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All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Traveling Around the World

With all due respect to Robert Fulghum, you can learn a lot more traveling than you can in kindergarten.

Here are some of the things I learned from traveling around the world for five years:


Be patient. You will experience flight delays, screwed up food orders and lost hotel reservations. Take it in stride. I once saw someone in Bali start yelling over what amounted to 10-cents. What was the point?

Live simply. Everything you need you can carry in one bag, maybe two. You have no idea how useless most of the stuff you own is until you are forced to go without it.

Always take time to recharge your batteries. This isn’t some sort of alliterative way of saying you should take time to rest. I literally mean you should make sure to keep the batteries in your devices charged. Resting, however, is good too.

The best things are not always the most expensive things. You can often have a better experience eating street food or staying in a hostel than you can at a five star restaurant or hotel.

Take the wisdom of others who have gone before you. You will meet travelers who have been where you are going. Listen to them and take their advice

Don’t make a scene. Travelers who get a bad reputation are the ones who are loud and cause a fuss. Keep to yourself, lower your voice and it will solve many problems.

Try it, you just might like it. You don’t know what you like until you try it. If you don’t like it, you never have to try it again. Don’t let your cultural prejudices get in the way of trying something.

Wash your hands. This is especially after using a squat toilet. Doubly true if there is no toilet paper.

Eat lots of fruit. Try to eat fruit every chance you get. It is good and good for you.

A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet. This old adage is actually true.

Take time to observe. There is more you can learn from sitting at a cafe or pub than you can from a reading a book. The little things can be very important.

Walk in the shoes of others. If you think a place is exotic and foreign, just imagine what they think of you. Exotic is all relative. You dull hometown might be the most exciting thing the world to someone one who has never been there.

Saying “hello” in another person’s language can go a long way. Taking the time to learn a few words of another language can sometimes do more than having a full conversation in your own.

Don’t be afraid to haggle. If you don’t stick up for yourself, no one else will. Asking for a better price might actually increase the respect people have for you. Do have a limit, however. There is a point where haggling over a penny becomes self defeating.

You don’t have to take a photo of yourself in front of a place to prove you were there. There are many beautiful things in the world. Most of them can be captured by camera without you posing with your back to them.

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Comments

  1. Carey Ann says:

    Great post. I like “walk in the shoes of others”. We do whatever we can to afford to travel with our teenager. I’d rather have her experience life outside her bubble then buy a newer SUV.

  2. Bastiaan says:

    Nice post! with try it, are you referring to traveling? I know so many people who want to travel but they are to scared to give up their secure and certain life back home… I’m glad I tried traveling, I never regretted it! I’ve learned so much on the road! I’ll keep following your blog!

  3. Bernadette says:

    Loved this article. Great wisdom.

  4. Tour Explora says:

    I like this quote “The best things are not always the most expensive things. “

  5. Great stuff…And definitely true. The things I’ve learned while traveling are so much more applicable to real life than just about anything I learned in a textbook…

  6. Excellent post. Just what any new traveller needs.

    I’ll be sure to try and implement them when I start my new vagabonding venture.

  7. Ashlea says:

    Awesome post! It’s proof that ‘travel’ should be as much a part of compulsory education as math and science!

  8. Ashlea says:

    Awesome post! It’s proof that ‘travel’ should be as much a part of compulsory education as math and science!

  9. All excellent tips!

    Love the recharging batteries one, haha.

  10. Amen. When you wander, you learn.
    Travel is a better university than Harvard.

  11. Get A Trip says:

    Enjoyed viewing your whole web-blog. Loved your article about All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Traveling Around the World. It’s no wonder your blog has such a high rating.

    Regards, Roman T.

  12. Ruby Benz says:

    i totally agree with all of these! great sharing Gary! love your blog!

  13. Thanks Gary for the great pictures from The White Pass and Yukon Railroad. We took an Alaskan Cruise and my brother -in-law and his wife had made the trip before and said we just had to do it!! My pictures aren’t as close-up as yours,so I got a whole different perspective. Gorgeous !!!!

  14. Mack says:

    Hey thanks for sharing a great tips. There are many vacationers I have seen that do not politely behave with locals and as a result they not get much support from them. So it is always essential to behave in a polite and decent manner with other person during traveling. If we are going to any country, it is necessary to respect their culture as well as their language. This post will really going to give a good lesson to those travelers who don’t have sense how to remain cool and good while traveling.

    Thanks so much for sharing such great information.
    Mack

  15. Allan White says:

    Enjoyed! Be patient and don’t turn into the “ugly American.” It is a beautiful world out there.

  16. Meggan says:

    I just started reading your blog, and what a life. Getting to go from place to place and see what you do. Most people would just have to settle with dreaming of this but you get the whole thing.

  17. I LOVE this. And I totally agree, traveling has the been the best education imaginable!

    • Agree too … Some of them are more important than others. My prefered are “Don’t make a scene”, “Live simply” and probably “Be patient”. The others used to be consequences …

  18. Aurora says:

    I have caught the travel bug many years ago and this is all I live for, the next trip!
    Leaving your dreams is what matters …

  19. My problem is, I don’t take enough photos of places with my back to them. I realize this everytime I travel with girls. They take 500 photos of themselves in front of random things and of course, the big “must see” things too. At the time I think “pfft.. whatever”… then 6 months later I see the photos on facebook and get jealous that I only have the memory that I was there.

  20. Lucy Price says:

    What I should learn while travelling is to take time to recharge my batteries! Every time I’m on journey I’ want to make the best of my holidays and don’t miss anything. So I don’t take time to rest a bit and I always end up being more tired than I used to be before leaving!!
    I’ll try to follow your tips next time I will be on holidays!
    take time to recharge your batteries. This isn’t some sort of alliterative way of saying you should take time to rest. I literally mean you should make sure to keep the batteries in your devices charged. Resting, however, is good too.

  21. I love this. Travelling has taught me more than I ever thought it could, and I found myself smiling and nodding while reading this post!

  22. Lane says:

    Just roll with it. There will be another flight. There will be another “perfect” dinner. There will be another sunny day. Take the moment for what it is… Imperfect.

  23. Julie says:

    Hi,

    I would like to say thank you for sharing us your tips. I will share your blog in my facebook page…. thanx

  24. This is my favorite: You don’t have to take a photo of yourself in front of a place to prove you were there.

    People think it’s strange when they offer to take my photo somewhere and I decline. While I appreciate their offer, the scene is often much prettier without me in it :-)

  25. Cheryl says:

    Wonderful advices, kindergarten is totally not necessary when you are world schooled!

  26. wak gelas says:

    hi gary, thanks for the priceless travel advice.. i like the pic of the ‘kids in malaysia’ and remind me of my childhood.. thanks again

  27. Lois says:

    Great post…. I don’t travel like you do around the world but I do travel a lot and I’ve found your observations to be spot on for whatever kind of travel one does, and perhaps even for those who never travel. Thanks for sharing!

    — Lois

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About Gary Arndt

My name is Gary Arndt. In March 2007 I set out to travel around the world...
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