Top 5 Lessons Learned From Traveling

1. The World Is Full of Good People

Everywhere you go, you will meet nice, generous, genuine people. Travelers sometimes seem to attract Good Samaritans who are willing to go out of their way to show them to their destination, help them translate something, or offer friendly advice. If you get the courage to speak to the locals, you will probably be pleasantly surprised.

2. Most of the World Is Happier With Less

Time and time again, I am inspired by locals I meet who are happier than anyone I know and who live on less than most North Americans think they ever could.  Costa Rica is routinely named the happiest country on the planet. There are certainly Costa Ricans, or “Ticos”, who have a surplus of money, but many live day to day in homes passed on to them by their parents, living a very simple life with simple food and simple possessions.

3. I Can Handle Anything

No, seriously. A-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. Food poisoning? A nice weight loss plan. No running water for 4 days? Time to learn how to shower with a bucket and a cup. Stolen passport and next day return flight? I can pour on the drama at the embassy. Week long strike at the border I need to drive through? Time to change our travel plans! When you are traveling, you are out of your comfort zone, you don’t have your support system with you, and you have to figure things out on the fly.

4. Most of My Possessions Are Meaningless

If I can survive a month with the contents of a suitcase or two, what is the purpose of all of these other things I have around? When you come back home after a few weeks or more of traveling, everything seems to be put into perspective. Experiences are what really make us rich, and our possessions just weigh us down.

5. No Thing Can Make You Happier

If travel has taught me one thing, it is that happy people are happy wherever they are and miserable people are miserable wherever they are. If you have convinced yourself that the next promotion, the next move, a new car, your next child, or a new spouse will make you happier, I believe that you are living in a delusion.  If you can complain about life now, you will complain about it when it is different in 3 months, 3 years, and 3 decades. Happiness is a state of mind, and once you have your basic needs met- including food, shelter, and safety- research has proven that the amount of money and other worldly possessions that you has very little effect on your level of happiness.