Ten Life Lessons Learned While Traveling the World

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Happy Birthday to Me.  At 5:56 pm EST time, I will officially turn 27. I have done so much in that time.  Every time I go to write a blog post for this site, I start going thru my pictures and I can’t believe all the places I have been and things I have done.  As it stands, right now.

I have been to 31 countries, 49 US States, 3 Canadian Provinces, and 3 US Territories. I have visited just over three-quarters of the US National Parks.  I have seen the abandoned city of Pripyat, trekked to the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, and seen the northern lights in Iceland.  Just to name a few of my adventures.

In early May 2009, I ended my high school career quoting Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” At that moment, if you asked me if where I would be 8 year.  My answer would not be running a travel blog and traveling the USA of a Field Engineer.  But that’s what I am doing.  Life evolved and passions change.

Life has been an adventure that has taught me many things.  Here are just a few of the things I have learned while traveling.

Take a moment to enjoy the little things.

Sometimes life has us caught up in the big picture we forget to enjoy the journey. Look up, look down.  To be cliche but, stop and smell the roses.  When we travel, we stop to take in the view and enjoy the wildlife but yet when we are home we don’t look at where we live with the same appreciation.  I don’t know how many times I have seen the view of the valley from my parents front hill but it always stops and takes my breath away.

Don’t sweat the little stuff

Sh*t happens.  Things break.  Plans go wrong. That is life.  I have learned that most things can be fixed with a little thinking, some luck, and maybe a little cash.

Spent my 25th birthday in jail well actually prison (it might have also been Alcatraz Prison which is now a national historical site and not an active prison)

Don’t wait

I often get asked how I travel so much.  The simple answer is I don’t wait to book a ticket.  I decide I am going to go somewhere and I book my flight.  I might make a phone call to see if someone can go with me and ill adjust my dates a bit but there is no perfect time for travel.  If you wait for the perfect moment then you will never go anywhere.

Bought a ticket to Africa on a whim.

Don’t overthink

Too many times, I have seen people needing an answer for everything before they will do anything.  I don’t.  I might do a little bit of research before I do something but I don’t need to research need every answer.  I just need enough to makes some determinations and then I go.

Accepted a job offer and 5 days later took off for a two week safari in Africa.

Trust your instincts and trust yourself

I have learned to trust my instincts.  They are rarely wrong (ok more like mostly never wrong). I have enough trust in myself and my instinct that I know what risks I am willing to take and what risks I am not.  I am fairly fast at thinking things thru and coming up with solutions to problems on the fly.

Don’t be afraid

Fear is the enemy.  It is a healthy enemy but it is the enemy.  If you are always worrying about what might go wrong then you are focused on the what ifs not the right now.  I am afraid that things will go wrong when I travel.  Yes, yes I am but at the same time, I don’t focus on it.  It all truth, the most dangerous thing I do in my life is get in a car.  Fear is good but I have learned not to let it stop me from doing something I want to do.

Take Chances

Do I have a five-year plan?  Sort of.  I have places I would like to be but at the same time, Long-term plans are a good idea but don’t get so focused on them that you stop taking chances and see where they will lead. Moving to Africa after college was nowhere in my life plan when I started college but the opportunity presented itself and I took it.

Don’t listen to naysayer

I wish I had a quarter for every person who told me I was going to die, be kidnapped, or that what I am doing isn’t safe.  Really I wish I had a quarter for each time.  I would have a couple of plane tickets from those quarters.  Yet here I am, I am not dead, not maimed, and mostly uninjured.   I have learned to tune these people out.  I get that you think it’s dangerous to travel alone but at least I travel.  I don’t let that fear (back to a previous point) stop me.  The naysayers are welcome to their opinion but it’s their opinion and it’s my life.

Mount Rainer

How lucky I am

I am incredibly lucky.  I was lucky to be born to two financially responsible parents.  We were mid-upper middle class. We didn’t live an expensive lifestyle but I didn’t want for much (other than a horse, I never got the horse I wanted for Christmas).  But seriously, I have an average childhood with parents who loved me and didn’t have to do without so I could play soccer. We took a few nice vacations to international desitions.

My parents took my education seriously and always encouraged me to do my best.  They instilled a love of learning and reading in me.  I am lucky that my parents cared and were involved in my activities but they didn’t force me into to many things (I have forgiven them for forcing me to play soccer when I was 4 1/2 given I later fell in love with the sport.)

Their financial responsibility allowed me to attend my first choice college and graduate without any college debt.  That is a huge blessing that I don’t have to the burden of college debt to pay off.

Hard work pays off

Life is a mixture of hard work with a little luck.  I definitely had some great luck in my life but I have had to work hard to get where I am.  I pushed myself in high school to graduate top of my class in high school. I pushed myself in college to get my engineering degree.  Out of college, I have taken jobs that push my limits and challenge me.  I got a degree that helps support me in the life I want (although I don’t think this is the exact plan I had when I was 19 and decided I was following my parents’ footsteps and getting an engineering degree).

What life lessons have you learned while traveling the world?

22 thoughts on “Ten Life Lessons Learned While Traveling the World

  1. Jitaditya

    Coincidentally I just saw another post like this and I have to say that I am getting deja vu again. I like the “don’t wait” part. A lot of people hesitate, or wait for more favorable conditions that may never arrive. The first step is always the most difficult and I am glad that you took it.
    Jitaditya’s current road . . . Bali for Indian Budget BackpackersMy Profile

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  2. Himanshu

    OMG, Superb. You are only 27 and have traveled so much. I have to say, I feel so humble today with your accomplishment. Kudos!!
    All your points are worth remembering by every traveler. In today’s rushed life, we actually need to pause and enjoy small things. These small things can be enjoyed only by those who live a simple life. When you say DO NOT WAIT, I can relate. For many years I could not travel because I wanted people to travel with me and then one sudden day when I left for travel without talking to anyone, I discovered my true self. I trust my instinct and just go for things I like. Reading your blog post was very inspiring.

    Reply
  3. James

    I also celebrated my birthday abroad a month ago. I couldn’t agree more withh yoUr comments. I always talk abot pluralism. What is good or bad for someone is not necessarily good or bad for someone else!

    Reply
  4. Suruchi

    I really love such posts. They are so motivating. I must say at the age of 27, you have been to enough countries girl. Keep rocking. You are absolutely right, there is no right time to travel. All times are perfect, just book the tickets and leave with an open-minded attitude. Travel is the best teacher I know until day.

    Reply
  5. Claire

    You are so right about don’t sweat the small stuff – sh*t does happen and we can’t control it – we can only control how we react to it. And no one ever regretted booking that amazing trip – just book it! 🙂

    Reply
  6. Sandy N Vyjay

    Travel is indeed a great teacher. It teaches us so many life lessons, some of which you have encapsulated in your post.One great lesson that it teaches is appreciating other cultures and developing tolerance towards traditions and cultures that are different from your own.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      Travel has really opened by eyes on the world and understanding other cultures can help one see the issue within your own culture more clearly.

      Reply
  7. Tami

    Those are lessons that will help you for the rest of your life — in every aspect of your life. Even areas that seem far less glamorous than traveling, like raising a family or working in your chosen career. I’m twice your age and might not have learned all those lessons by the time I was 27! Hope you continue to travel and enjoy all the opportunities before you!
    Tami’s current road . . . Why I Had to Take a Culinary Tour in TorontoMy Profile

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  8. Tamara

    I think fear can hold a lot of people back from travelling. To put it in perspective, I usually tell people that there’s a higher probability of something bad happening to you in your own town versus abroad, so don’t let it hold you back!

    Reply
  9. Kavita Favelle | Kavey Eats

    A great attitude and so much seen and done by just 27! Bravo to you! I agree totally that you should not let the opinions of others stop you from following your dreams, especially where you and they have such different dreams — they’re never going to get it and that’s OK. I think you have a healthy attitude to risk too, as you say, it’s not that you should be fearless – people who don’t pay any heed to potentially dangerous situations are more likely to be waylaid by them – but that you should take them into account so you can work out how you’ll avoid the danger – and go ahead and do the trip your way!
    Kavita Favelle | Kavey Eats’s current road . . . Put A Cork In It, Alentejo!My Profile

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