World Traveled Wednesday: What Traveling Will Teach You

As Mark Twain once said, “one must travel to learn,” and as I have spent the past few years visiting various countries around the world, I’m starting to believe it’s true. Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to learn about myself, the world, and other cultures while visiting some of the most beautiful sights on the planet. From beach resorts to developing nations, the world is a great place full of rich culture, impeccable views, and amazing history. Whether you’re exploring a new city or country for a semester-long abroad, family vacation, or weekend getaway with your girlfriends, an adventure is a time to remember. So, here’s a list of what I’ve learned so far:

1. Language barriers don't really exist:More often than not, wherever you go, English will be spoken. Don’t let the fear of not understanding the natives hold you back. Even when you can’t communicate in the same language, you’ll get really good at playing charades. Worst-case scenario, Google translate will become your best friend.

2. Your camera is your best friend:Whatever the moment is, take a picture. You may think you’ll be able to remember everything about where you are but you won’t. It really is true: a picture is worth a thousand words. Whether it’s pictures of you and friends drunkingly fooling around at some bar on the Amalfi coast, or picturesque poses of you at the Grand Canyon at sunset, you’ll want to remember it. Carry backup cameras for if, and when, you hog up all of the storage on your phone (a traveler’s worst nightmare grrr). Personally, I recommend a Fujifilm Instax camera. They’re a fun way to capture moments and extremely cute to hang up later on. Also, don’t forget to create a cute scrapbook when you get home!

3. You’ll appreciate sleep:In order to travel from one place to another, your main means of transportation will include buses, trains, and planes. To follow in accordance with the departure schedules, you may be required to wake up at unusual hours. Traveling is actually exhausting, therefore you’ll sleep wherever you can, and cherish every second of it.

4. There is so much great food we’ve never known about:From escargot in Versailles to guinea pig in Quito, I have tried some of the strangest foods on the planet. Every culture has their different delicacies and there is a reason they are so well liked. Macaroons from France and gelato from Italy are great ways to end any long day of traveling and they are often the perfect ending to a great meal. Even trying Britain’s famous fish and chips plate was a memorable experience. Just because it’s foreign to us, doesn’t mean it’s anything bad (spoiler alert: guinea pig really just tastes like chicken!).

5. The best way to explore a city is on foot:One of the best memories I have while traveling includes walking the cobble-stoned streets of Italy with my two best friends by my side. With every turn we took, we’d become further and further away from where we indeed to be. And it turned out, getting lost was so much fun! Whether your niche is exploring shops, markets, restaurants, or bars, traveling cities by foot will definitely take you where you be, mostly when you least expect it!

6. Policies on tipping vary country to country- so be aware:I’ve traveled to places where it’s customary to tip the custodial staff in bathrooms, while I’ve traveled to others where it’s only necessary to tip wait staff 10% (at a minimum) at restaurants. What you’ve followed in one foreign country may not work in another, therefore be sure to always ask someone (whether a tour guide, concierge, or any random person on the street) what’s considered proper.

7. Pickpocketing is real:As un-fashion-forward as it may be, a fanny pack will become your best friend while away. Pickpockets will appear when you least expect it, so keep your money, passport, and valuables where they can be protected at all times. From the Bahamas to Barcelona, I’ve witnessed it first hand. Some people also find it helpful to carry a fake wallet, so if you do get pickpocketed, your valuables are still protected.

8. Nature is unbelievable:From hiking volcanoes to climbing up paths that provide views over entire cities, you will never believe how beautiful a view is until you experience it yourself. Flowers, animals, and bodies of water you see while traveling while not compare to those that you see at home, so take a second and enjoy the beauty while it’s available to you (and take lots of pictures)!

9. The friends you make while traveling will last a lifetime:From waking up in one city and falling asleep in another to trying some of the strangest foods you’ll ever eat, there’s something special about friends that travel together. After a while of spending every single moment of the day together, I promise you that you will become extremely close (in the best way possible, of course). Through the laughs, tears, rotating shower schedules, and late night treats, the people you spend your trips with will always hold a special place in your heart.

10. You are one of the luckiest people to walk the Earth:Needless to say you already know this. Having the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures other than your own is a special privilege. Not many people around the world have the opportunity to see and enjoy the things I’ve gotten to see and I am thankful for the opportunities I have every day. Because of this, I’ve learned to appreciate and admire every place I visit, person I meet, and thing I learn. Experience anything and everything you possibly can, because it may be gone before you know it.