What I Wish I Knew Before Traveling The World

Visiting 21 countries wasn’t easy. Here’s what I learned.

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

How often have you dreamt of traveling the world? If you’re anything like my former-self, your response will be something like, “all the time.”

Right? We spend our days scrolling through Instagram, looking at pretty pictures of Thai beaches, and wishing we could head to the airport to catch a flight to anywhere but our current location.

We’ve all seen the luxurious lifestyle painted in Hollywood movies of private jets, giant yachts, and trips to the most exotic places on the planet. But having grown up in rural England, I always used to think that traveling the world was something that only wealthy people within society could afford.

I was wrong.

Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to 21 countries, four continents, and live a life that I once considered impossible.

How did I do it? I realized that the only thing separating people who dream of traveling the world, and those that do is first having the confidence to leap into the unknown. Bill Phillips said it best:

“The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.”

I’ve learned that if you want to travel the world, it’s not going to happen by scrolling through Instagram, wishing that things could be different. Instead, a better solution is planning where you want to visit, how much it’s going to cost, and figuring what’s necessary to make it a reality.

Below are a collection of lessons from traveling the world that I wish I knew earlier. Each one enabled me to visit countless destinations, make hundreds of friends around the world, and live a life that I once considered impossible. I’m hoping they do the same for you, too.

Everyone Doesn’t Speak English.

There are going to be occasions where you’re unable to speak the local language while visiting a foreign country. For example, I found it challenging to communicate with people in the mall while traveling around Turkey.

If you live in a location where everyone speaks the same language, a common misconception is assuming that “everyone in a destination will speak English because of tourism.”

Of course, the major hotel chains will likely have someone who speaks English while visiting a foreign city. But it’s important to remember that you’re visiting their country, so it’s a good idea not to make assumptions that everyone speaks your language.

I’ve discovered that downloading Google Translate (for offline use) onto your phone can be a great way to overcome any language barrier. So if you ever find yourself unable to communicate with the locals, you can speak into your phone, and it’ll automatically translate the conversation.

Travel Can Be Extremely Cheap.

One of the biggest obstacles that prevent people from traveling is the lack of funds to afford flights, accommodation, and other aspects of travel, which are typically expensive.

During 2018, I enjoyed an incredible trip around 13 states in the USA. Traveling from New York to Miami, and from New Orleans to California, most people would quite rightly assume that the cost of such a journey would be thousands of dollars.

The entire cost of transportation cost me just under $300 to travel around the United States. By using Greyhound & Megabus to move between each city, the average price of each journey was approximately $40 (including snacks). And by staying in private rooms on Airbnb, I was able to lower my cost of accommodation to roughly $30 per night.

Sure, traveling on a bus for 5 hours between Charlotte & Atlanta isn’t living in luxury. However, it certainly opens opportunities to make seeing the country and the world, a lot more affordable.

It’s Normal For Things To Go Wrong.

Even if you plan your trip for weeks, and schedule every moment of your time in another country, some things will inevitably go wrong.

Being stuck in traffic on route to the airport, unexpected weather conditions, and getting injured while on vacation are just a few of many unexpected occurrences that could happen while traveling the world.

As an example, my luggage got lost in Berlin during a recent trip around Europe. Although airport staff was eventually able to track it down, I was stuck waiting in the terminal for six hours, and consequentially missed out on valuable time exploring the city.

Since that day, I’ve always remembered to pack a spare change of clothes in my carry-on bag (in case my luggage gets permanently lost). In the words of Denis Waitley: “Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.”

Everyone wants to travel the world, visit new destinations, and create memories that will last a lifetime. But that can only happen when you realize that things will go wrong and that there will never be a perfect time to begin ticking off your bucket list.

Nobody wants to hear about the time you “almost traveled the world.” Instead, they want to know about the time you explored the Great Barrier Reef, saw the northern lights, or whatever else you want to do while visiting beautiful destinations across the planet.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning, figuring out where you want to go, and how much it’s going to cost. Because even if you’re unable to get time off work, or traveling is too expensive with your current financial situation, planning is a great way to begin aligning your priorities and figuring out what needs to be done to make it happen.

One day, I told myself that I was ready for my life to change, and I would do anything necessary to make my dream of traveling the world a reality.

You can visit countless destinations around the globe, meet incredible new people, and create a life you once thought to be impossible.

Don’t overthink the process. Don’t worry about things going wrong. Just focus on where you want to go, what you want to do, and how you’re going to get there.

The rest will figure itself out.

I write for people who want to live a happier life in the modern world. Let’s chat: Mattlillywhitemedium@gmail.com

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