50 lessons learnt from travelling the world

| September 19, 2012 | 96 Comments

After more than 3 years on the road we have had more “that was the best day of my life” days than we can count. And more “I am NEVER going to do that ever again” days than we care to remember.

Over 30 countries through more than 5 continents has tested us to our absolute limits. Physically and emotionally. Individually and as a travelling couple.

Four Jandals Egypt Pyramids

After so long on the road, we have learnt a thing or two about travelling and about ourselves. These are our 50 lessons learnt from travelling the world. And while they may not relate to everyone, you may just learn something to help you on your next adventure.

50 lessons learnt from travelling the world

  1. Jandals are the only travel necessity you need.
  2. Lack of food while travelling makes for a very angry Cole.
  3. Lack of sleep while travelling make for a very angry Adela.
  4. War and politics may divide countries and people. Yet somehow travelling makes these problems disappear.
  5. Travelling as a couple has made our relationship stronger.
  6. It is okay to say no to things that you don’t want to do.
  7. Jasper National Park is nearly more beautiful than New Zealand.

    A Guide to Visiting Jasper National Park

  8. Anyone can do adventurous travel activities. You just need the willpower.
  9. Travel should be done as slowly as possible. Where feasible.
  10. As we get older, we appreciate a little more luxury.
  11. Adela definitely doesn’t like caving.

    Four Jandals Caving in Budapest

  12. Flights at the crack of dawn are always the cheapest. Because they suck.
  13. Overland travel is so much easier than flying.
  14. You should NEVER kiss a snake in Marrakech.
    Wash your hands after handling snakes in Marrakech
  15. And travelling sick sucks. You need to stay healthy at all costs.
  16. Airport currency exchange counters give you terrible rates.
  17. Australians are everywhere. And contrary to popular belief, New Zealand is NOT a part of Australia.
  18. Hindsight when travelling is a wonderful idea.
  19. Sunrises are worth waking up early for. Always.
    La Notte Rosa sunrise in Rimini
  20. You should travel for a reason. Not just so say that you can say that you have travelled to the next “popular” destination.
  21. You should change your plans just so you can eat a local food delicacy.
  22. Working overseas while you are travelling allows you to travel longer.
  23. It is okay to request timeouts while travelling as a couple. Timeouts even work when stuck beside each other in a car driving across Canada and USA.
  24. Las Vegas really is an adults version of Disneyland.
  25. Get naked if the locals are naked so that you fit in with them.
  26. Skype is the worlds best invention for keeping in touch with family and friends.
  27. McDonald’s are everywhere. But we will only enter one to use their bathroom.
  28. Peeing in squat toilets is really hard. Prepare to get your feet wet the first few times.
  29. Street food is tastier and so much cheaper compared to touristy restaurants.
    Street food in Egypt Falafel
  30. Learning a tiny bit of the local language can get you so much respect in a new culture.
  31. It is not okay to stereotype people based on their race, religion, accent or the way they dress, before you get to know them. No matter how many times the stereotype turns out to be right.
  32. Cute Highland Cows will make the toughest or grumpiest person in the world smile.
    Cute Highland Cow pictures
  33. International media are often wrong. Most places they deem “unsafe” are, in fact, very safe.
  34. Amsterdam is a crazy place. But there is more to it than smoking weed and visiting peep shows.
  35. If travelling as a couple, make time for “date nights”.
  36. You need to have travel insurance. Especially if you are Adela.
    Snowboarding Broken Collarbone
  37. Exercise and routine can be important while travelling.
  38. So is sitting back on a beach and relaxing for the day.
  39. Travelling should make you open your eyes to change.
  40. When you are not looking for a toilet, they are everywhere. When you are busting, you will never find one.
  41. And paying for toilets will never become less annoying.
  42. No matter how much you have learnt about the Pyramids in Egypt, they will blow your mind in person.
  43. The more you travel, the more places and adventures we continue to add to our dream list.
  44. You should tear up your bucket list. Instead, live in the here and now.
  45. The Roman Colosseum is probably the coolest structure in the world.
    Colisseum Pictures, Rome Pictures
  46. Couples should have to travel together before they get married.
  47.  We prefer exploring adventures by ourselves, rather than on group tours.
  48. Jumping photos make pictures so much cooler.
    Cole jumping photo Eiffel Tower
  49. Nowhere is quite like home. But that is why you should travel the world.
  50. If something is holding you back from seeing the world. Quit doing that thing. Nothing should stop you from travelling.

Check out all these other awesome travel tips from us.

About the Author ()

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

Comments (96)

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  1. Nice list! A pic of a cute highland cow made my day. And, YES, Australians are everywhere! :)
    Memographer recently posted..A Story of Vietnamese Leaf HatMy Profile

  2. Andrew says:

    Great post! I can definitely relate to most of those points (and if Jasper Park really is *nearly* more beautiful than NZ, I’ll definitely have to put it on my list!)
    Andrew recently posted..Istanbul in Two Days (part 2)My Profile

  3. Good lessons. Agree with #4 completely. Disagree with #1 completely (I rarely wear them and hate feet)! :)
    Jeremy Branham recently posted..Discover Hawaii’s oldest island – a Kauai photo journeyMy Profile

  4. Ashley says:

    This is so true and made me laugh- Flights at the crack of dawn are always the cheapest. Because they suck.

    Also I loved the picture of the highland calf. So adorable.
    Ashley recently posted..Cool Souvenirs to pick up around the WorldMy Profile

  5. Number 12 really hits home! Cheap flights save you so much money, but the ungodly hour makes you lose your sanity, sometimes. And, they just suck! :)

  6. Thanks for the tips. I am hoping to make the comparison between New Zealand and Jasper myself before too much longer!!

    While I have not taken the long term trip like you have I have tried to have a ‘travelling spirit’ as we go through life. This means that where possible we try to get out of the house and explore our local area. And we have hopefully set up a child free date night in the next week where we intend to go and explore our hometown of Brisbane!
    Pretraveller recently posted..How to Confidently Change or Cancel Your TripMy Profile

  7. Amanda says:

    Great lessons! Totally agree with almost all of them – especially #46!
    Amanda recently posted..Best Blogs of the SummerMy Profile

  8. Great life lessons. I definitely agree that every couple should travel together before they get married. You’ll learn all you need to know in a very short period of time. Recently, we found ourselves getting up way before dawn because of a time change. Each time we saw the sunrise I was reminded why it’s worth waking up for. Beautiful photos!
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..PANAMA Photos- Glamping, Fishing, Dolphins & RainbowsMy Profile

  9. Awesome stuff…so many of these made me chuckle either from experience, or from reading the story behind the lesson here:)
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..The B Ocean Resort – Check-In FloridaMy Profile

  10. Very good tips, I can defiantly relate to most of them, apart from the jandals of course as I don’t lift my feet.
    Lee Carter @ Global Goose recently posted..It’s Your Trip Not Anyone Else’s – Dealing With Travel PressureMy Profile

  11. Callie says:

    Good list (especially the part about the cow. Freaking adorable.)! Also, good meeting you at TBEX!
    Callie recently posted..CORREFOCMy Profile

  12. Angie Away says:

    That cow is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! And your list is great – No. 50 sums it up nicely!
    Angie Away recently posted..Where to Next? Win a Trip with Me & @Intrepid_TravelMy Profile

  13. Angela says:

    I totally relate with #9 and 32! I travel slowly and those cutest things ever do make smile (and I’m also grumpy sometimes :P)
    Angela recently posted..Loud and proud, meet Fortaleza and its art (VIDEO)My Profile

  14. Very true about toilets. And very true about street food.

    And even truer about traveling as a couple. So many people underestimate how hard it is to travel as a couple, sometimes – and I mean travel, not a week vacation to an all-inclusive resort. Long term travel with a significant other can be both wonderful and exhausting, romantic and aggravating. It really is a good test before marriage. And it worked wonderfully in my case, going on 6 years now :)

    Our first test? Living together abroad for one year, in a 18m2 apartment in Camden. When we were done, I said that if we had gotten through this, we could get through anything!
    EurotripTips recently posted..Monday’s Postcard: The Cliffs of Moher, IrelandMy Profile

  15. Andrea says:

    So true! The best lessons are learned when you step out of your comfort zone and go explore the world! Some of the lessons I have learned have proven to be invaluable in my daily life and I am more adaptable to difficult situations now.
    Andrea recently posted..It’s Official…I’m Off to Costa Rica this Spring!My Profile

  16. I agree sunrises are worth it and early morning flights truly are the worst!

    Great list!

  17. Great list!! Keep safe while traveling and enjoy your adventures!

  18. ANGLO/Dale says:

    Too many points to comment on, but the one that I can’t ‘completely’ agree with is number 42 ‘The Roman Colosseum is probably the coolest structure in the world’.

    Personally, I don’t even think it’s the best building in Rome.
    For me it’s got to be the ‘Square’ Colosseum : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_della_Civilt%C3%A0_Italiana

    Check it out :)
    ANGLO/Dale recently posted..Mostar: A Piece Of Recent History!My Profile

  19. Fun list–here, here for # 19, 21 and 33!
    Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey recently posted..Brand New Brews on the Beach – El Tunco, El SalvadorMy Profile

  20. Laurence says:

    Wait a second – I spent a year in NZ under the impression it was just another Ozzie state!

    Seriously though, have to agree on the travelling as a couple. I reckon if you can survive long term 24/7 living, you can do anything!
    Laurence recently posted..My Spanish AdventureMy Profile

  21. Meeah says:

    Love the post!!! The cow is so adorable!!! :) and yes, jandals rock ;)
    I could relate with many points – keep safe while traveling and especially snowboarding!!

  22. Yes! to number 9.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Have you seen my O face?My Profile

  23. Ava Apollo says:

    Noted, I won’t kiss any snakes. Agree, sun rises are always worth waking up for. Great post :)
    Ava Apollo recently posted..The Shoulder Surgery that Pushed Me to TravelMy Profile

  24. I’m probably a tad older than most of your followers, but most of your assertions resonated for me, but I’ll comment on just a few
    #17: I’ve known for a long time that New Zealand is not part of Australia, but I am embarrassingly bad at differentiating the accents of NZ, Oz, Britain, Ireland, and South Africa. Before I assume an English speaker who sounds American is from the US, I trick them into saying the words “out” or “about”, so I won’t tick off any Canadians.
    #10: we do prefer “a little more luxury” as we age–like only sharing a room (and preferably a bathroom) with people we love–or at least are fond of
    #13: can’t say I agree that overland travel is always easier than flying—the Andes in Peru come immediately to mind
    #19: I wouldn’t get doctrinaire about ALWAYS waking up for sunrises. Sunsets are very nice too and are so much more conveniently timed.
    #28: squat toilets–something you can figure out how to use eventually (even ladies), but they are also something you are happy to avoid when possible. Travelers spend more time on average thinking about toilets than the general population. I was moved (pun intended) to write a blog post about the toilets in Japan.
    #32: Please tell me they don’t eat those incredibly cute highland cows.
    #45: I’m with Anglo Dale on this one. The Colosseum is kind of amazing in historical context and certainly a must see, but I’d have to think about this for awhile before anointing it the “coolest structure” in the world.
    #46: If you like to travel, you should definitely take your beloved out for a test trip before saying “I do”. My man passed with flying colors 31 years ago.
    #51: Q.: What’s the 8th wonder of the world? A. A Kiwi with a return ticket. (Told to us by a Kiwi theology student who gave us a tour of the Vatican.)
    Just One Boomer (Suzanne) recently posted..Aspen, Colorado – Skis OptionalMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Suzanne :) Always love having new commenters!

      Agree with lots of your points there. I do love the Colosseum (just not the crowds). And love your #51. Definitely using that at a later date :)

  25. Totally agree with #43…my list is never-ending and ever-growing…

  26. I too get cranky if I don’t eat, hehe. I’ve learned to either carry food with me, or take lots of cafe breaks. p.s. Those highland cows are pretty cute!
    Audrey | That Backpacker recently posted..Inside My Korean ApartmentMy Profile

  27. Addison S. @ Visa Hunter says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head here. Numbers 2 and 3 particularly bring back traveling memories of my own: the man must eat and the women must sleep. Whereas nowhere is quite like home, I am of the belief that it is definitely possible to find somewhere that matches up and I have fortunately found this place more than once.

    • Haha love that you agree with our eating and sleeping rules ;)

      Glad you have found a few places that match home. It is always just nice to return to that special place, and NZ is quite hard to beat really ;)

  28. You are right saying Australian people are everywhere. What I pitty I don’t see any Polish backpackers. Great tips. Travelling is a life lesson ;-) and I have learnt that Karma always gets back around :)
    Agness (@Agnesstramp) recently posted..Thailand: The Land of SmilesMy Profile

  29. Turtle says:

    Great lessons – love ‘em. Although I don’t know why you bothered going past number 1 :)
    Oh yeah, because you wanted to have a dig at the Aussies. Fair ‘nuf.

  30. Yeah, that’s cool. I am hoping to meet you guys on our travels in the future :) Happy travels!

  31. I’m having a hard time with #37 — I need more exercise! Great list!!
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..Offbeat Images: Toilet Signs in OmanMy Profile

  32. Laurie says:

    Great post The Roman Colosseum is probably the most amazing structure you could see. Love the history

  33. Awesome list you two, I feel like I could have written in myself… :) I especially like the one about Egypt, I’ve never been, I know tons about it and actually wondered the other day if Egypt would live up to my extremely high expectations of it… I want to believe it’ll blow me away when I finally get there.

  34. Nice (and some funny) tips :) Especially the cute cow and street food. I totally agree with the #49 and #50.

  35. Matt Gomio says:

    I love those pictures, especially the one jumping “against” the Eifel Tower – that’s more creative than just “picking it up”!

    Let’s stay connected and check out our Blog as well.
    I bookmarked this one :)

    Take care you both,
    Matt

  36. Tom says:

    Awesome list, Cole!

    I loved number 46 and wow, that highland cow was REALLY cute :D
    Tom recently posted..Travel Cinemagraph Series: Rotterdam, Part IMy Profile

  37. Agree with so many of these! Particularly 46 haha. Love all your travel lessons, we have learnt so much in the past year and a bit. I think the big one is that our relationship is the best tool we have when travelling the world. Travelling together long term is such an amazing experience that we will remember forever.
    Trudy Florence recently posted..Travel Cinemagraph Series: Rotterdam, Part IMy Profile

  38. Laurie says:

    Your are right on the mark. Love 49
    Laurie recently posted..Good Friday 2013My Profile

  39. Cho says:

    Love the little moo in the middle of the post!! I would definitely travel!!

  40. Alexandra says:

    I have to revist Amsterdam as apparently I didn’t see everything the city had to offer :)

    Seriously though, great list! I’m in the process of booking my second RTW flight in less than two years. I can’t even begin to fathom the lessons I will learn traveling overland through Africa and India

    BTW: We Hawaiian call them Slippahs and I really don’t understand why I ever bring any other type of footwear with me
    Alexandra recently posted..To be or not to be a tourist in Barcelona with WimduMy Profile

  41. Australians are everywhere! …and YOU love it
    Ian [EagerExistence] recently posted..Travel Itinerary: The Art of UnplanningMy Profile

  42. Cute and entertaining list! :) I love travel because it teaches me things I would have never learned reading a book or sitting in a classroom. And the best lesson from traveling is that there’s always more to learn!
    Kay Rodriguez recently posted..I’m Officially a BratisloverMy Profile

    • Whole heartedly agree 100% Kay! Those 50 lessons are only the tip of the iceberg of what we have learnt. More importantly we have discovered food, cultures and friendships that will remain with us forever.

  43. Eartha says:

    I LOVE… absolutely LOVE this list!!! (And yes I did smile at that highland cow photo!) I’m about to do an RTW that starts in a couple months, and I will live and breathe this list.
    You guys are awesome! Keep traveling!

    Xo
    Eartha recently posted..5 Reasons Why You Should Travel With ContikiMy Profile

  44. Anita says:

    Some great advice, Jandals! I especially like #44. Living in the here and now is not easy to do…but it’s so satisfying!

  45. Wally says:

    I thought only Canadians had to blog about simple travel experiences.

  46. Wally says:

    Although I do agree with #9

  47. david fountain says:

    Great info…also…wear sunscreen!

  48. Matt says:

    As someone who is about to embark on a 6 month+ round the world journey with his wife and two best friends, its posts like this that make me smile (75% because of that ADORABLE cow). You have reminded me that I have no reason to be scared, I can’t WAIT to see all the sights, the pyramids, the food….the list is endless. I agree that if anything is holding you back just do it! I’m scared, excited, nervous, happy and sad that I’m leaving everything behind all at once…and I wouldn’t change a thing! Thank for for the inspiration!
    Matt recently posted..Couchsurfing – Free lodging across the world?My Profile

  49. I agree with the lessons you wrote here,i kept smiling while reading each lines. When I was just starting out traveling overseas, I always get ripped off by airport money changers, now I learned it’s cheaper to take money out from the ATM when abroad.
    Dream Holidays Guide recently posted..Sydney for First TimersMy Profile

  50. cathie says:

    No. 47. Enter Micky d’s for one other reason…ice!

  51. Mj says:

    Hmm I definitely agree ! I am Asian and first time to travel out of my country. When you start to travel and get out from your comfort zone you will realize that there is much more fun in the neighborhood :) travelling tells you a lot , learned a lot of things and the questions you have in mind were answered by your foot steps :). Thanks a lot for Sharing your travel tips and learnings :)

  52. rrenny says:

    Jumping does make pictures look so much better.. Especially at parks, lakes and on hills. It kind of emits the joy and exuberance.
    rrenny recently posted..Know About Simple Ways of Getting Cheap AccommodationMy Profile

  53. Great list and so true! I think routine and doing something you feel is beneficial are some of the most important things while traveling.
    cham (volunteertravel) recently posted..Meeting GandhiMy Profile

  54. Great post. I agree that adventurous activities certainly take a certain amount of willpower which I am sadly lacking in! Well done to have gone caving- Must have been an unforgettable experience. Definitely paying to use the toilet is still one of my greatest peeves.

  55. Jaryd says:

    Awesome list number 8 sums it all up – Anyone can do adventurous travel activities, you just need the willpower. Love it! The greatest thing I have learned whilst traveling over 6 continents is that endorsing yourself in the culture of each country truly helps you to understand their way of life.

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