54 Life Lessons 14 Years of World Travel Taught Me

54 Life Lessons from Travelling the World

This post was written by Caz, author of the y Travel Blog.

Travel means so much more to me than simply seeing new destinations and learning about new cultures.  Travel is a journey within myself.  It is through my 14 years of living and traveling around the world that I have learned more about who I am and what my purpose is.  And I have also discovered certain natural laws and truths about life.

Here are 54 lessons I have gradually learned throughout my travels that have helped me to grow into, what I think, is a person who lives an empowered life.

Not all those who wander are lost.
– J. R. R. Tolkien

  1. People all over the world have the same basic wants and needs.  It doesn’t matter where we come from, what we look like, how we talk, or what we believe.  Deep down the essence of who we are as human beings is the same.  This is all that matters.  The outside differences are there to learn from and celebrate without fear.
  2. There is absolute joy and wonder to be had in the simplest of moments.  Swinging in a hammock on the beach while watching the sunset over the horizon, for example.
  3. The more we own, the more enslaved we become.
  4. We don’t need stuff to be happy or to fulfill us; we just need memorable moments and loving relationships.  (Read The Joy of Less.)
  5. Negotiation, business transactions and even personal relationships should always be conducted with the mutual belief in it being a win-win situation.  Everyone needs to walk away with a smile.
  6. The more you help others, the more you get in return.
  7. A smile, a wave and a friendly attitude can break down any barrier and create friendships where language cannot be understood.  Kindness is a universal.
  8. You are powerful beyond measure.  You never know what you are capable of until you push your barriers of comfort, even if it’s just a little bit each day.
  9. Fear can be a guiding friend if you learn how to swallow it, and listen to it only when it serves its true purpose of warning you when you are in danger.
  10. Mother Nature knows everything.  Turn to her more to help ease your medical discomforts and your mental anguishes.
  11. When things frighten you, the best way to do what needs to be done is “1… 2… 3… jump!”  Sometimes you have to dive in before you talk yourself out of it.
  12. The purpose of life is to live in joy.
  13. Life is constantly changing.  You cannot set up rigid rules and expectations.  If you do, you will only be disappointed.
  14. Don’t over plan.  Jump in the boat and let the river take you for an amazing ride.  You will get to the ocean eventually and it be way more fun.
  15. Don’t be afraid to speak to strangers, the majority of them are out to help you, not hurt you.  (Read How to Talk to Anyone.)
  16. People are generally good.
  17. Never let society, or other people determine how you should live your life.  Only you know what is best for you
  18. Question everything until you understand it.  Never just believe or accept because that is the way it’s always been done.  Work it out for yourself.
  19. You will never stop learning until you stop living.
  20. God wants you to have a happy life and does not want you to suffer.  But your happiness is up to you.
  21. God lives in everything.  You don’t need to go to a church or a temple, or pray five times a day to find her.  You just need to know yourself and pay attention to what’s happening around you.
  22. Miracles surround you every day.  Open your eyes to see them and rejoice in them.
  23. There are no problems, only challenges and solutions.
  24. Everything happens for a reason and it all works out in the end.
  25. Climbing a mountain is really about the journey.  You’ll remember this more than the fleeting view at the end, which sometimes can’t even be seen due to the low lying clouds.
  26. Silence and stillness is something to embrace and treasure.  Relax into it and let go of the need to fill it with empty words or actions.  Allow it to be your friend.
  27. Believe in what you celebrate and celebrate what you believe in.
  28. Lie on a remote beach under the night sky, look at the curvature of the earth and gaze with wonder at the stars.  Spend time appreciating and understanding just how small you really are.  This will help you to know that you are not the center of the Universe, yet still a very important, miraculous part of it.  There is power in understanding how small you really are.
  29. We are all interdependent of each other.  Co-operate by finding your niche rather than competing.  Be yourself.  All of us need you to be that way.
  30. You cannot have effective communication without listening.  You have two ears and only one mouth for a reason.
  31. Pay attention to non-verbal forms of communication.  You will learn far more about what someone is trying to say when you listen to their body language in addition their words.  (Read What Every BODY is Saying.)
  32. Hang around people who celebrate you, and avoid those who merely tolerate you.  Life is too short not to.
  33. The Earth is a living organism that is so much more powerful than us.  Look after her.  She will remove us if we threaten her existence.
  34. Trust in your gut.  It’s often quite wise.
  35. Dream big.  Never allow your logical mind to talk you out of pursuing your dreams.  Your dreams are made for you.  Trying is the only way to know if they are possible to achieve.
  36. Your past does not matter and you are not who you were in the past.
  37. Your knowledge and experiences in life are not for you alone.  They are of no use to you or anyone when they are trapped inside you.  Break free from the confines of doubt and insecurity and just let loose what it is you were born to do.  When you live from this position of share, share, share, you will be amazed by the rewards that come back to be shared with you.
  38. ‘This too shall pass’ is universally applicable to all situations in your life, both good and bad.  All the hardships and all the great moments in your life will eventually pass.  Accept this, learn the lessons, have total gratitude for them and then let them go when it is time for them to go.
  39. Worrying is a futile exercise.
  40. If you don’t like something, you almost always have the power to change it.
  41. You are the controller of your own life.  Take responsibility for your words, actions and choices.  And then adjust them to enable you to move in the direction you wish to go.
  42. There is power in pain – building strength and learning
  43. Change is good.  Change is life’s natural state at any given moment.
  44. The only place where life exists is NOW.  Go live it.  Don’t wait for tomorrow or until everything is perfect.  It never will be.
  45. Enthusiasm, joy, awe and gratitude are our most powerful emotions.
  46. When someone tells you that you can’t do something, what they usually mean is: “I can’t because I’m not willing to take a risk or put in the necessary effort.”
  47. Excuses are limitations to our growth and experiences.
  48. You don’t have to be rich to travel the world.
  49. Most of the time the best experiences in life are free, or extremely low in cost.
  50. There is nothing in the world that will get your heart racing more than a silverback charging at you.  And while I wouldn’t recommend that experience specifically, make sure you live your life so your heart races on a regular basis.  It means you’re pushing beyond your own limits.
  51. Make your life a story to tell.  Even most of the bad stuff becomes good when you think of the story it gives you to tell someday.
  52. Life is not about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself.
  53. Life is all about the memories.  Go create them.
  54. Never travel without an open mind.  Never live without an open mind, it is the greatest gift for growth you can ever give to yourself.

Caz Makepeace has been living and traveling around the world since 1997.  She is co-founder of the popular “y Travel Blog” where she shares tips, stories and inspirations on world travel.  She also shares mindset and success tips for putting the mojo back into your life at her blog “Mojito Mother.”

Photo by: HaoJan Chang


  1. says

    Some of my best lessons were learned by traveling to other countries and actually wanting to be apart of their culture.

    I notice some travelers try and force their own culture upon those where they’re visiting, and it can be sad to see.

    Loved the post… and that’s so cool you’re able to travel so much :)

    Life is awesome!

  2. Leah says

    “People all over the world have the same basic wants and needs” – I’ve been traveling around Southeast Asia for the past 5 months and I found that everyone, regardless of how much money they have, wants the latest iPhone :)

  3. says

    Travel is a great educator because it takes you out of your comfort zone and ‘expected’ behaviours and allows you to grow as a person.

    It is a voyage of discovery of yourself as much as of the world.

    The most important lesson I’ve learned is that when it all seems hopeless (stuck in the middle of Moscow trying to find an address) – don’t panic, take a deep breath and you will find a way.

  4. says

    This is so incredibly inspiring! I am about to embark on my first “official” trip overseas – alone – and these inspirational messages have really hit the mark. I think I am going to print them out and add them to my diary. They’d make great reminders, every single day, of just how amazing life really is! Thanks for sharing this post here. I’m becoming a huge fan of your website.

  5. Shannon says

    I love #52! I am going to have it tattooed on my arm as a daily reminder- a much needed one that will help me get through the day.
    Thank you!

  6. says

    Thanks for all your encouraging comments everyone. I’m so happy that I was able to inspire you and that my travels were able to teach me so much that I can share.
    Go live your dreams!!

  7. says

    I love all of these. Some of these I learned myself, and others I’ve only read books. I can’t wait until these life lessons are learned through my own experience.

    Number 26 in particular is important to me right now. I found that silence is overwhelmingly beautiful, and is not to be feared or covered up.

    Great article, thanks!

  8. says

    Great lessons here!

    I love #20 — straight up my alley! I agree that God does want us to be happy, we were even meant for it! But just as any gift can be offered and left untouched, so with happiness. As you say, it’s up to us. Our attitudes, out passion, our character, our choices are all in our own hands.

    #4 is something my wife and I realized early on. We knew at that time that we couldn’t afford to provide our daughter with all the latest fashions and toys AND provide her with those memorable moments. So we sent her around the world, traveling most summers during her high school years as a student ambassador.

    Such life changing opportunities were expensive, but well worth it. We can either adorn life with gadgets or live life by going out and experiencing it.

    Awesome post!

  9. says

    48. You don’t have to be rich to travel the world.

    I’d love if you can elaborate on that. There are so many places I want to visit but I have ALWAYS been told that it is very expensive and not that easy.

  10. says

    Wholeheartedly agree with all of these truths about the lessons that travel teaches us–which is not the same thing as having learned them all! Maybe that’s why we’re still on the road, out here trying to learn.

  11. says

    Wow, what an amazing post! All very true. I’ve been on the road more or less since 2007 and can relate to what you’ve mentioned. It’s hard for me heading back to the ‘West’ where people seemingly are very much lacking in some of the key points you mentioned… The world is an amazing place, and so are it’s people! :)

  12. Barefoot says

    #46… I had an ex tell me that he didn’t believe I could learn his language. Your explanation makes perfect sense. I can too learn the language if I want to :)

    PS: I love your blog!

  13. says

    I’ve left some of points here unread with a reason that I want to digest a few of them and I’ll come the next day to motivate myself in positive way because these are inspirational points which give positiveness to move ahead in life one step at a time… Really Inspirational!

  14. says

    What a fantastic list – I love so many of these points. Especially that stillness and silence is something to treasure – some of my best travel moments have just been trying to fathom my surroundings in silence. Poignant moments that really hit home. Thanks for sharing!

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