What Travel has Taught Us

What Travel has Taught Us

Being disconnected from the reality we knew a year ago, away from family and friends and living out of a bag has taught us a lot about life and ourselves.  Here are few lessons we thought were worth sharing.




LOCAVORista wrote a list, so I’ll follow suit.  Here are the things I learned over the last year.

  1. I love Asia. The culture, food and history make this the world’s best continent, 2/3 of all humans have it right.
  2. Public works, especially infrastructure, is essential to building a society.  You have to pay taxes, but clean water, passable roads and breathable air are worth so much more.
  3. Hot is worse than cold.  Growing up in Minnesota I always thought the tropics were a great idea, but you can always put on another layer when it’s cold, there are only so many layers you can take off.
  4. Stability is nice.  We knew it was something we gave up to do this, but it’s so much easier knowing what and where you’ll be next week than not.
  5. My wife is driven by emotions.  When you have 15 minutes to get to a train station this is not a beneficial quality.
  6. The world is pretty safe; almost everywhere is safer than the USA when it comes to physical violence.
  7. There is no way to explain where we’ve been, what we’ve done and where we’re going.  I don’t have the words or skills to be able to really do it justice.
  8. Downtime is life changing.  Having time with nothing to do and nothing needed to be done gives one a lot of time to ponder themselves and their future in a way that just isn’t possible while in “real life” with work, social and household demands.




Twelve countries, twelve months and many more than 12,000 miles later I look back on a few lessons I learned from a year on the road.

  1. There are thousands of ways to say thank you and the more of them you know the more grateful you become.  This trip has opened my eyes to how incredibly blessed I am and how lucky I am to have this experience.
  2. Gore-tex is the most amazing fabric ever invented; proven by my durability tests in the muddy rice terraces of Sapa, Vietnam and the cold winds at Mt. Everest base camp in Tibet.
  3. If life gives you lemons (or limes) make lemonade, you’ll be surprised at how refreshingly delicious it is.
  4. China probably won’t take over the world, but if they do it wouldn’t be as bad as I thought
  5. The friendliest people in the world live in Myanmar
  6. There are more colors in the rainbow then I could have ever imagined and you’ll find them all in a Philippine sunset
  7. The world is not as dangerous as it seems from the five o’clock news, thank goodness… In fact even when walking alone at night as a blonde woman in Asia I feel safter than I would in most U.S. cities.
  8. You would be amazed by how much you can learn from someone even if you don’t share a common language
  9. Carrying everything, all your valuables on your back puts life in perspective, so does all that travel time with nothing to do but think.
  10. Pig’s foot is one of the most vile dishes ever created
  11. Sometimes you just have to laugh, because it’s funny…really, really funny.
  12. You can’t claim to know someone until you have spent an entire year together non-stop, the little things you become aware of are priceless.
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» Donna :
Dec 7, 2011

Obviously I can’t relate to all you’ve experienced or what you’ve commented on. But I can relate to how travel can change your life … how meeting people from other cultures changes your perspective … seeing things from another culture’s point of view … learning a few words in another language to prove you’re not just another “ugly American.” And I agree, Matt, hot is worse than cold. I’ve been saying that for decades, and of course, none of my southern friends believe me … but they all live in air conditioning all year long too! And Erica, I can hardly wait until you’re back here for Christmas … I have the perfect gift for you!!! :-)

Am busy cleaning the house for my party … will miss your smiling faces on Sunday, but know you’ll be doing something fun and exciting somewhere in the world! Love ya both!


LOCAVORista Reply:

Donna, you are so right about the life changing effects of travel and once you get bitten by that travel bug it’s so hard to stay in one place for too long. I hope you have a great party on Sunday we’ll be hiking in Kota Kinabalu National Park in Malaysian Borneo, but we’ll be thinking of you and your delicious gluhwein!

» Kate C :
Dec 7, 2011

I love this. Each of you is spot on. Love love love. Hope to see you both at another point in your journey (I’m sneak-ily planning, even with our busy year coming up) so we can catch up and do more nothing!

LOCAVORista Reply:

Kate, thanks for the positive reinforcement, like I said this is just the short list. Travel has taught us so much as I’m sure it has for you. Travel is life changing! Hope we cross paths again on the road, maybe you should plan a return trip to South America?

» Mom A :
Dec 9, 2011

Guess we won’t need to bring the I pad to Donn!s for a Skype call then. The National Park will be awesome. I’ll close me eyes and see if I can see it real time!

We at Arrowood where we spent our honeymoon 39 1/2 years ago. Spent our leisurely dinner talking about that many years of travel. Asia is at the top of our list, then some of those especially good family vacations.

Here at Arrowwood the word for windchill factor is real feel. It was. -1 at dinner time, real feel. But Goretex does the trick and out to dinner we went! We would send you some of that cold in a bottle for you to use when you need it, but it would be like mailing you cheese!

Hope the. Bug is gone!

LOCAVORista Reply:

Mom, gore tex is amazing! I’m sure that you have learned several other more profound things from travel, but it’s the small things too…fun to hear that Asia is still at the top of your travel list after all the places you have been. Australia and New Zealand may make the top three too, time will tell!

» The World of Deej :
Dec 11, 2011

Loved what both of you said in #4. I am a bit of a homebody, and after extensive periods of travel, I begin to crave some stability. And I agree on China…they won’t take us over, they just want to win more gold medals and make more money. I’m OK with that:)

LOCAVORista Reply:

Deej, we have been slowing down the last few months in order to spend longer periods of time in each place, which provides a bit more stability. I had to throw the China comment in there, because it seems that everyone is convinced that they are taking over the world and they seem genuinely concerned. After visiting China really doesn’t scare me, but then again it never really did… Happy travels!

» BKA :
Dec 12, 2011

This is one of your better exposes……obviously, I know LOCAVORista a bit better, I have learned so much I did not know about THINKchua…..#7 in Matt’s comments is spot on, not your fault, because your writing is spectacular, but even being a visual dreamer I have great difficultly grasping what your up to…..I have concluded that many days I do not envy the efforts you are making in your adventure and welcome the stability comforts of home……travel is good, when requireing less effort, for me…….I do recognize the obvious trade offs your efforts have brought you…..I extend my cudos and admiration daily…..be safe……love dad

LOCAVORista Reply:

Dad, I wish we could explain what we are doing, what we see, where we stay, what it’s like day to day, but I just don’t think it’s possible…we’ll keep trying and keep taking in the many lessons of long term travel.

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About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.


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