100 Things I Learned & Experienced from 1 Year of Travel: A Letter to Myself
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 travelwrittenright 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?!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Welcome to the Traveling Spud! I’m Katie, a 29-year-old from Idaho who quit her marketing job in San Francisco, California to travel the world for a year. After a trip around the world, my heart chose Idaho. 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.