100 Things I Learned & Experienced from 1 Year of Travel: A Letter to Myself

100 Things I Learned & Experienced from 1 Year of Travel

After coming home from traveling for 14 months I’ve finally had the time to reflect on the crazy journey I just had. Not only what I learned about the world and different cultures, but also what I learned about myself. In this reflecting period, I thought it would be fun to write down 100 things I’ve learned and experienced this last year in the perspective of my future self. Or in other words, what I would have told myself 1 year and 2 months ago.

I’ve learned and experienced wayyyyy more than just these 100 things, but this is a good memory and summary of what one year traveling solo can teach you. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments…

Also for those of you new here and don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, check out my post about me announcing that I quit my job to travel written right after I quit my job in San Francisco.

So, here it goes…

1. Upon leaving your job, you’ll start to doubt your decision to leave the life you built, the career you’ve established in San Francisco and the friends you’ve made, but you’ll leave anyway and it will be one of the smartest things you’ve ever done.

2. You’ll leave the USA pretty confident in yourself, but you’ll come back with so much more confidence that you’ll sometimes surprise yourself.

3. You’ll find a new love in being alone and having “me time”. You’ll realize that when traveling solo you don’t really actually travel solo. You’re constantly surrounded by people and actually need to seek time alone to recharge.

4. A large and hearty American brunch will be on your mind at ALL times and haunt your dreams.

5. You’ll decide that one year isn’t enough, and continue your trip for a few more months cause WHY NOT?!

6. You’ll learn that traveling for a long period of time makes you tired…like all the time tired.

7. You’ll quickly learn that public toilets around the world are seriously NASTY like N.A.S.T.Y (except in Japan of course).

8. You’ll make lifelong friends this year and feel so grateful for the memories you have together.

9. You’ll meet a lot of crazy WACKO other travelers. People who tell you they are “citizens of the world” or ones that play the guitar in your hostel room while everyone else is in there sleeping…*cue eye roll*.

10. You’ll miss flights, buses, trains, shared cars, and you’ll FTFO (freak the f*** out), but, everything will work out in the end and you’ll “most likely” make your destination.

11. You’ll leave with a plan on what countries you want to see and things you’d like to experience, but you’ll basically just realize that as you cross off your bucket list you just keep adding to it.

12. You will listen to more podcasts, read more books and watch more shows than you ever have in your life.

13. You’ll think it’s weird that people back home or people you meet on the road call you “BRAVE” or “COURAGEOUS” for traveling solo, but then again, you’ll realize that maybe you are…

14. You will realize that the USA has its fair share of problems, but has it pretty good compared to a lot of places in this world.

15. You’ll book a hostel room and be the only female in a dorm with 13 other men.

16. You’ll realize that men in most hostels you’ve met are actually really friendly and protective of you. They’re usually not creepy or scary.

17. You’ll realize, somewhere in there that you don’t want to go back to corporate life and realize you don’t want to move back to the fast-paced life of San Francisco even though it sort of breaks your heart to think that.

18. You’ll go inside your first mosque, wear a hijab, and try on a chador in the Middle East.

19. You’ll go to Iran, a country that your own country tells you not to go and YOU’LL love it there. YOU REBEL YOU!

20. You’ll feel guilty because you didn’t keep in touch enough with people at home.

21. You’ll feel guilty that you didn’t blog enough.

22. You’ll go to coding camp in Bali, learn to code, and literally make a website yourself.

23. You’ll hike in the Alps and visit the German Christmas markets.

24. You’ll meet people from all over the world. From Iran to Iraq to Chad and Chile to El Salvador to literally every European country and even a couple from Greenland with only 56k ppl in the whole country.

25. You will roughly take 35 flights this year and about a million photos.

26. You’ll learn to scuba dive and then go back to the same place you learned 9 months later and get your advanced diving cert cause you love it so much.

27. Then you’ll become a mermaid scuba diver (HAHA) in the Philippines which will make you want to go back to the Philippines sooo bad.

28. You’ll meet many HOT Aussies in Bali and fall in lust once or twice.

29. Before you leave on this journey you’ll be scared to be alone and eat meals alone and then you’ll quickly realize that you’ll crave being alone because you’re constantly with people.

30. You’ll HAVE a wild time at Yacht Week in Spain with new friends on a boat for a week.

31. You think you will have more time to just “relax and catch up on things”, but you’ll quickly realize that’s not how this works because you’re doing a thing called “traveling.” 😉

32. 3 times you will get so stomach-sick that you have some scarring experiences. ugh.

33. You’ll learn how to ride a scooter in Thailand and take it on some epic adventures in Thailand and Laos.

34. You’ll find out that many countries don’t use tampon applicators like we do in the USA. (TMI? well it’s the truth peeps)

35. You’ll eat a scorpion, eat camel meat, chicken gizzard, and try rat for the 2nd time.

36. You’ll go to a Silent Retreat in Bali and you won’t speak for 3 days, but it will be one of the coolest things you’ve ever done.

37. Your mind will open. You will go to 2 countries that hate each other. You’ll see both sides and realize neither side is right or wrong.

38. The longer you stay in one place, the more you’ll enjoy it.

39. You won’t like it everywhere you go. You’ll have weird things happen and hate some places, but that’s okay.

40. You’ll learn to chill out when you’re in a new place and take your time seeing the sites. You’ll enjoy it way more this way.

41. You’ll realize the people you meet will make the place for you. The memories you have of a place always revolve around who was with you or what song was playing on repeat.

42. You will get burnt out from traveling too fast and staying in hostels all the time.

43. You’ll learn how to meditate and be mindful.

44. You’ll be more in tune with what your body needs and what foods you crave.

45. You won’t get sick very much… YASSS.

46. But the days you do get sick are the days you get really homesick.

47. The more you travel, the more you’re going to look for nicer places to stay and nicer ways to get places. The budget backpacker in you will die down as time goes by.

48. You’ll realize doing what you are doing is not for everyone. It’s sometimes hard, but man it’s so worth it in the end.

49. You’ll become an expert negotiator and bargainer after spending time in SE Asia and the Middle East.

50. You’ll also become really good at directions when you apply yourself or are alone somewhere. It’s amazing how your intuition will just kick in.

51. Travel days will end up being your most stressful days. You’ll stress most about missing flights or getting from point A to point B while hauling your bag.

52. You’ll have days you wish you had a lighter bag and days you wish you had a bigger bag.

53. You’ll come to the realization that people are the same all over the world and they just go about things in a fairly different way.

54. You’ll go to Turkey despite being nervous of terrorist attacks because a Turkish girl walked into your hostel room right as you were going to give up on your visa and convinced you to continue to fill out the visa and go. You listened to her and you went AND you loved it.

55. You’ll meet people with your dream job who help and show you how to get there.

56. You’ll also meet people with “cool” jobs that will make you realize that going to college and working in the corporate world behind a desk all day isn’t the only way to form a life.

57. You’ll find that money will come to you in mysterious ways, but also that it truly isn’t that important to be happy.

58. You’ll see people who are traveling for way longer than you with way less money than you and realize that you don’t need a ton of money to live a life of travel.

59. You’ll learn that it’s okay to let your walls down and be vulnerable. You’ve lived a life of being strong and courageous your whole life, but this year you’ll learn that you don’t have to hide your feelings if you’re afraid or nervous.

60. You’ll learn it’s not about collecting countries or cities for some list, but collecting experiences and memories for yourself.

61. You’ll learn to love where you came from and the country/state/town you grew up because it made you, YOU.

62. You’ll realize that you actually do want kids one day (WHAT!) and you do want to settle down and get married one day.

63. You’ll realize that you had more exciting, happy and inspirational things happen to you during this year than sad, scary or annoying things.

64. You’ll realize that you A) don’t have room for souvenirs, but B) think you’d rather spend that money on going somewhere new or experiencing something new than a little trinket.

65. You’ll be snorkeling and see a black tip reef shark in Malaysia and your heart will skip a beat.

66. You’ll realize that you don’t LOVE to party as much as you used to and that nights in are sometimes the best…lol and you’ll learn that you seriously never thought that would come out of your mouth.

67. You’ll realize that you’re older than a lot of the travelers you’ll meet on the road and you’ll realize that not many Americans travel solo and even less American women.

68. You’ll come back to the USA and have to move back in with your parents for a bit because you’ll have WAYYY less money than what you planned on having upon your return.

69. You’ll get really tan and really blonde and then lose it all really fast multiple times.

70. You’ll go to some of the same places many times and wonder how that happened…like Kuala Lumpur ?? (how did you end up going there 4x?).

71. You’ll visit your Japanese family in Japan and it will warm your heart to see them after so long. You’ll also wear a kimono, sing karaoke, eat foods you remember from your childhood, drink a ton of sake, and get your hair cut there.

72. You’ll rage in Munich at Oktoberfest with a bunch of your San Francisco and German friends.

73. You’ll lose a shit ton of clothes/shoes and other personal items and not really know where they went.

74. You’ll have a love-hate relationship with hostels after 1 year.

76. You’ll end up loving long bus rides, trains or planes because you can be silent, read and relax.

75. You’ll hang out with elephants, hold a raccoon, swim with sea turtles, ride a camel and begin your hatred for monkeys.

77. You’ll break your camera, phone and gopro, but luckily never lose any of them!

78. You’ll get into the backpacker grunge life and have a few potential dreadlocks in your hair, but you will never truly become a dirty hippy traveler. 😉

79. You’ll puke on a mini-bus…sorry Lauren!

80. You’ll fall out of a kayak and lose your stuff and then get it back!!

81. You’ll have friends come visit you from all over the world and you’ll go visit friends living in different parts of the world.

82. You’ll stay in an old Yugoslavian prison in Slovenia.

83. Almost every country you go to will be fairly easy to get around because so many countries speak great English.

84. Spending Christmas/Hanukah in Israel was one of coolest things you’ve done in your life and learning about the crazy conflict going on with Israel and Palestine will make you a lot more educated.

85. You’ll ask yourself HOW THE FU** this year went by so fast and how happy you are to have had this amazing experience.

86. Coming home isn’t going to be easy. Everyone who has done this before has said it would be hard, but now you’ll find out it really is.

87. You’ll celebrate your 28th birthday with family in Italy and throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain to make a wish.

88. You’ll tell everyone that you’re going to make it to Australia, but never go…and come home and still hope to make that dream true.

89. You’ll say you’re going to go “live in Spain to learn Spanish”, but instead you’ll drink, eat, and go to the beach for a month and learn, like, 2 new phrases.

90. You’ll feel like you just got your Masters in World Studies and honestly, you should put that shit on your resume.

91. You’ll get scammed out of your mind in Morocco and you’ll get really out of your comfort zone, but you’ll ride a camel in the Sahara with your sis, so all will be okay.

92. You’ll go on your first ever cruise and it will be a WILD party cruise from Singapore .

93. You’ll be sooooo excited to come home to have your full wardrobe back and look cute again.

94. You’ll sometimes (all the time) wish you were Dutch so you could live in the Netherlands.

95. You’ll realize you budgeted the perfect amount for a 365-day trip, but not a 425-day trip. 🙂

96. Your wild hair seems to do best in tropical locations.

97. You’ll truly believe that everyone should leave the USA at least once in their life to get a new perspective. Preferably a country that doesn’t speak English natively.

98. You’ll make a surprise trip back to the USA because you got accepted to a blogger retreat. This retreat will solidify your dream of being a full-time travel blogger one day.

99. You’ll look back on this year and wish it wasn’t over, but be glad to have learned all you learned and experienced all you experienced.

100. You’ll be grateful that you had the courage to take on the world, to leave life as you knew it and plunge into the unknown. You’ll look on this experience every day as the best decision you’ve ever made and you’ll never ever regret going out there to follow your freakin’ dreams.

Cheers to the future! 🙂 I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


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100 Things I Learned & Experienced from 1 Year of Travel
100 Things I Learned & Experienced from 1 Year of Travel
By | 2017-12-05T09:42:01+00:00 December 4th, 2017|Uncategorized|11 Comments

About the Author:

The Traveling Spud
Welcome to the Traveling Spud! I’m Katie, a 28-year-old from Idaho who quit her marketing job in San Francisco, California to travel the world for a year. I'm addicted to outdoor adventures, photography and inspiring others to get out of their comfort zones and cross experiences off of their bucket lists. Let's explore together! Read more here.

11 Comments

  1. Curtis Asay December 4, 2017 at 9:46 am - Reply

    Katie, I am so proud of you and of who you’ve become. I’m also very envious because I would have been scared sh…ess doing what you’ve been doing. Love you much.

    • The Traveling Spud
      The Traveling Spud December 4, 2017 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      Thanks Mr. Asay! It’s so good to hear you say that! 🙂 It was quite the adventure…that’s for sure!

  2. Elizabeth Howell December 4, 2017 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    What an amazing year+! Just started following your journey a few months back on insta – loved catching up on all the highlights that I missed! Can’t wait to see what you get up to next 😊

    • The Traveling Spud
      The Traveling Spud December 5, 2017 at 9:16 am - Reply

      AWW Thank you for following along! It certainly has been a crazy journey! 😉

  3. Juliann December 4, 2017 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    This post was so much fun. You made coming up with 100 experiences easy. Can’t wait to see what you experience on the way to 1,000. 🙂
    Juliann recently posted…Buffalo on Every CornerMy Profile

    • The Traveling Spud
      The Traveling Spud December 5, 2017 at 9:15 am - Reply

      HAHA I wish I put 1,000 cause I could have! So much can happen in a year! 😉

  4. Eric Coleman December 5, 2017 at 1:42 am - Reply

    Incredible post! Congratulations on making it back home! I’ve only been traveling for nine months, and only within Japan and South Korea, but I already resonate with so much of what you said. Especially number 53: “You’ll come to the realization that people are the same all over the world and they just go about things in a fairly different way.” This is one of the biggest takeaways that I’ve had from traveling. No matter where, people are just living normal life—making money, raising families, and doing the daily grind. It’s hard to recall what I believed before, but I guess it was something along the lines of thinking that Western life was real living and everywhere else people where just struggling. Shameful, I know, but it took travel to teach me otherwise. It’s cliché to say that “travel opens your mind” but hey, it does!
    Again, wonderful post! And best of luck on deciding where to go next!
    Eric Coleman recently posted…School Lunches in South Korea: A Week in PhotosMy Profile

    • The Traveling Spud
      The Traveling Spud December 5, 2017 at 9:15 am - Reply

      OMG same! I thought that exact same thing before leaving. It’s amazing how people in other countries are living their lives and doing a great job at it as well. I think I thought the world revolved around the USA or something?! HAHA so dumb. Thanks so much for reading and have a blast in Japan and South Korea! 🙂

  5. Ann December 7, 2017 at 10:39 am - Reply

    Katie, what an amazing list! All of the experiences you’ve had and the things you’ve learned in your 14 months of travel — Wow. Just WOW. And you definitely should put that sh*@ on your resume — whatever it is you choose to do next, you’ve definitely earned that Masters in World Studies.

  6. Jen December 14, 2017 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    I’m actually planning a longer stint of travel and this post is so heartwarming and encouraging! I already have Turkey on my list and detest public toilets around the world haha, also that you have to pay for them! So glad you came back with all these awesome memories!

  7. Cat December 15, 2017 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    You’ve traveled and experienced so much in one year! Great that you’ve also picked up some skills! Negotiation and directional skills are valuable to have in life 🙂

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