Travel is one of the most enriching life experiences. It gives us an opportunity to explore new lands, to experience different cultures, to try things, to taste foreign foods, to meet new people, and to learn more about ourselves.
I recently asked eight travel blogger friends to weigh in on one simple question, and they answered based on their life experiences. Read their great takeaways about lessons they’ve learned over the years. I hope you will be just as inspired as I am to travel more to see our world.
“What’s something you wish you’d done sooner (when it comes to travel)?”
1. Don’t Wait to Travel.
“Don’t wait. Just to get this straight from the beginning: I don’t regret anything. But there’s one thing to be said. And that’s: Don’t wait. Don’t wait for better weather. Don’t wait for a special offer. Don’t wait for someone taking you by the hand. Don’t wait for the right time. There is no better time to start getting to know the world than now.
It’s not hard to find a reason not to leave, but if you’re waiting for tomorrow, you’re running the risk to arrange with the dreams of an armchair traveler. Don’t only dream it. Do it. It must not be the month-long round-the-world-trip right now, but I’m convinced there’s always some time. Time for smaller adventures: A weekend kayaking that river next to your hometown. A night in the woods right behind the house. Time for larger undertakings: That city you’ve always wanted to see. The summit you’re really keen to crest. And yes, that round-the-world-trip. Why not? Don’t wait for tomorrow. Be one of those people who prefer to regret something they’ve done rather than something they didn’t. Maybe I could have started earlier. Maybe I should have. But it’s never too late. Don’t wait.”
Jens Notroff is a Berlin-based archaeologist (with a background in history and journalism as well). Currently involved in research projects in the Middle East and Scandinavia. Interested in the Neolithic and Bronze Age, with a particular concern for the representation of power and social hierarchy in prehistoric societies, places of cult and ritual and the question of their archaeological evidence as well as burial customs and mortuary ritual. Committed to and promoting cultural heritage protection and conservation projects, internationally and in particular in conflict zones. Traveling and travel-writing. Public speaker: expeditions, archaeology, cultural heritage.
2. Take Advantage of Travel Rewards
“I wish I had found the right airline credit card. I moved to the US from Europe in 2002, and since then I’ve gone across the pond at least once a year.
To think of all the miles I could have earned…When I finally decided to join a frequent flier program, I ended up becoming a member of two, but active only in one. This means I’m stuck with a credit card I don’t use very often, but one that has an annual fee.”
Pola Henderson is the founder and editor of Jetting Around, a blog dedicated to city travel. Her writing and photography has also been published on CNN, Yahoo, and Expedia, among other outlets. Pola grew up in Krakow, Poland, lived in North Africa, and has called Chicago home since 2002. In addition to writing, Pola hosts a weekly city travel discussion on Twitter called #JAchat and international networking events for travelers, JA Café: Travel Talk Over Coffee.
3. Learn More Languages
“If there’s one thing I wish I had done sooner when it comes to travel, it’s to learn more languages! It may not be a unique wish, but it’s one that I could have been using for years to make my life easier! I used to be a European Tour Manager, which involved communicating with local partners who, through no fault of their own (we are the ones in non-English speaking countries – always remember!), didn’t have the best English. If I had known a bit more of French, Spanish, German, Croatian, etc., it would have made life a lot easier! Not knowing the language also meant I was never able to fully assimilate in all the different cultures I have been lucky to live in – a regret I will never truly get over. The experiences I feel I could have had if I was fluent in one of these languages I can’t imagine!”
Ben Lee started off traveling straight after university mixing exploring with work to fund it. He started off as a lifty working on Whistler during the winter season to a becoming a chef in Montreal. From there, Ben moved to Central Europe living in Prague and Budapest for the best part of the year before becoming a European Tour Manager leading tours all around the continent for 3 years. From this, he started Ever Thought of Trying offering unique European immersive travel experiences – such as language courses, so you can speak like locals & assimilate in their cultures like he once never could…!
4. Have No Regrets, And Learn How to Prep (Food) in the Wilderness
“Actually I don’t have any regrets, and no things of which I wish I would have done them sooner. To be really honest, it seems that I am very content with my life and experiences made while traveling. When I travel I thoroughly enjoy staying at pretty hotels, visiting interesting museums, captivating plays and of course eating at fancy restaurants.
On the other hand, I also love to go camping in the bush and spend a few fully self-contained weeks. When I started doing this, I schlepped kilos of rice and tomato sauce with me, to cook each night. Over the years, I started to enjoy cooking in the bush, and nowadays I even make my own bread on the campfire. In hindsight, one could say I wish I would have known earlier how easy it is to prepare food in the wilderness.”
After Dorothée Lefering lived in London and Melbourne, she moved to Berlin where she became the PR and Marketing Manager for a publishing house specialised on Australia and New Zealand. Today she is the publisher, writer, photographer, and social media manager for THE TOURISTIN: City to bush.
5. Start at a Young Age; Experience Life Through a Global Lens
“Ironically we were having a discussion about regrets a few weeks ago. I came to the conclusion, over a few beers, that I don’t regret much because if I had made different decisions I would more than likely have a different life than the one I have now. That being said, if I could get to the same place I am at today, I would have started traveling abroad at a younger age.
I took my first trip overseas at the age of 25 and it really changed me. Looking back at pre-25 me, I feel like I wasted a lot of time (and money) on meaningless things. I had traveled the US, which had its ups and downs, but I was just meandering and really never figured out who I was or who I wanted to be. Once I landed in a strange place for the first time my eyes and mind opened up. I became a sponge of my surroundings and saw that one way of living may not be the “only” way to live.
If I had not traveled abroad I wouldn’t be the person I am today and if I would have started earlier I believe I would have even more experiences that would have advanced my decisions along my life path. The takeaway from my decision is if you have not traveled abroad, do it now. Do not listen to people who say you cannot afford it or it’s a waste of money and time because it isn’t. It changes your life. If you have a passport, keep using it, we’re all better off when more people see life through the lens of the entire world instead of our small spot on a globe.”
Steve Grams is a father of two who has spent his married life traveling to the world’s beer capitals. He aims to support local beverage makers and bring some extra attention to these communities’ first craftsmen.
6. Absorb A Country’s Culture
“Something I wish I had done earlier was … absorb the culture for the place I was visiting. In my 20s, I visited Korea and Hong Kong, but ate only familiar American food. I visited Sydney Australia and London England and ate at Hard Rock Cafes. Now when I travel, I prefer to stay with locals, eat where they do, and explore off the beaten paths. That was not my philosophy when I first started traveling but I wish it was.”
Charles McCool is a Travel Ninja and Travel Rebel, Trip Designer at
@McCoolTravel, world’s savviest traveler since 1990. He also breaks software as a mobile tester. Read about his adventures at http://www.mccooltravel.com
7. Engage With Others & Share Great Stories
“Although I’ve been a writer, editor and traveler all my life, I wish I’d got into travel writing and blogging earlier. On my travels, I used to be fairly shy about engaging with people I didn’t know and I missed so much by trying to remain invisible. Now, knowing that I have to get ‘a story’ has led me to conversations with random people and that’s often where the best tips, stories and experiences come from. I thoroughly enjoy interacting with people from all cultures and walks of life. It may be a Bushman tracker who can neither read nor write, but who knows so much about the natural world that your definition of ‘uneducated’ is totally turned on its head. It may be a rural school child who has never ventured more than a few kilometres from home, or a highly qualified scientist who has circled the globe. I love to meet and hear the stories of people who are passionate about their small patch of earth, or daredevils determined to push beyond the boundaries of the known into something new and thrilling. And I learn something valuable from every one of them.”
Roxanne Reid is a writer, editor and blogger who is passionate about words and Africa. She is the author of three books, including two in the travel genre: Travels in the Kalahari and A Walk in the Park. Her articles and photos have appeared in magazines like Getaway, Wild and Country Life, as well as online. She runs her own travel blog, which focuses on African travel, people, wildlife, heritage and small country villages. She’s happiest in the middle of nowhere, meeting the locals, trying something new, or simply watching the grass grow. For more about African travel, follow her on Twitter, Instagram or her Africa Addict Facebook page.
8. Take Quality Photos