Is Travel the Best Teacher? 6 Lessons I’ve Learned from Travel

Life Lessons Learned from Travel Slider

“Travel is the best teacher. The only way to an open mind is by taking a plane
out into the open world.”
C. JoyBell C.

 

You’ve probably heard this quote before. I’m usually not the biggest fan of such kind of inspirational quotes, but about a month ago, I decided to take this advice by heart and to quit the Master’s program I was enrolled in. Ok nay, just kidding, I’m not THAT reckless – you can’t count me into the category of “I-sold-everything-to-travel” kind of people (yet).  In reality, the program that I was enrolled in just didn’t really match my interests. As I couldn’t justify my whole life revolving around something that I was not totally invested in, I decided to look for an alternative.

Nevertheless, having just recently gotten back from a 6 month backpacking trip through Asia (kind of unoriginal – I know), I started thinking about what I had learned from travel. And I realized that it is a DAMN LOT!

I know quite a few people who think that I am wasting my time with traveling a lot (Hi mom!), but honestly, there are a lot of valuable life lessons you can take away from it! Sure, traveling may not directly help you to build skills you can put on your CV, but I strongly believe that travel is a great teacher!

Here are five things that travel can teach you.

 

1. Critical Thinking

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” Another quote, maybe I’ve read to many “Inspirational Wanderlust Quotes” articles recently. But anyways, I think this quote by Mark Twain sums up one of the most important lessons of traveling. Traveling brings you face to face with other cultures that have different ways of doing, thinking and believing. Irrespective of the places you visit, travel will certainly challenge your assumptions and broaden your perspective. We probably all know that the way each of us looks at the world is different to how others see things. Yet, I’m sure everyone has some major blind spots in this regard! Traveling will serve as a reality check and make you see the world in a different light.

 

2. Appreciation & Gratitude

I wouldn’t say that I grew up being particularly spoiled, but I certainly did take things for granted. By the time that I decided to head off for my first long trip alone, I re-evaluated my situation though. I’m extremely lucky to have grown up in an environment that gave me the opportunity of receiving a good education. Seeing people in all different kinds of circumstances whilst traveling was definitely a very humbling experience and made me appreciate everything I had a lot more!

 

Sunset Nong Khiaw

Sunset in Nong Khiaw, Laos

 

3. Experiences over Possessions

This is another very valuable thing that I took away from traveling. I shamefully admit that I was one of those girls owning 50 nail polishes (seriously!). Well, turns out that I easily survived with one nail polish and one Mascara for six months (SHOCKER, I know)! Traveling has made me value experiences over possession a lot more and nowadays I happily spend my money on a nice trip instead of new clothes or make up. Overall, I learned to appreciate the little things in life a lot more.

 

4. Going Out of Your Comfort Zone

In daily life, it is so easy to not push yourself to do things that are slightly out of your comfort zone. I mean, why bother if you are comfortable with your routines and enjoy the familiarity life gives you this way? Well, there’s TONS of benefits that derive from breaking out of your comfort zone, but I don’t want to let my inner psychologist ramble on too much about this.

So what’s the deal with travel and pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone? While you of course can challenge yourself to go out of your comfort zone in daily life, travel puts you in a setting that makes it much easier. A new environment, experiencing a different culture, meeting new people – all of this already breaks your daily routines and it becomes much easier to step out of your comfort zone and to try new things and activities!

 

Life Lessons Travel Rinjani

Hiking Mount Rinjani, Indonesia

 

5. Trusting Your Potential

Traveling throws little challenges at you pretty often. While this may make you freak out at times, remember that you will leave feeling accomplished once you’ve come up with a solution. Before I went traveling, I never noticed how much I relied on others to reassure me in the decisions that I’ve made. Of course, there’s nothing wrong about asking others for advice! But have you ever thought about how much the decision you ultimately make are based on others opinions because you were too scared of taking a certain step on your own? Travel truly teaches you to trust yourself and your intuitions and shows you that you are a lot more capable than you ever though you would be!

 

6. Living in the Present

Living in the present moment as a key to happiness – sounds so cliché, yet seems to make a lot of sense! However, the idea that society instills in us is one of putting all of our focus on striving for success in the future. While there’s nothing wrong with goal orientation, there’s a danger in living only for the sake of achieving something in the future. I used to go along my days and weeks, going to university or work and running errands when I suddenly noticed that all of my memories had blended together. It was at this point when I was struggling to recall any memories of particular moments that I realized that I was not living in the present!

When traveling, it’s easy to live in the present. Every day is a little adventure, you step outside of your comfort zone and try new things. I can easily remember and recall lots of moments from my travels, from watching the sunset in the Philippines to feeling the wind blowing through my hair on Mount Rinjani, to just eating Pho at our favorite little restaurant in Hanoi. It’s not all about the big adventures, but about reveling in the moments. This is what ultimately stays stuck in your memory!

It’s definitely harder to live this way at home, but travel has made me more aware of the importance of doing more of what makes me happy in the moment, that I am constantly reminded of it.

 

 

So is travel the best teacher? I’m still undecided on this, but there’s no discounting of the fact that travel can teach you lots of things you surely won’t learn in a classroom!

What are your thoughts on this? What lessons have you learned from traveling?

 

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40 Comment

  1. I couldn’t agree more about this post… I decided to get stuck in a Masters Prog. (almost done) but it’s definitely not in a field that I’m extremely passionate about or that I’ll see myself still working in in the long term so good on ya for looking at an alternative 🙂

    Travel is indeed the best teacher! – in my opinion.. You learn so many skills that you wouldn’t otherwise experience and you gain another level of understanding about the world. These are all definitely lessons I’ve learned while travelling and took my parents some time before they realised how I’ve developed through the experiences I’ve gained on the road. So many people I’ve met are always under the impression that I travel for a good time (they aren’t wrong) but there’s something nourishing about having travel as your teacher. Great read, Doro!

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      It’s not an easy choice to quit though – I thought that I would really like my program & was super disappointed when I realized that I didn’t…Happy to have made the decision though 🙂
      I think you can’t fully understand how much you can actually learn from traveling until you hit the road yourself. Just noticed that when I talked to a friend who moved abroad – while she was still at home in Germany, I did not feel as if she would understand why I travel so much (or I guess she thought just to have fun, which is true to some extent), but now that she moved abroad she totally understands what I am talking about all the time 🙂
      Thanks Caroline!

  2. Gracie says: Reply

    Couldn’t agree more! especially the part where people think it’s just a waste of time and money (and yes, it’s my mom, too!) lol.. I agree to everything that’s written here. But at the end of the day, the important part is that I’ve learned a lot and enjoyed life at the same time 🙂

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Haha I’m glad to hear that it’s not only my family who thinks that way 😂
      You’re right, it’s important to keep in mind what we take away and learn from traveling, irrespective of what other might think about it 🙂

  3. Jurga says: Reply

    All so true! And don’t pay attention to people who think that you are wasting your time traveling (even if it’s your mom 😉 ). There are different kinds of people and those who don’t travel will never understand the ones who do, just as people who travel don’t understand the ones who never leave their town or country.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      I’m trying to do that! It’s just always big discussion because both my sister and I are kind of crazy about traveling:D
      So true what you are saying! All of my travel friends obviously get why I love traveling so much, while my friends who don’t travel that much don’t seem to understand!

  4. Excellent points of life lessons on travelling. Especially those great tips about living in the moment and going out of your comfort zone. Travel is change, so it needs to be embraced. Be bold and live life. Great post.

  5. Great read! Until you’ve actually traveled, you don’t realize how much it can deeply change you and your perspective on life. It’s the best gift anyone can give themselves. Happy travels!

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      That’s so true! When I came back from my first long solo trip, no one seemed to notice how much I had grown and changed. Luckily I’ve got lots of travel crazy friends as well, who all had the same experience 🙂

  6. travelling also helps you know more about yourself.

    just travelled to hong kong last week with my friends and i’ve discovered some of their attitudes good and bad just last week.

    travelling is a self therapy.

  7. Zahra says: Reply

    Totally agree with. Travel certainly is the best teacher. I think it’s also a great spiritual mentor and helps you tap into your creative zones.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      That’s a good point too! 🙂

  8. Joleene Moody says: Reply

    All of these are great, but 2, 3, and 4 resonated with me the most. Be grateful for what you have. Recognize that it’s not about possessions. And get the *bleep* out of your comfort zone so you can explore this magnificent world! Great post today, Doro. 🙂

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Thanks Joleene! Haha thst bleep including sentence is definitely the most important point ot get started 😉

  9. Love #3. I’m so happy we realized that our possession have limited value if any at all and rather just provide us with an unnecessary burden. Living in an RV forced us to rid ourselves of the burden that too many possessions can cause.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      I did exactly the same when I came back from my last long trip, I got rid of so much stuff (which I really don’t need)!

  10. Wow what a blog post. I particularly likes living in the present that is what i follow. Keep blogging.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Thanks, glad to hear that you enjoyed reading it 🙂

  11. pat says: Reply

    I completely agree that you learn so much while travelling. its too bad not everyone that can do it does. :0

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Happy to hear that the post resonated with you 🙂

  12. Some excellent points. I love the quote from Mark Twain you included, really makes you think how important travel can be, especially in today’s political climate..

  13. I loved your 6 lessons. The lesson I have learned from traveling is I need to earn more if I want to go for next trip. However, on a serious note, traveling teaches a lot of other things too (not mentioned here).

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Happy to hear that you enjoyed reading the post 🙂

  14. Shane Prather says: Reply

    You gain such solid takeways from travel, in my opinion more than you ever do from a college degree! How lucky we are to have had these experiences.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Yes, it’s important to be grateful for that 🙂

  15. I completely agree with you, travel really does teach us some valuable life lessons that help you grow as a person. I also think that depending on what type of traveller you are, travel teaches us things about another country’s culture, history and geography that would take much longer to learn and would be harder to remember if you learned it from a book.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      That’s a good point! 🙂 It’s true, learning another country’s history, culture etc whilst actually being there is surely an easier way to remember things.

  16. neha says: Reply

    A very thoughtful reflection indeed. What I have experienced through my travel is that the underlying values of human society remains the same – no matter where you go across the globe. The language, culture, tradition might vary, and they are all beautiful in their own ways. Isn’t it amazing

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      That’s a really good point as well, I noticed that too. Encountering different cultures is such an exciting aspect of travel, but it’s interesting to see that we essentially all want similar things and have the same values 🙂

  17. I love what you noted ¨face to face with other cultures¨ – it resembles face to face with the other side of reality. Just like how a walk outside can ease your mind in stressful situations. It is really more than just the ¨Siesta¨ or ¨vacation¨ or even the idea of ¨escapism¨ for highly opinionated people. Even if it won´t meet the exact change or improvement that you like when you go back home, but it will change you in other ways.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Love what you’re saying in your last sentence! I thought that after six months of traveling and taking a break, I would know exactly what I would like to study & do in the future – turns out I didn’t, but I still took so many other things away from traveling 🙂

  18. Ana says: Reply

    Very well said! I am a person who likes to spend my money in booking for plane tickets rather than on gadgets. I live a very simple life and traveling experiences are greater than having all those expensive gadgets, new clothes, fashionable bags, or stylish shoes. Traveling also teaches me how to work hard and save harder. I believe that we are not meant to live in one place. We have a freedom to choose and I choose to travel around the world as long as I have breath in me.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      I totally relate to that, I rather like to spend my money on traveling than something materialistic. The experiences I have gained from traveling are a lot more worth to me 🙂
      Keep traveling! 🙂

  19. I completely agree that you learn so much – both about yourself and about the world – while travelling. I definitely think travel is a terrific form of learning beyond the classroom! One thing I learned was that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was – both in mind and body!

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Happy to hear that you can relate to what I’ve written 🙂 Totally agree with your last point too, I’ve climbed a volcano in Indonesia, never though that I would be able to get up at 2am in the morning and hike 12 hours that day 😀

  20. Kallsy says: Reply

    I couldn’t agree more with these ideas. I especially relate to appreciation and gratitude as we sometimes only notice what’s inside our bubble. Travel allows us the ability to see so much in a different perspective. I for one had this experience when doing mission work in Australia for a summer. While I did get to experience the surf and beaches, most of my time was spent with a local aboriginal community providing shelter, food, and clothing. It really put a lot into perspective for me!

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Happy to hear that you can relate to it! 🙂 So true what you are saying, it’s easy to only see what’s happening inside our bubble – which leaves you with a limited perspective of what life is like. I think there is a danger of staying in the “tourist” bubble as well though, depending on how you travel (if that makes any sense). Great to hear about your experience in Australia, must have been really interesting!

  21. The lessons 2, 3 and 6 are definitely on top of my lists for traveling. It is such a beautiful experience to see other parts of the world and see different ways in which people live. It definitely broadens your perspective about life, and develops a sense of gratitude. Like you said, it allows you to live in the moment, enjoy the present and value the experience you have over possessions because that experience stays with you for the rest of your life.

    1. dorohenrietta says: Reply

      Glad to hear that you can relate to it!

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