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April 9, 2014

Discuss: What is the Most Important Lesson Travel has Taught You?

What is the biggest lesson you learned from traveling?

It is often said that travel can be a transformative experience. That the things you learn while traveling will change you. However, we often talk about it in general terms without giving much thought to how it actually has changed us. So, I want to know, what is the most important lesson that travel has taught you?

For me, I think that travel has taught me perspective.

When you live in the bubble of a country, you often take for granted your way of life and how your life can affect others around the world. However, when you get out of your comfort zone and travel outside your country, you can really get a glimpse of the lives of others.

It’s sort of like growing up with your family. When you’re a kid, you often just accept that the way your family does things is the right way. However, as you get older and you start to see the lives of your friends and significant others, you start to realize that maybe your family isn’t quite as “normal” as you thought. Even in the most well-adjusted family, there are still things that you did that others will find strange, and vice versa.

It’s also interesting to gain perspective on how the actions of one country can affect people halfway around the world, both positively and negatively. As an American, I was heartbroken to hear about the US bombs that still explode regularly in Laos, but encouraged to see the many clean water projects in Cambodia.

Traveling can also teach you that the perspective you’re fed through the media isn’t necessarily true. For example, when I was living in South Korea, many friends and family were worried for my safety because American news made it seem like the peninsula was on the brink of war. However, in Korea, no one was the least bit worried that things might become bad.

So, while I’ve learned many things during my travels, I think that perspective has been the biggest and most important lesson, one that has impacted many aspects of my life.

But what about you? What is the biggest lesson that travel has taught you? Let me know in the comments section below!


  1. Marcus

    You go on traveling around the world to get known a lot about different cultures, to broaden your horizon, to escape your daily business and to see the big picture etc.
    This is all true, BUT the most important is often neglected. You learn a lot about you and what makes you tick. And the country you get to know best is your homeland. You always compare!

  2. Travel has taught me so many things I doubt I could narrow it down to just one lesson. However I think you hit the nail right on the head with “perspective.” That kind of covers the spread, no?

    One of the biggest things I’ve learned so far is that there are always more to be learned, more lessons to be had. A couple weeks ago I wrote a post entitled How Long-Term Travel Changes People Forever and in it said that travel “shapes you, molds you, teaches you, humbles you, and yes, even sometimes scares you. But it’s all for the best.” That to me still happens on a weekly basis — even after five years of traveling — and somehow I doubt it will ever stop.

    Cheers to travel!

  3. Marvin Israel

    I’ve learned that very few places are as wondrous as travel literature makes them out to be. And even the few that *are* wondrous require plenty of hassle like long, miserable plane rides, sweltering heat, packing and unpacking, etc. And given that I’m insecure and anxious, going to foreign language destinations on my own without a tour group really stresses me out. There’s the study of the language, Italian, French, Spanish, German and there’s making the reservations for places to stay and then there’s trying to decipher the announcements at the train station when they change the track, and figuring out whether it’s okay to touch the fruit or not at the market stall, etc.

    (I do one trip a year (can’t afford more) to break out of my predictable daily routine. I’ve taken small group tours to Turkey, China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Namibia, Botswana, large group tour to Russia (never again with a large group) and traveled on my own to Mexico, Cuba (just when Castro took over), Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Scotland, England, Israel, Dominica. I still want to visit Spain, Greece, Japan and Bali.

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