Lessons learned while traveling can be funny, useful or transcendental. Here is a good collection of situations we’ve all encountered and the lessons we’ve learned from them.
The number one thing we have learned while traveling is to bring toilet paper or tissues everywhere you go!!
In China, you may see a sign outside of a public toilet with a star rating. Three stars or more, you will find toilet paper. Some of the paper is of questionable quality, though. It falls apart quickly so it isn’t the most reliable in all situations.
A one or two-star toilet will not offer ANY toilet paper.
In more rural areas we had to get creative with our hand gestures trying to ask for some much needed TP. It created a funny situation as you can imagine, but we learned to be more prepared in the days following.
In any country, you NEVER KNOW when you will be in a situation where the bathroom is out of toilet paper, the restaurant does not provide enough napkins, or you need to clean up a random mess.
You also don’t want to be like Elaine from Seinfeld asking to spare a square, so just pack every time! Hey, lessons learned.
Gina’s and Zeke’s blog is Jet Set and Forget
KEEP AN OPEN MIND
One big lesson learned from travelling is how important it is to keep an open mind as to what you may see and experience. This is especially important if you are travelling to a place that has a completely different culture and ways of doing things. For example, when travelling around various parts of Asia you may use Tuk Tuks which are three wheeled open air vehicles. The experience of riding on one can be pretty scary. The Tuk Tuks may zoom along the road towards oncoming traffic! This can be quite a scary and shocking experience if you’ve never been on one before. However, you can ask the driver to slow down if you feel the need.
Another thing that may seem strange is seeing large amounts of people riding a single motorbike. Whilst travelling Vietnam I sometimes saw up to six people on a single bike. Most of these were kids and not wearing helmets. I even saw some kids riding the motorbike who may not have been 10 years old! If you are coming from a western society with strict traffic rules and regulations you may find this quite strange and shocking at first, but again it’s just the way it is.
Travelling for me is all about experiences. It can be extremely interesting and rewarding to see how other people live even if you don’t agree with what you see. If you do go somewhere and you don’t embrace the culture and society you probably won’t enjoy yourself very much.
Mike Clegg’s blog is Travel and Destinations.
HOW TO OVERCOME OBSTACLES
As someone whose main purpose for traveling is training martial arts, I’d say one of the biggest lessons learned for me is how to overcome obstacles. Several years ago I went to a live in Kung Fu school in the mountains of China. I had my first full contact fight there. I had done light sparring before but this was different. I was terrified by the thought of really being hit and of hitting someone back. The first time the fights were held I made all kinds of excuses not to join in; martial arts wasn’t about violence, I didn’t believe in ring-fighting etc., etc. The reality was I was scared.
The second time the fight was held I decided to give it a try anyway. As soon as I stepped into the ring my adrenaline kicked in and I don’t remember anything until the three minute timer went off. There was a rest period before the second round and the same thing happened again. Watching the videos, I saw my fight was quite bad: mostly just me flailing my arms madly and taking a lot of punches to the head. The rest of the day I was kind of dazed. However, this taught me one valuable lesson which applies not only to martial arts, but to any aspect of life: we only grow once we step outside our comfort zone and confront our fears. For me this was being hit, for others it may be traveling solo, bungee jumping, public speaking or something else.
Will’s blog is Monkey Steals Peach.
CHECK AND CONFIRM PRICES
One of my best lessons learned while traveling is “always confirm the price of something before you agree to purchase it.”
When you travel you frequently find yourself in situations where you agree to purchase a product or a service without knowing exactly what it will cost beforehand. You are in unfamiliar surroundings, dealing with different currencies and exchange rates.
You’ve heard the stories about the airport taxi in some Asian city that charged an outrageous sum for what should have been a $12.00 fare?
In my case, I accepted a waiter’s recommendation for the “special of the day” in Barcelona without asking the price. It was delicious but outrageously expensive when I got the bill. Another time I decided to step into a little-hole-in-the-wall beauty salon in Dubai for a quick manicure. The place was so unassuming I figured it couldn’t possibly cost more than a few dollars. I was shocked when I got the bill!
In all these cases, the surprise – and cost – could have been avoided by confirming the price beforehand.
Don’t assume prices you are familiar with at home; seafood, wine, services, transportation, etc. are comparable abroad. Always know the price of something before you agree to purchase. Don’t be shy about confirming the price. It’s not rude, its smart.
Talek Nantes’ Blog is Travels with Talek.
Read part one of this post for more lessons learned.
Have you ever regretted not confronting a vendor while on a trip?