7 Lessons Learned From Traveling Abroad

Lessons Learned From Traveling 2 Months Abroad

Traveling has taught me more than I can honestly count. It has been the most amazing time of my life and something I would recommend anyone to do! After my first extended trip abroad, I wrote down some of the main lessons I learned from traveling.

5 years later of becoming a full-time travel blogger, I can attest that these lessons still hold true.

I hope these lessons can help you during your travels, especially if you’re thinking of taking the leap!

You will definitely see Iceland horses with 4 days
Icelandic Horses can be found everywhere throughout Iceland

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links where I may receive a small commission at NO additional cost to you. 

My Travel Abroad Backstory

In April 2018, my husband(Alex) and I started the journey of a lifetime through Europe and Asia. It all started with a plan to visit Iceland back in November 2017. As the new year came upon us, I started to reflect and re-evaluate my life.

I quickly came to realize, I didn’t hate my job, but after 3 years it wasn’t where I wanted to be. Alex and I had both wanted to travel and were at a crossroads in our lives.

We had lots of savings to go on and Alex knew he could have a job when we got home. So while scary, it was we were not winging it per se.

Finally, we decided let’s live our dreams while we are still brave enough to leap. We were going to Iceland in 4 months and decided it was the perfect time to leap and continue through Europe and Asia.

When I reflect back, it was the 2 most amazing months of my life. Let me clarify that it was not all rainbows and sunshine like social media might perceive it to be.

There were tears, fights, and even a trip to the hospital, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. We learned, grew, and experienced more than we could ever have imagined.

Now, do you need to quit your job like me, absolutely not! My husband went back to work, so our travel schedule is often based on his work schedule.

So without further Ado, here are the travel lessons I learned.

Visit the Temple of Zeus with 4 days in Athens
Temple of Zeus in Athens

1. Nothing is Perfect

Let’s be real, nothing is perfect. We packed too much, spent over our budget, got ripped off, robbed, and found accommodations not up to par. Honestly, I could probably go on and on with that list, but what’s the point?

It’s going to happen. Without making any mistakes how would we ever learn anything new? We learned it’s just better to go with the flow and be grateful for all the things that went right and how fortunate we were to be in that place at that time.

The Grand Palace in Bangkok is a top temple in Thailand
The Grand Palace is one of the top temples you must see in Bangkok

2. Packing the Perfect Wardrobe is Over-Rated

You’re super excited with all the new clothes you brought for your trip to find out your suitcase is heavy as hell, and you wore 1/3 of it.

We left clothes behind and wished we had left with two backpacks instead. I’m all for packing a nice little first aid kit, but I learned quickly that it didn’t matter if I wore the same outfit or if I could blow dry my hair.

Repeat those outfits- sorry fashion police, because I’m rockin the same dress in Bali, Paris, and Malaysia! Yes, we all want those super cute instapics, but if you are planning for long-term travel, or want to travel all around Europe, light is the way to go.

Salt flats in Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico
Pink Salt flats in Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico
The colosseum is a top photo worthy place in Rome

3. New Level of Gratefulness

Being grateful was one of my favorite lessons I learned from traveling. Sometimes it’s not until you put yourself in someone else shoes that you realize how grateful you are for the things you have.

One thing we became super grateful for was having the ability to drink clean water and breathe clean air. With lots of time through Asia, it really opened our eyes to how fortunate we are back in the USA and how much people take for granted.

Nusa Island guide Kelingking Beach
Nusa Islands Guide -Kelingking Beach

Air Quality

We arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand at the end of the burning season. For those who don’t know, the burning season is when all the farmers burn their crop fields to clear the land for new crops.

Burning the fields makes the air extremely toxic to breathe in and can make people very sick.  Although I grew out of my asthma when I was younger, I still had difficulty breathing some nights.

We also found that in many places, the only way for locals to get rid of garbage was to burn it, which is not only bad for the environment but bad for breathing.

volunteering with elephants in Chiang Mai Thailand
volunteering with elephants in Chiang Mai Thailand


We brought reusable water bottles for our trip, with the idea of reducing waste. However, we did not get to use them because the filter was inadequate. Unfortunately, this led us and hundreds of other tourists to buy plastic water bottles.

Because the water is not safe to drink, it leads to high use of plastic water bottles which results in more pollution. We learned that there are water purifier systems that you can bring which we will definitely be utilizing in the future, but this seriously opened our eyes.

Once we got back home, I felt so grateful for being able to brush my teeth from the sink water or clean my veggies in the sink.

It also made me feel sad to know I get to shower in clean water that is drinkable and all going to waste while people are unable to drink water from their sink. I now try to cut my water time and eliminate baths.

I will now always be grateful for these two basic needs. Out of all the lessons learned from traveling, this one impacted me the most.

Pile of garbage in Nusa Islands in Bali
Trash in Bali to be burned

4. Research is Important

On our trip, we visited 7 different countries. With each different country comes different cultures, traditions, and values. Any time we are visitors in someone’s home, we want to give the utmost respect to their culture and beliefs.

This is where the research came in to make sure we were not disrespecting their way of life. For example, in Thailand, it’s important to know that they are mainly a Buddhist country.

With that being said, you should not touch people’s heads, step over people and cover shoulders and knees at religious sites to name a few.

It is also important to know that if this is your first time in Europe, you will need to apply for an entry visa to visit the to enter the Schengen Zone which consists of 27 countries. The system is called the ETIAS.

Research also helped us with packing, knowing the best times to visit, how to plan our itinerary, and immunizations needed. Even though we hadn’t planned out every country we were visiting, we knew we would be in Asia.

That was a good starting point for us to look up countries we were possibly interested in! We were able to see what immunizations were required and the different visa processes!

What shoes to pack for Thailand
In Bangkok, Thailand

5. Importance of Travel Health Insurance

Another one of the great lessons learned from traveling was health insurance. Thankfully nothing life-threatening happened on our trip, but I did seek medical help twice.

It started in Krabi, Thailand at a walk-in clinic. I hadn’t been feeling well in several days. I was really nauseous, and my stomach was bothering me, so we finally decided to go to the walk-in.

They were able to test my blood and give me proper antibiotics to help with a bacterial infection from food.

The next day we flew to Malaysia. I finished the antibiotics, but I still didn’t feel well. I went to the emergency room in Kuala Lumpur.

Again, they were able to give me the medical attention I needed. Once I got home, I was able to submit those receipts and get the money back from each visit. You never know what can happen while your away.

I was lucky it was nothing too serious, but if it was, I felt safe having the insurance. Our insurance also covered lost luggage, delayed flights medivac in emergencies, and more.

It’s one of those things you really don’t want to cheap out on.

malaysia hospital
Trip to the Hospital in Malaysia

6. People are Kind

Being in different countries and not knowing the language was something I was a little worried about. As we traveled from country to country, we learned that even with a language barrier, people were more than happy to try and help us!

People say the world is a scary place, but time and time again, we met such amazing and generous people. I’m not saying not to be cautious because there are always a few bad eggs.

In general, we felt welcomed everywhere we went and could easily call each place home.

One of the best things to do in Seminyak is going to a beach bar
Seminyak, Bali

7. Don’t Build High Expectations

When we planned our trip, the main hub was going to be in Chiang Mai, Thailand. So naturally, we built huge expectations around it. Because of this, we didn’t explore Chiang Mai the way we wanted to.

Quite frankly we didn’t explore much of Chiang Mai at all and left the area sooner than expected. When we look back, Thailand is one of those places we felt we didn’t explore the way we wanted to.

With each country after, we went in with an open mind and no hard expectations. I find that Instagram was also an expectation killer at some points. We saw all these amazing places we could not wait to visit on Instagram.

Once we got there, we realized the image had been heavily edited! In times like this, we just reminded ourselves how grateful we were to be there even if it didn’t hold all the glory we expected.

Chiang Mai Temple in Thailand that is bluish grey with metallic details. Women in front facing temple with purple shall covering shoulders, blue long skirt and long blonde hair.
In Chiang Mai, Thailand

Wrap up of Lessons Learned from Traveling

I hope you will be able to find helpful information from the 7 lessons learned from traveling. I think traveling has really opened my mind and helped me grow as a person. It also made me feel so fulfilled in making some of my dreams come true.

For more travel inspiration, go through my destinations page!

Found these Lessons Learned from Traveling helpful, I’d appreciate it if you share it below!

Photo of author

Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good. Learn more here: https://findloveandtravel.com/samantha-oppenheimer/

2 thoughts on “7 Lessons Learned From Traveling Abroad”

  1. So great to read how travel made you so grateful for so many things 🙂 I never do much research into cultures to be honest, as I travel mainly inside Europe, but it’s def something to keep in mind. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Thank you so much for the kind comments! I am so glad you enjoyed my post and it makes more sense for you since you do live in Europe =)


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