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20 Things I’ve Learnt from Travelling the World

  • September 28, 2017
  • By 50 Shades
  • 25 Comments
20 Things I’ve Learnt from Travelling the World

Over the past twenty or so years I have done a lot of travelling. Not only have I seen my own country from coast to coast, but I’ve also travelled to Europe, UK & Ireland, USA, Canada, South East Asia, Central America, the Pacific Islands and the Middle East. During this time the 20 things I’ve learnt from travelling the world have generally been acquired the hard way. They say that the best way to learn life’s lessons is to make mistakes.

So here’s some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learnt on my travels:

  1. Patience is a virtue. If you can’t stand long queues, long waits at airports, waiting for service or waiting for travel companions, then travel is not for you!
  2. Less is more. You don’t need to lug around a big suitcase packed with clothing and shoes. Try to be frugal with your packing and remember that most places offer a laundry service or you can wash out your clothing yourself in most hotels.
  3. Be prepared to taste different foods. Cuisine is unique to all different countries so be prepared to eat food that you wouldn’t normally eat at home.20 Things I've learnt from Travelling the World
  4. Good manners go a long way. I hate it when I see travellers treat waiting staff and hotel employees like second class citizens. Use your pleases and thank you’s and remember that most staff are only doing their jobs and are in some cases very poorly paid.
  5. Talk to the locals. The best way to find out the top places to see, eat or drink is by asking a local. They can give you crucial information about the place you’re visiting and a lot of them speak relatively good English.
  6. Respect for other cultures. Every country has their own customs and culture, so when in their country respect these. If you need to cover your hair or shoulders in a Muslim country do so.Less is more. You don't need to lug around a big suitcase packed with clothing and shoes. Try to be frugal with your packing and remember that most places offer a laundry service or you can wash out your clothing yourself in most hotels.
  7. Take a good pair of walking shoes. The best way to get around and really experience a travel destination is to do it by foot. So make sure you pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes.
  8. Be prepared to get out of your comfort zone. Don’t just be a tourist. Get out and about and experience new sights and adventures. Feed an elephant, go jungle trekking, swim under a waterfall and go parasailing.
  9. Don’t expect the comforts of home. We take for granted things like clean drinkable water and clean flushable toilets or pillow-top mattresses. However the reality is that not all countries have our high standard of sanitation and a lot of hotels have hard foam mattresses, particularly in South East Asia.20 Things I've learnt from Travelling the World
  10. Get off the beaten track. I’m actually not a fan of guided group tours and I like to go off on my own with my camera and explore a new place. I find some tourist attractions to be far too crowded and cliché.
  11. Enjoy the moment. I have been guilty of being too focused on getting a perfect photo and not actually being present in a moment when I’ve travelled. Learn to put your camera down and take in that gorgeous view or moment.20 Things I've learnt from Travelling the World
  12. Don’t be in too much of a rush. Try to spend the right amount of time at each travel destination so that you’re not rushing around trying to see everything.
  13. Take time out. Travelling can be exhausting if you’re on a tight schedule make sure you make room for a couple of rest days to recuperate.
  14. Seize the day. Unless you’re on a total veg out holiday, get up early and enjoy the place before it gets too busy and crowded. I’ve found that most major tourist attractions, markets or shopping centres are less crowded early in the morning or late in the afternoon. 20 things I've learnt from travelling the world
  15. Take good care of yourself. Try to eat healthily, don’t drink too much alcohol, get enough sleep and get some daily exercise so that you’re not a complete sloth during your holiday.
  16. Do your homework. Make sure you have some idea of where you want to go or what you want to see each day of your holiday. Have a rough plan or itinerary prior to embarking on your trip.
  17. Take advantage of the region’s speciality. If you’re in Tuscany, try their cheap wines; If you’re in Vietnam, try their beer; If you’re in Amsterdam get around by bicycle; and if you’re in France sample their selection of cheeses.20 Things I've learnt from Travelling the World
  18. Don’t be too precious or complain! There is nothing worse than the complaining traveller who is unhappy with every single thing. Harden up princess it isn’t always going to be a fairytale!
  19. Learn to use a map. Getting lost in a new city or town is no fun! Grab a map and follow it or ask a local for directions.
  20. Smile and have fun! Holidays are for enjoyment so put a smile on your face and be happy.

In summary here’s one of my favourite travel quotes:

Travel is never a matter of money but of courage.” — Paulo Coelho

Do you have any more words or wisdom when it comes to travel?

This post is part of the Lovin’ Life Linky with a Lovin’ Life Team of the “ageing positively” kind who are as keen as I am to promote the Lovin’ Life mindset. The Lovin’ Life Team includes:

Lyndall from Seize the Day Projectlovin-life-linky
Deb from DebbishDotCom
Min from Write of the Middle.
Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit
Jo from And Anyways
and of course me, Kathy from 50 Shades of Age


By 50 Shades, September 28, 2017 Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 4 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now 60. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland. She enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, movies, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
  • 25

50 Shades

Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 4 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now 60. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland. She enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, movies, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

25 Comments
  • Sandy from Tray Tables Away
    September 28, 2017

    Lots of great tips here ! I especially believe in the respect of other cultures and this is why we have had so many great adventures in the Middle East in particular. Too many people should just stay home !

    • Kathy
      September 28, 2017

      I agree Sandy. On our recent trip a lot of other tourists peeved me. Some of them are impatient, rude and abnoxious. They come to foreign countries and expect (or demand) the same creature comforts of home, and as we know this simply does not happen in some places. #TeamLovinLife

  • Min@WriteoftheMiddle
    September 28, 2017

    What great tips! I need you here now helping me to pack for a 3 night trip to Canberra. I’m not even leaving the country! lol I am not as travelled as you and I am terrible at packing. I always pack too much. I need to edit and cut back today. Love all your tips and agree with them all. Can’t stand whinging, whining, complaining travellers … and doing some research and planning before a trip makes for a more organised and relaxing time I think! #TeamLovinLife

    • Kathy
      September 28, 2017

      I’ll be right there! Seriously though I used to overpack all the time, but after many overseas trips I’ve learnt that less is more. Lugging around a big heavy suitcase when you’re travelling is no fun. After my recent trip I saw many “ugly tourists”, and not in the physical sense, but just plain rude and ignorant. Have a great trip to Canberra. #TeamLovinLife

  • Natalie
    September 28, 2017

    Excellent list, Kathy! I just posted my 5 tips to stay fit while traveling a few days ago, similar to your point #15. I’m going to Ireland next week and am interested in learning about your experience there.

  • Jo Tracey
    September 28, 2017

    Absolutely to all of these. I travelled to Taiwan once with a girlfriend who ate nothing but pringles the whole time & cringed as I tried all the wonderful food from the street vans.#TeamLovinLife

    • Kathy
      September 28, 2017

      Oh no! That’s what I’m talking about. You have to try at least some of the cuisine because that is what the travel experience is all about. I’m not over-the-top adventurous with food (because I have a sensitive tummy), but I like to try different things (even is they sometimes make me feel squeamish!) #TeamLovinLife

  • Jo
    September 28, 2017

    Yes to all of these.Love how you embrace being a travelker and a learner. I see some people travelling and wonder why they didn’t stay st home and save their money! Travel has so many benefits but you need to keep your eyes wide open and have a certain amount of fortitude to maximise the experiences.

    • Kathy
      September 28, 2017

      I’ve certainly learnt a lot from travelling Jo. I’m getting more and more inclined to get off the beaten track away from the touristy areas because I find other tourists very annoying! Some of them are absolute pains. I agree that some people should stay home. #TeamLovinLife

  • jodie filogomo
    September 28, 2017

    These are perfect ways to enjoy the travel. But really…they could be for everyday around your own town too, right?
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Kathy
      September 28, 2017

      Yes absolutely Jodie. It’s all about having respect for others and learning to be more tolerant and patient. This all goes hand in hand to get the most out of your travel experiences. #TeamLovinLife

  • Sydney Shop Girl
    September 28, 2017

    Great list, Kathy! You’ve got me feeling so very excited about my travel plans for next year!

    SSG xxx

    • Kathy
      September 28, 2017

      I’m so glad that I’ve incited some excitement. Travel is fabulous but you have to have the right mindset to really enjoy the total experience. #TeamLovinlife

  • Jan Wild
    September 28, 2017

    Great tips Kathy and one never stops learning. Can I just put in a plug for not riding elephants; they are treated very cruelly by their handlers.

    • Kathy
      September 28, 2017

      Thanks Jan. Yes in hindsight, I wish I’d never mentioned elephant riding because it is something that I no longer do. Maybe I should have replaced that with a visit to an elephant sanctuary. #TeamLovinLife

  • Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au
    September 28, 2017

    I love practical lists like this Kathy – you can tell it comes from a wealth of experience. I fail dismally on the patience point – I really hate all the waiting around at airports, but it’s part of the travel experience these days so I’m learning to suck it up and smile. My biggest problem is my husband has to be “doing” something the entire time while I like chilling out – compromise is a big thing for us.

    • Kathy
      September 29, 2017

      Thanks Leanne. I used to be very impatient too, but I have learnt that it doesn’t get you anywhere faster. All it does is stress you out and you’re supposed to be going a holiday! Unfortunately with the way the world is now all the security checks and border checks are highly necessary. It would be nice to revert back to how air travel used to be.#TeamLovinLife

  • Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond
    September 29, 2017

    Hi Kathy! This was the perfect list for me to read three days before I leave for our Spanish Adventure. Like you, I’ve been very fortunate to travel and it is such an enriching experience. I was nodding at each of your points but the ones that really resonated were to be patient, be courtesy and have manners – I too hate seeing others treat staff like servants. The point about not being in a rush is so important. You need to actually feel where you are don’t you? I’ve been guilty of just concentrating on capturing the moment in photos rather than in my mind’s eye. Thanks for the tips!

    • Kathy
      September 29, 2017

      I’m glad that these points resonated with you Sue. I see so many rude and arrogant tourists when I’m travelling and hate the fact that they aren’t even “taking in the moment” but are more focused on taking selfies! A holiday is a holiday – not a race to cram in as much as you can and certainly not the time to be “too precious”. I hope you have a marvellous holiday. Spain will be delightful. #TeamLovinLife

  • Deborah
    September 29, 2017

    Kathy, I love all of these and I think some apply to everyday life as well as travel in other places and countries.

    The thing I’m not very good at is trying new food. I’m not even very good at that here (hence the complete lack of vegetables and fruit in my diet), but I love your comments about respecting other cultures, peoples and places and NOT expecting it to be like home. Cos we wouldn’t travel otherwise would we?! (So frustrating when people won’t move out of their comfort zone at all!)

    • Kathy
      September 29, 2017

      They certainly do apply to everyday life. I know a lot of people who are fussy eaters when it comes to trying new foods. I’m a little fussy myself but try to make myself try different foods in different countries. Surprisingly there hasn’t been too much I haven’t liked (except I don’t do offal!) True, if we can’t respect cultural differences we shouldn’t travel in the first place. #TeamLovinLife

  • Rhonda Albom
    September 30, 2017

    I completely agree with this list. Well done. We learned early to travel light, and I have almost taken it too far. I can do carry on for up to about six weeks. I bring a travel laundry line. The one I agree with, but we fail on all the time is to get up early and beat the crowds. Unless there is a compelling reason, we are lazy morning travellers.

    • Kathy
      October 1, 2017

      I have mastered carry on yet, but would love to. Not too sure about 6 weeks though! We’re early risers so we like to get up early and get to the tourist sites early before the crowds swarm in. #TeamLovinLife

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