After my last trip, I realized, that I’ve visited over 20 countries! Wow, I surprised myself when I realized that.
With this post, I want to share my experiences with you. What did I learn by seeing so many different places and cultures?
Even if you don’t speak the local language you will be able to get around.
When I went to China in 2013 for an internship, I knew that I won’t be able to communicate with most people or read anything. I tried to learn Chinese for a few months, but it was too hard and I didn’t have enough time to study. The only thing I could finally say in Chinese was “Hello, nice to meet you!”. Besides that, I was aware that I would not be able to read any street signs, any menus or anything at all that had Chinese characters on it.
So what did I do? I went there anyway. For 3 months. Alone…. And I survived.
I didn’t only survive, I also got to do everything I wanted and I had a really great time. Even if I had to describe my destination to the taxi driver with drawings, maps or gestures – in the end, it always worked out. Sometimes I did not know what food I ordered, but I always got something to eat 🙂
China was the first country that taught me to survive even if I could not communicate verbally.
Visiting a foreign country is not as dangerous as you think.
Some people don’t want to visit foreign countries because they think it is dangerous, they are afraid of going on an airplane, or getting robbed.
Last year I traveled to South Africa, which is probably the most dangerous country I have visited. People get shot on the street and muggings are common. Before I went there, I was aware of these things. I knew that I shouldn’t carry around too much cash or wear luxury items. I knew that I shouldn’t go out at night alone. By respecting these few rules, nothing bad happened to me.
You have to do some research about a country before you go there and be aware of the risks. If you do that and if you just use common sense and your best judgment for each situation, things will likely turn out fine and you will have a great time.
If you have heard horror stories about a country from other people – don’t trust them! My experience is, that the people that are the most afraid, have the poorest knowledge about the place. Just do your research and make your own decision.
Kind people are everywhere as long as you are kind, too.
In each country, I’ve been to I’ve met at least one stranger (mostly more) that was kind to me or helped me in a difficult situation. In Vietnam, I rented a scooter with some people I met at the hostel. On the way back our scooter ran out of fuel in the middle of nowhere. There were only about 5 houses around us and in one of them there lived a kind person that came to help us. Of course, the guy didn’t speak English, but he could see our problem. He filled up our scooter with fuel and brought us to the next workshop, just like that. He didn’t even want to take some money for the fuel.
Yes, I could tell you at least another 20 stories about friendly strangers.
You don’t need all the stuff you left at home.
In 2015 I went on my first backpacking trip to Southeast Asia. Everything I needed had to fit in one backpack. I had been thinking for weeks about what items I really needed. In the end, I managed to fit everything into my backpack. After my trip, I even realized that I carried around lots of useless stuff. I lived 2 months with only the few things I could and it was more than enough. All the clothes and books and stuff I left at home I didn’t miss. And I have never been so happy before as on this trip and my life was so much easier. For example, it took me less time to get dressed, because I didn’t have to choose between 30 different shirts and pants.
This trip definitely taught me that we do not need very much to live and to be happy.
There are like-minded people in every place.
Are you afraid of traveling alone? I don’t think there is anything to be afraid of. If you pick the right places, you will actually find more like-minded people than you would in your hometown!
Don’t you believe me? Well, I met my husband in Thailand. We both stayed at the same hostel and booked the same hiking trip. We were both backpackers traveling alone.
Germany is a great country to live in.
No matter which country I visited and no matter how great the time I had was, there was always at least one reason why I finally wanted to go back to Germany. I love traveling and being in foreign countries, otherwise, this blog would not exist.
Why am I happy to live in Germany? Well, there is more than one reason. One is the social security you get as a German. For example, everyone in Germany has to have health insurance and I think that is a really good thing. Besides that, the government is mostly trustworthy and not corrupt.
I remember my last day in Shanghai. A taxi driver tried to screw me over when I wanted to go to the airport. I knew it and started discussing with him. But I was so tired of bargaining and discussing prices, that I still ended up paying too much. And although I had a great time in China, I was happy to go back to Germany where prices of taxis and other things are non-negotiable.
Traveling is the best time to learn and develop.
One thing you learn about is yourself, especially if you are traveling on your own. You are away from your familiar surrounding and people that normally influence you, so you can finally see who you really are without them. You will see your strengths and weaknesses, things that make you happy and things that scare you. You may even meet your limits – and that is great. There is no better way to figure out who you are and what you really want, than by traveling.
You won’t only learn about yourself and develop your personality. You will also learn a lot about the country you’re visiting and the people that live there. You will get to know a lot about foreign cultures and their histories.
Of course, this is only true if you are willing to learn and if you’re not just sitting in the hotel and talking to your partner all the time. You will learn the most if you’re traveling alone and talking to other travelers as well as locals. Besides that, you will learn more about the history by visiting museums and memorials. And I am saying that even though I really hated history when I was in high school. But when I am in a country I want to understand it better and then I am actually interested in learning more about it.
Have you had some of the same experiences while traveling or was yours completely different?
I’d love to read about in the comments 🙂