10 Life Lessons Learned While Traveling the World

I've been traveling the world since 2006 and the more I travel, the more I learn about myself, life, and this crazy world. People always ask me if my experiences have changed me. That's hard to say. You don't wake up in Sydney and go "OK, today, I am different." Change happens slowly and unnoticeably on the road. But, after more than four years of travel, I can say there are a few life lessons I've learned:

The world is boring. I always thought that "exciting" happened everywhere but wherever I was. In some distant city, great things were being experienced by other people, and I could be a part of it only if I were there. Then, I traveled and found out that the world is actually pretty boring. The basic routine of life is the same everywhere: people wake up, go to work, eat, visit friends, relax, sleep, and repeat.

Champagne Toast

pinguino, flickr

The world is small. Disney had it right; it's a small world after all. I have friends who know people I've met while traveling and I've have run into those same people in different countries. Overall, the world isn't as big as we think., especially , with the effects of globalization. You learn that others have been exposed to many of the same things as you.

People are essentially the same. No matter where one is in the world, we all have the same problems and goals. Doesn't everyone want to be successful, have money, be healthy, and be happy? It doesn't matter if you are from Cairo, Sydney, or small town USA. People are similar, and if you recognize that, you break down a lot of cultural barriers.

You can get by without knowing a foreign language. Thanks to the internet and globalization, English is spoken commonly throughout the world. People might not be fluent everywhere, but they know the basics. Because of this, I get by just about everywhere I go. And, in small places where the extent of English spoken is "hello," non-verbal communication is universal!

Life Lessons: Money

ArchiM, flickr

You don't need a lot of money. I used to think the secret to traveling the world was having a lot of money. It seems one of the common excuses people give for not traveling is cost. But the more I travel, the more I realize it's not as expensive as one might think. It's easy to book a $3,000 trip to Paris, but if you do a bit more research, live like a local, and be creative with your expenses, you can travel more cheaply than you can live at home. Don't be afraid to break out of the five-star life.

People are friendly. In my travels, I've needed help many times and have often looked like a tourist. Yet when I'm in trouble, I have found people are willing to help. People are proud of where they are from and want to show you the est their country has to offer.

The world isn't anti-American. The media makes it seem like much of the world dislikes Americans. But in four years I've never encountered any blatant anti-American sentiment. Yes, there is distaste for our government and its leaders, but this doesn't always apply to the American people themselves. No one will hate you for being an American. People I've encountered always want to know about New York and Texas--they all want to visit. When I tell people where I am from their follow up question is simply, "Where in America?"

Life Lessons: Possessions

stevecoutts, flickr

You don't need a lot of stuff. One of the questions I get asked most often is what travel gear I carry? I've actually found that the longer I travel the less I need. You don't need a hair dryer, make up, or six pairs of pants--you can live without a lot. Everything I pack fits into one backpack, and my computer, camera and guidebooks are in a school pack. That's it. Traveling teaches you that you only need the essentials.

I could say that traveling changed my life. That I had some "Eat. Pray. Love" moment. Maybe I did. What I do know is that travel really taught me more about how the world works than any classroom or show I've ever seen.

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