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have you learned anything from traveling?


Thorn Tree Refugee
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Joined: September 16th, 2008

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  • Added on: October 4th, 2008
Once the travel bug bites you, you can pretty much kiss your "normal life" (whatever that is) goodbye....or so the saying goes.
At least for me, this saying is true, since I spent a good portion of the last 15 years on the road.

There were so many things I learned in this time. Especially lately, I've been trying to understand the question of "WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU LEARN FROM TRAVELING?"

One of the things I realized is that I learned to let go of some of my pre-conditioned ways of thinking and enjoy the infinite differences between cultures. I began to trust in myself and my instincts. This in turn gave me a new feeling of freedom and the strength and confidence to push my personal boundaries and do things I never would have thought possible before I went traveling (e.g. hitchhiking 3,000 kilometers, sleeping in caves, diving with sharks, climbing a 6,000-meter mountain, etc.). All of these travel experiences have had a profound effect on my views of myself and the world in which I live.

Have you done things “on the road” that surprised even yourself?
Were there key turning points in your travel experience, such as “humps” you need to get over or important realizations you had along the way (about yourself or the world in which we live)?


Extra Pages in Passport
Posts: 3454
Joined: November 19th, 2004

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  • Added on: October 23rd, 2008
I have many examples.

I used my experience in good measure a few days ago. A woman asked me what I thought poverty really was.

I said

"Poverty is when you work all day for the next days food"

It kind of shut her up.

I hadn't known such things existed until I travelled, oh I knew, but I hadn't SEEN.

BTW, I don't go looking for poor places just to see it again!!


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Street Food Connoisseur
Posts: 580
Joined: November 23rd, 2007

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  • Added on: October 24th, 2008
In my late teens and early twenties I travelled around the country, Poland where I lived. A small bag (not even a rucksack) and little money. It was hitch-hiking, sleeping in barns, or at friends' I just met. That was fun.
Then I travelled more, accross Europe and around the world.
I realised only later that that taught more than how to find a place to sleep and something to eat. I learnt how to find my way in changing situations, different circumstances, and in a new place.

There's that old Polish saying "podróże kształcą", which simply means "travel is education".
gdzie mnie wiatr poniesie


Holds PhD in Packing
Posts: 136
Joined: November 26th, 2007

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  • Added on: November 3rd, 2008
for the last 8 months, I have lived a life without any expectations- from anyone, any place, anything- that’s what been different and that has made all the difference.
It makes me value things I get and things I have.

i can recall a few specific events (e.g. a little girl, who lost everything in a cyclone, offered the only candy she had to me)that moved me but mostly, the lessons were gradual more than a sudden, dramatic moment in time.

as someone who was born and raised in India but "grew up" in the US, I wasn't as shocked and overwhelmed by the open display of poverty as a westerner would be. i saw it earlier but with my eyes closed. traveling made me open my eyes, on some level.

for sure, i have constantly surprised myself on the road, which is a pleasant surprise in itself.


Knows What a Schengen Visa Is
Posts: 391
Joined: December 19th, 2007

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  • Added on: November 27th, 2008
Travel made me realise just how fortunate we are in the West. There are millions of people in this world who don't know where their next meal is coming from or where they will sleep at night or have any hope of a happy future. There is a saying in Singapore, when the working stops the eating stops.


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Posts: 859
Joined: November 8th, 2007
Location: California

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  • Added on: December 10th, 2008
Jeanie99, what you said is so true.

I've always been a restless person. When I was in my 20s I had what I felt was a crummy job working as a clerk in a utility company. Actually it paid quite well and I was able to save up money for my dream trip across Africa. The company even granted me a leave for six months to go on my trip.

My big turning point came when I was talking to someone I met on the Zaire riverboat. He asked me about my life and I told him I was a clerk for a utility. He said "Someday I hope to be a clerk."

That's when it really hit me. Here I was, a "lowly clerk in America" and I could travel across Africa and live very well. There was no way that my new friend would ever be able to travel to the US on a clerk's salary, and to him a clerk's salary was a big dream.

I also met a university professor in the Central Republic of Africa. He had an apartment with a view of palm trees. It was luxury living in Bangui. He served us imported pears which were also very special to him. These luxuries were something I take for granted back home in the US.

When I came home, I looked for an apartment with a view of a palm tree. The palm tree was to remind me of Africa and how fortunate I am. And every home I've had since has a palm tree in view. It helps me remember to be thankful for the wealth I have and to be appreciative of little things, like pears.

nancy sv

Holds PhD in Packing
Posts: 282
Joined: March 14th, 2008

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  • Added on: January 8th, 2009
I've learned that it doesn't matter what color your skin is, what language you speak, or how much money you have in the bank - you still understand that our basic NEEDS are food, water, and a place to sleep. It's been wonderful traveling around the world in bicycles, where our needs are reduced to exactly that - and to see how people the world over are willing to reach out and provide for our needs.
Join our family we cycle from Alaska to Argentina! www.familyonbikes.org


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Street Food Connoisseur
Posts: 632
Joined: April 12th, 2007

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  • Added on: January 21st, 2009
I live on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Hurricane Ike hit us hard. People were acting like the world had ended just because we had no electricity or water in the faucets. If you've been a few places where those things don't exist at all, you can cope just fine.
The feature I most value in a pack is a Sherpa.


Thorn Tree Refugee
Posts: 1
Joined: May 1st, 2005
Location: Port Townsend, WA

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  • Added on: February 12th, 2009
I agree with Nancy sv about the basics. I started serious international traveling late - I went in the Peace Corps at 56. I have been fortunate to travel to, and work in, over 38 countries in the intervening years. The major thing I have learned is how much we citizens of the world are alike. In conversations in IDP tents in Afghanistan, old Soviet era apartments in the war-torn Balkans and suburban coffee shops in the US the desires I hear most about are security for our familiies and education for our children.


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Holds PhD in Packing
Posts: 278
Joined: April 21st, 2008
Location: Oslo, Norway

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  • Added on: March 1st, 2009
I've learned that no matter what happens, as long as you don't panic there is always a solution to any problem and always a way to get out of any bad situation.

This is good knowledge to lean on when you're back home and you meet the everyday challenges at work or in the lives of yourself and your friends and family.

You can of course learn this by encountering and conquering obstacles at home, but I find that in general life in my own country is not as filled with challenges as a trip through less blessed parts of the world typically will be.



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Squat Toilet Professional
Posts: 768
Joined: June 24th, 2007
Location: Lake Forest Park, Washington

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  • Added on: March 23rd, 2009
The thing I've learned from traveling is that the journey is to be experienced and relished at each moment, not the end of the trail or the destination end point of the day. This really helps when I'm on a hard trail, I'm tired, it's hot, and i'm feeling like I would like it to end. You all know the feeling.

It's times like this that i remind myself that the journey is like your life. No sense in rushing to get to the end.

And that really helps me get through all the tribulation that is involved in travel, be it the witing in lines at airports, or the long uncomfortable bus ride. It's all part of life and so with a little shift in perspective i can get myself into a better frame of mind


Holds PhD in Packing
Posts: 154
Joined: August 16th, 2006
Location: San Leandro, CA, USA

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  • Added on: April 27th, 2009
What have I learned? I learned I should have started travelling earlier, ha ha.

Seriously though, it's opened my eyes to some very beautiful things. It also made me realize how little I know about the world around me and how much I want to know these things. It also made me enjoy and love life that much more. When you are constantly in a day dream of where you want to go next, scenes from movies/pictures/books that have sparked your fancy, nostalgia for places you've been, there just seems to be so much more to look forward to and get you through the day. The interesting thing is, even when I go into the City for a night out with friends or just to have a cup of coffee, I try to see it through the eyes of tourist, I treat every little jaunt like a micro-trip, even though it's close to home. It's made life a lot more interesting and exciting.
"What the hell is wrong with you C3-PO? We're here to see Europe not some crappy statue" (Eurotrip)


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Holds PhD in Packing
Posts: 110
Joined: September 17th, 2001
Location: Based in Manila & Boracay Island Philippines

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  • Added on: August 8th, 2009
Traveling teaches you about human nature, about how narrow minded and brainwashed the majority of human beings are raised by their parents, teachers and societies and taught only what one's own culture holds important, about HOW TO SURVIVE and HOW TO COMMUNICATE without friends and family near, without being in one of the wealthier G20 nations and when nobody speaks one's own language and how diverse and exciting living life "on the road" can be.
Feel FREE to ask us questions about living, relocating & traveling in the Philippines; learn more by visiting our website.


Lost in Place
Posts: 93
Joined: September 8th, 2008

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  • Added on: August 9th, 2009
I haven't travelled all that much compared to many of you here. I only really caught the bug 4 years ago but I've been busy in that time. My concentration, so far, as been on Europe and (unfortunatly) I can't see myself visiting many places south. I don't handle heat well (redhead, very sensitive to the sun and known for getting heat stroke in as little as 20c weather). I got sick this past May in Berlin and the temp didn't get over 18c in the day :(

But what I have learned these past 4 years is that I'm smarter and braver than I ever thought. My first solo trip was to England and Scotland and I went for a month. Not exactly challenging countries but it was a huge step for me. It gave me enough courage to change my life when I returned to Canada. I left my job and moved away from the only home I ever knew. I took on a new job with much greater responsability and I've continued to travel. I've gone twice more to Europe and done some major road trips to the US. I find I'm much more of a "I will" woman than I was before.

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