what we need.

answered by

hmm great question..

1. traveling alone makes you think much. then it lets you acknowledge that what you really need is relationship. on the road, you can meet strangers who is willing to share experiences.

2. people are kind enough to help you no matter what continent.

3. before a trip, it might feel like a task to do and needs time for planning and all that. but when on road, you'll experience a whole different story.

that's why

there may be one who didn't travel

but there's no one who travelled once.

answered by
Alexandra from Brussels, Belgium

1) You don't need all those stuff. 

2) You're never really in problems, there's always someone there to help you. People are actually nice. 

3) Don't try to see it all. It's the place you discover when you don't rush in touristic attractions that will take your breath away. 

answered by
Linda from Abington

1.  That we're more alike than different

2.  Eating local food makes you understand the culture (and realize how adultered that same food is in the U.S.)

3.  If you're considerate of others, smile, learn some of their customers, they will meet you more than 1/2 way and make your trip more than fantastic!

answered by
Courtney from San Diego
  • Improvisation - Learning to be flexible and to improvise according to circumstances while you're traveling is a mere part of the big picture. Traveling has taught me that life is improvisation. People are characters. Villages, cities and mega-metropolises are stages. Life's a show that I want to watch! And buy more (airplane) tickets for! 
  • Memories are everything and nothing - We are so obsessed with keeping track, snapping photos and collecting souvenirs but you can't really take experience with you. Traveling has taught me that being a writer is as close as I'll ever get to remembering the little things but that most of the little things are best for the moment you experience them. Be present! 
  • There's no place like home - At the end of a trip, a vacation, or adventure I never want to come home. But I go home and it's different, and it's better than as I left it- every time. 

answered by
Lynn from Lafayette, Indiana

1. How much of the stress in our lives is "self-inflicted". Others live with so much less and are so much happier. Learn from them to "chill".

2. That my opinion is just that... mine. Others do not have the same one I do,  and perhaps have a better take on the issue.

3. People in any culture have a set of values that make sense of life for them. Respect that!

answered by
Linda from Ephrata, Pennsylvania

This is a great question.  I live to travel and have often reflected on why it is so important to me. I think that those of us that suffer with insatiable wanderlust are simply incredibly curious and want to see and learn everything we possibly can in the short life we are given.  Only traveling can help to answer any questions we have about people or places in the rest of the world.  Traveling has taught me many things but three that come to mind are -

1.  Put aside any preconceived ideas about a place; by having an open mind you will learn the uniqueness of the places you are visiting.  Adapt to the places you are visiting.  Don't go to New York and wish it were calm and quiet like your small home town.  Don't go to Paris and wish there were ice in your drink.  Don't go to Latin America and wish everything started on time.

2.  As much as possible, be part of the place you are visiting and not a tourist.  Talk with the locals, shop in their stores not the touristy ones, ask them what restaurants, etc. they like and then go there.  Most people are friendly and happy to start a conversation.   

3.  When you travel, leave your stuff at home.  You are traveling to see, not to be seen. You really don't need multiple pieces of jewelry, shoes, or a different outfit for every day.  Use the hotel sink to wash out clothes, dress neatly, don't wear big white sneakers in Europe or anywhere else but your gym at home, and you will be fine.

answered by
Sean from Hudson Valley
  1. Be prepared and make concise plans.
  2. At times it's better to throw out your plans and just dive in head first.
  3. Don't try to do it all, and doplan to go back.

answered by
Kelly from Massachusetts

I like to think that when we travel I'm teaching my kids:  

1) Independence  

2) Exploring different places.  

3) budgeting & navigation skills.

answered by
Ashley from Calgary

1. Resilience is key. For most people, there will be at least one instance where a plan goes to shit or something unexpected happens and you can't let it ruin your day or your trip. I've missed planes and trains, showed up to museums that are closed on the only day I could attempt to visit them, been rained out, lost train tickets, had money stolen, etc., and the first few times it happened I almost lost my mind but you soon realize it isn't the end of the world. Being able to "roll with the punches" or at least be flexible with plans is a great asset when you travel, but also in life.

2. You need to make the experience your own. It's great to read up on the MUST SEES, MUST DOS and MUST EATS everywhere you go, and learning from other people's experiences can be very valuable, but you can drive yourself a bit crazy doing it. If you pick and choose everything based on what someone else liked or disliked you aren't always going to be experiencing what you want to experience.

If you don't particularly like modern art, why go to the modern art museum just because someone said it was amazing? If you hate wine, why do a wine tasting tour just because you're in France? If you like shopping, who cares what people might say, go shopping. If you like jazz but you're in the land of mariachi, don't be afraid to go to a jazz bar instead!

I can't tell the number of times I've been to places people said I needed to check out and I've been very disappointed, but also places people said sucked that I ended up enjoying. You really need to remember it's your life, your trip and you should be doing what you want to do. 

3. Stop thinking about what you missed out on and appreciate what you have done. I am guilty of looking back on trips and listing off all the things we didn't get to see or food we forgot to try and stewing in regret. Fortunately, as time goes on, I've learned to reflect on travels differently and say, "WOW can you believe all of the laughs we had and all of the beautiful churches we saw? Can you believe we tried that smelly cheese?!" instead of "Ugh I didn't have time to go to all of the museums or try the the frog legs -- how disappointing!"

answered by
Richard from Costa Rica

I have learned that love and respect for the simple human being gets the best out of everyone and every situation. Miracles happen when people behave "irrationally" in response to real human needs despite the absence of the normal trappings of travel such as money, reservations or even language and social barriers. It is even possible to trick people to treat you nice but you can never fool that ever present force that seems to look out for genuinely caring people. Have fun and pay that love forward.

answered by
Maria from Dublin

1. To be spontaneous, the best things in life are unplanned.

2. That most people, wherever you go, are kind and helpful.

3. To seek and see beauty in all kinds of unexpected places. 

answered by
Hazel from Port St. Lucie

I bring $200 to tip with. I tell everyone this is the best place i have ever been. No complaining.

answered by
Jae from Singapore

1. That people can be great and terrible anywhere you go. 


2. The things that annoy you at home are simply changed to different things that may annoy you somewhere else. 


3. If you can't find happiness at home, it's not likely to be lurking right around the corner when you travel.

answered by
Yoana from Santa Ana

1. Don't pack too much (you might have to haul your luggage far by walking. They lost our luggage so we had to go go back via train to pick it up from the airport and no taxi from train to hotel) 2. Don't expect too much (we saw the Mona Lisa portrait, it was pretty small. Most gorgeous pictures online aren't what they seem, but the experience is ALWAYS pleasant.) 3. Travel with others. (We were stuck in Italy once, we did not know a single word. Good thing we were a pack of 4. I would have freaked out if it was just my fiancé and I. They were screaming at us at one point.) 4. Most of the world knows Spanish/English.

answered by

Hello Kellett,

Travelling is the only median currently available in the universe to refresh your mind, thoughts,behavior,attitude etc

The first and foremost is your confidence , a better decision making,willingness to adopt in short notice, keeping aside all your regional skills.

Learn to Love, I believe the second important one is your simplicity to learn to love others culture, food, people etc ,which only physical travelling can help, becoz you express it ! As a child ,once asked two female traveler from France sitting in front of a boat taking snaps and enjoying the beauty of Kerala, Alleppey, are there no rivers in your country! She laughed and gave me a cadbury.

Take back home, Finally when you travel for days together from one destination to other you have to face good and bad, sweet and harsh memories, expectations and reality. Probably can differentiate between better , best and excellent.

answered by
Liam from London

Be open to experience...any experience...anything that is different to what you know is good.

answered by
Ruth from Utah

1. Not to judge another's traditions, food, and clothing.

2. You can have friends from each place you visit.

3. Less is more when you are packing to travel.

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