55 Lessons Learned from a Life of Travel

Travel, is it just about checking places off your list and taking your I was here photo, or is it about something more?

For me, for the past 15 years, travel has been a story of personal enrichment.

It’s how I’ve learned about the world: it’s natural wonders, diverse cultures, history, and traditions. But, more importantly, it is how I’ve learned to discover who I really am and how I fit within the greater world.

I believe this discovery helps us to become more balanced, whole and appreciative of all living things and our interconnectedness.

Here are 55 lessons I have learned from my life of travel that have helped me to grow into, what I think, is a person who lives an empowered life.

1. Deep down the essence of who we are as human beings is the same. This is all that matters. The outside differences are there to learn from and celebrate without fear.

2. There is absolute joy and wonder to be had in the simplest of moments: swinging in a hammock on the beach while watching the sunset over the horizon, for example.

3. The more we own, the more enslaved we become.

4. Fulfillment comes from memorable moments and loving relationships, not stuff.

5. Negotiation, business transactions and even personal relationships should always be conducted with the mutual belief in it being a win-win result.

6. The more you help others, the more you get in return.

7. A smile, a wave, and a friendly attitude can break down any barrier and create friendships where language isn’t understood.

8. Kindness is a universal language.

9. You are powerful beyond measure. You never know what you are capable of until you push your barriers of comfort, even if it’s just a little bit each day.

10. Fear can be a guiding friend if you learn how to swallow it, and listen to it only when it serves its true purpose of warning you when you are in danger.

11. Mother Nature knows everything. Turn to her more to help ease your medical discomforts and your mental anguishes.

12. When things frighten you, the best way to do what needs to be done is “1… 2… 3… jump!” Don’t give yourself time to talk yourself out of it.

13. The purpose of life is to live in joy and through love.

14. Life is constantly changing. Setting up rigid rules and expectations will leave you disappointed.

15. Don’t over plan. Jump in the boat and let the river take you for an amazing ride. You will get to the ocean eventually and it will be way more fun.

16. Don’t be afraid to speak to strangers, the majority of them are out to help you, not hurt you.

17. People are generally good.

18. Never let society, or other people determine how you should live your life. Only you know what is best for you

19. Question everything until you understand it. Never just believe or accept because that is the way it’s done.

20. You will never stop learning until you stop living.

21. God wants you to have a happy life and does not want you to suffer. But your happiness is up to you.

22. God lives in everything. You don’t need to go to a church or a temple, or pray five times a day to find her. You just need to know yourself and pay attention to what’s happening around you.

23. Miracles surround you every day. Open your eyes and rejoice.

24. There are no problems, only challenges, and solutions.

25. Everything happens for a reason and it all works out in the end.

26. Climbing a mountain is really about the journey. You’ll remember this more than the fleeting view at the end, which sometimes can’t even be seen due to the low lying clouds.

27. Silence and stillness is something to befriend. Let go of the need to fill it with empty words or actions.

28. Believe in what you celebrate and celebrate what you believe in.

29. Lie on a remote beach under the night sky, look at the curvature of the earth and gaze with wonder at the stars. Spend time appreciating and understanding just how small you really are. You are not the centre of the Universe, yet still a very important, miraculous part of it. There is power in understanding how small you really are.

30. All living things are interdependent. Co-operate by finding your niche rather than competing. Be yourself—the world needs your particular talents.

31. You cannot have effective communication without listening. You have two ears and only one mouth for a reason.

32. Pay attention to non-verbal forms of communication. You will learn far more about what someone is trying to say when you listen to their body language, in addition to their words.

33. Hang around people who celebrate you not tolerate you.

34. The Earth is a living organism more powerful than us. Look after her. She will remove us if we threaten her existence.

35. Trust in your gut. It’s wiser than your head.

36. Dream big. Never allow your logical mind to talk you out of pursuing your dreams. Your dreams are made for you.

37. Your past does not matter. You are not who you were in the past.

38. Your knowledge and experiences in life are not for you alone. They are of no use to you or anyone when they are trapped inside you. When you focus on sharing you will be amazed by the rewards that come back to be shared with you.

39. ‘This too shall pass’ is universally applicable to all situations in your life, both good and bad. Accept this, learn the lessons, have total gratitude for them, let them go and get ready for the new.

40. Worrying is a futile exercise.

41. If you don’t like something, you almost always have the power to change it—at least your response to it.

42. You are the controller of your own life. Take responsibility for your words, actions and choices. And then adjust them to enable you to move in the direction you wish to go.

43. There is power in pain – building strength and learning.

44. Change is good; it’s life’s natural state at any given moment.

45. The only place where life exists is NOW. Don’t wait until tomorrow or until everything is perfect. It never will be.

46. Enthusiasm, joy, awe and gratitude are our most powerful emotions.

47. When someone tells you that you can’t do something, what they usually mean is: “I can’t because I’m not willing to take a risk or put in the necessary effort.”

48. Excuses are limitations to our growth and experiences.

49. You don’t have to be rich to travel the world.

50. Most of the time the best experiences in life are free, or extremely low in cost.

51. There is nothing in the world that will get your heart racing more than a silverback charging at you. And while I wouldn’t recommend that experience specifically, make sure you live your life so your heart races on a regular basis. It means you’re pushing beyond your own limits.

52. Make your life a story to tell. Even most of the bad stuff becomes good when you think of the story it gives you to tell someday.

53. Life is not about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself.

54. Life is all about the memories. Go create them.

55. Never travel without an open mind. Never live without an open mind, it is the greatest gift for growth you can ever give to yourself and others.

More posts you may enjoy

You can listen to our travel podcast where we share how we’ve travel work for every stage of our life. Plus more tips and interviews and life lessons!

  1. Episode 1: Solo Travel and Working Abroad before we met
  2. Episode 2: Our 5 year honeymoon living and traveling the world
  3. Episode 3: The Dark times and Birth of the girls and travel blog
  4. Episode 4: Embracing Family Travel and our 18 month Australian road trip
  5. Episode 5: Getting a green card and traveling the US (our dream realized)

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lessons from a life of travel

109 thoughts on “55 Lessons Learned from a Life of Travel”

    1. Absolutely Carli! This is one of the biggest for me. I can’t stand the accumulation of the dust around me. We are taking off at the end of this year and the thing I am looking forward to the most is having limited possessions. All I want or need is my backpack!
      btw I was thinking of you this morning as I was smaggling Savannah!

  1. Wonderful lessons. #50 is great… most of the best things are free and probably happened unexpectedly.

    1. Who doesn’t love something for free. The greatest memories of mine come from conversations, laughter shared and walks in nature.

    1. Travel helped to open up my mind in so many ways. It is the greatest gift I have ever been given. Just this morning I received some abuse on twitter because I did not enjoy a Bob Dylan concert and wrote a review, I was so surprised that people would waste so much of their energy getting so upset about someone’s else’s opinion about something. It’s a GREAT thing that we are all so different– the world is so magical and interesting because of it.

  2. Great post and so true. I like all 55 points, especially 36. Dream Big. If we dream big we can achieve more than we thought.
    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    1. You’ll always go the extra mile if you dream big, otherwise you just stunt your growth. You never truly know what you are capable of so you might as well go for it and allow yourself to be surprised

    1. For sure. I question everything. I grew up in a strict Catholic family and I remember as a young teenager reciting the Lord’s Prayer yet again and thinking to myself, “What the hell is this? and why am I repeating what everyone else is saying? Who says I have to believe this and why?” I knew it wasn’t from my heart and so in essence was a complete betrayal. I have questioned everything since. Now I know that anything I take on and believe it is because it feels right in my heart and soul. MAn have I learned so much from others because of it.

  3. I’ve often spoken to non travellers about this, I love how you’ve laid this out so elloquently and so simply.

    My favourite has to be #36 ‘Dream big. Never allow your logical mind to talk you out of pursuing your dreams. Your dreams are made for you.’

    Amen to that!

  4. Very powerful, all of them! I experienced the 43th without travelling! hahaha!

    Even if it’s hard to choose the best one, I think that the 41th and 48th are very important and definitory for finding our path and becoming satisfied with what we are doing!

    Great post, again!

  5. Simply wonderful. I liked all of them! I think we should reflect more often about these things and worry less about the futilities we think are important, and this is even more difficult if you never travel!

    1. Oh yes those thing we often think are important and waste so much time over!! That’s why I love travel so much, it takes away a lot of that little stuff and allows you to focus on what is real and important. Thanks for sharing Berta!

  6. Love it!!! Thank you for this list… 🙂 One of mine is…

    If something doesn’t work out… missed flight, cancelled booking, wrong turn… it usually happens for a reason. In most cases, it’s because something even better is in store for you. 🙂

    1. Oh perfect!! I believe in this so much, funny how I forgot to put it in!! Thank you for adding it. There’s always a greater plan at work supporting us

  7. Gypsy Traveller

    Tip number 3 is the essence of a traveller: the more you own, the more you are stuck and you want to preserve it! SO just take rid of your belongings 🙂

  8. This is a beautifully done post. I really enjoy and learn from so many of your experiences. Thank you! Caz, I just the other day found your new site, mojito mama – you should do more cross promotion! I am not a mother but signed up just because I enjoy your spirit. I hope you are feeling better and that you are all better soon!

    1. Thank you Mel! I think I might start doing more cross promotion. I never thought much about it before so thank you for the inspired thought

  9. #55 has not worked for us. The more we have travelled, the less open minded we have become with borders, nation states, visas and passports that are used to control us and limit our travels.

  10. Thanks for this wonderful post! I love number 12, conquering your fears! Even if its not an actual fear, but just going out of your comfort zone. Be it climate, food, people, activity or culture. The more your broaden your experience, the larger your comfort zone will be, soon the entire world is your home 🙂

  11. such a simple and warm post! i love how subtly you’ve gendered God without making a fuss about it :). thank you for writing this! more power to the traveler!

  12. Thank you for another inspirational post! I may even start working on my own list of “lessons” learnt during my years as a nomadic spirit 🙂 once for all: If you dream big, you’ll achieve big things!
    Another lesson learnt (a bit more practical) is: always pack less than you think you need, you won’t regret it!

  13. Very cool. I think one lesson I have learnt from travelling is that despite our obvious differences we really are the same at the core. Having an open mind is crucial to getting the most out of travelling.

  14. Very cool post. I think one lesson I have learnt from travelling is that despite our obvious differences we really are the same at the core. Having an open mind is crucial to getting the most out of travelling.

  15. Thanks for the post! Especially number “3 : The more we own, the more enslaved we become.” and “4: Fulfillment comes from memorable moments and loving relationships, not stuff.”

  16. Thanks for this list…. really loved “Don’t be afraid to speak to strangers, the majority of them are out to help you, not hurt you.”

  17. Great insights from someone who’s been travelling for more than 15 years.

    Found your blog from some top 100 travel blog list. Now I know why yours is ranked so high. 🙂

  18. There is so much wisdom in this post. Through my travels and living in China as an English teacher I have been surprised on meeting people who don’t have wealth but travel. It’s prioritizing. (For example, not buying that new car.) The best example was when my hubby and I met a couple that cherry picked for a living, saved up and were backpacking Southeast Asia.

  19. Thank you for continuing to inspire me after recently leaving the corporate world to live on an island. If you can travel around the world, I can surely manage a relocation! Great advice, great wisdom. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes!! I love that attitude. If someone else can do it, you can too. It’s definitely what I use to give me the confidence to do anything. Enjoy your relocation, you will have a blast!

  20. “36. Dream big. Never allow your logical mind to talk you out of pursuing your dreams. Your dreams are made for you.” I love this because it seems to speak to how I am actually feeling right now. 🙂

  21. Wonderful thoughts and goals, its great to keep many of these in mind when traveling, i’ll have to print this out and take it with me on future trips, thanks

  22. Hello Caz, this piece is very inspiring. It motivates me to see the world even more while at the same time understand everything as I move on. So far, what I’ve learned from my journeys is I become more confident. Going to different places is not only about exploring new paths and destination but also meeting people and understanding their culture.

  23. Well said. A brilliant list of lessons all around but my favourite and something truly crucial to enjoy travel is this one:

    55. Never travel without an open mind. Never live without an open mind, it is the greatest gift for growth you can ever give to yourself and others.

    Cheers for the thoughts!

  24. This is an awesome set of lessons, some I have read or heard before. Success principles work in all areas of life it seems, not just business.
    My husband and I are taking a working holiday, first stop Australia. I’m looking forward to learning more from your blog! Safe travels.

  25. very cool and wonderful lessons! I love this one specifically “Life is all about the memories. Go create them.” Every time I think of my best memories of the past its always one of the travel memories of visiting different places or experience of dealing with different people or culture while on the move. It just brings joy back even while thinking about it.

  26. You are right on the button when you say that “Life is all about the memories. Go create them.” If we do not create new memories each day, life can lose excitement. Great post.

  27. All the 55 lessons which you have been suggested for travelling are very useful and interesting. I got it. I must should apply these lessons before i take any holiday trip.

  28. My favourite lesson? Kindness is a universal language. I remember one time in Thailand when I was caught in a huge rain shower. A little old woman pulled over and gave us a ride. She didn’t speak any English at all! She didn’t need to, and she left us with a long lasting positive impression.

  29. When I first started reading I was thinking I would just stop in the middle of the list, but the more I read the more I had to finish. This list is full of great things to keep in mind as we go through life. Even the ones as simple as “smile” can be easy to forget. Thanks for the reminders!

  30. Great list here, there are so many that I like and agree with I do not know where to start. I’ll choose 26 and 37 for their uniqueness. They are both things that I have experienced regularly in my life. Wonderful post, thanks for sharing!

  31. Love the post! So many amazing life lessons. I’ll add that most places in the world don’t have guard rails or air bags but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t explore and enjoy. Just know and teach limits. We had an amazing guide on our Grand Canyon exploration that started our RTW trip…He told the kids you can go anywhere you want here but some places you go might cause you to die. So use your head and learn how to be safe. With that lesson they learned which rock faces they could climb and which would crumble. How far in the river they could go before the current was too strong and which snakes were poisonous. We used that everywhere we went.

  32. reservationresources

    Wow, great list. No. 45 is so true because by concentrating on the present, we have best chance for a meaningful future. Whenever I wait for everything to be perfect, somehow I wind up missing out on life. So I’m going to find ways to take the trips that I want to take as soon as possible, so that I live life to the fullest. Hopefully, our website http://reservationresources.com can be as impactful as yours, which is awesome.

  33. I love no 17, people ARE generally good. It is so refreshing to be able to travel anywhere in the world and count on our basic human traits of kindness to provide for us. Cheers!

  34. Truly inspiring post..!! These #6 and # 48 are great. “Excuses are limitations to our growth and experiences.” One who fails to attempt the challenges by giving excuses will lose the experience, growth is lost, and most importantly the possibility of learning itself is lost..!! Thanks for sharing the list.

  35. I read this all the time, mostly when I feel down or uninspired. Thanks for the inspiration & Hope to see you on the road!

    Saying Hi all the way from the Philippines!

  36. I just love these Caz. It would be great to read the story behind learning each one of those lessons, maybe a blog post series? 🙂 I know who needs more work. We are constantly learning every day as well and I guess there really isn’t always just one thing that makes you learn that lesson. I love following your road trip, we would like to do Oz sometime, for now it will be Spain. 🙂

  37. Very interesting article Caz.

    Surely you have more travelling experience compare to me, you got a nice blog on travelling. But I do have travelled 7 countries across the world, mostly in Middle East and got to tell you that one things that sticks more while you are in foreign place is your smile.

    Your attitude are very important, this way you get liked by other people. When you are at foreign place, it’s really important to adapt their culture. I’m not advising you to go to an extreme, just try to learn few words from their language, let’s say greeting and try to wear what’s trending and cultural at that place.

    These things will really help you a lot to blend it and wins heart of people that you don’t know.

  38. Number 5 seems to resonate with me for some reason. There is no need to try to take advantage of others. Having a win-win attitude would do the world better justice.

  39. #3 and #4 are my favorite. There is nothing so freeing as strapping on a backpack and just going. Right now, as I write from my guest house in Nepal, I have a single backpack and not much else. There are a few things back in Saudi and a suitcase or two in the States, but those things constitute the whole of my worldly possessions. And it feels GREAT.

  40. God wants you to have a happy life and does not want you to suffer. But your happiness is up to you.- One of the best lessons, I believe in this notion too. Happiness is totally in our hands, we can be happy with little fortune and be sad with trillion

  41. Here’s is one that I have found to be a valuable tidbit….
    Even if you don’t think you want to visit a particular place, give it a try. You are sure to be pleasantly surprised.
    Several times put off visiting China due to their government or politics. Finally decided to just go and see how it was and could not have been happier we did. They are the nicest people, the prices were unbelievable and the sites were like straight out of Nat. Geographic. Never in all my travels have I held a country in such awe. Now when we visit anywhere, we always try to hit at least one or two roads least traveled and discover things for ourselves regardless of what travel “experts” have to say.

  42. Hi! I just found your blog and I must tell you how inspiring it is. One that hit home for me was the one about “the more you have the more enslaved you become”, so I stopped to think about how my life would be without some things I consider a must, or things I simply can’t let go because of the importance it held in the past. I thought about it and the thought of not having those things, it wasn’t scary, it was… freeing, I dare say. And when I thought about donating them, there were no cons. I didn’t fight it. And that was an amazing experience, I must say. For someone who always thought about how rich I wanted to become, because rich means successful and successful means happiness, that was sort of life changing. Some food for thought. Thank you anyways, I hope you’ll continue having safe and amazing travels, the ones I wish for myself. <3

  43. Excellent! recently I traveled to Cuenca, Ecuador with my family. I so frustrated to mingle there. But I learned a lot with that travel experience. I dedicated my life for travel no other 🙂

  44. What an outstanding list of travel memories and inspiration. Definitely #50 is so true! One of my favorite travel quotes is .. “Don’t Think About What They Say … Go See!”
    Travel is an unforgettable education! Have Pinned this for later and shared as well. Robert 🙂

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