29 Lessons I Learned While Traveling In My Twenties

29 Lessons I Learned While Traveling In My Twenties

On the eve of my 30th birthday (eek!), I’ve had this realm of panic consciousness,  much like every woman does during her #almost30 phase of self-reflection and realization. During my twenties, I’ve earned 4 college degrees, quit jobs, landed new ones, started my own business, lost love, found love again, traveled to dozens of countries and lived on 3 different continents in 3 years. It’s been an interesting 10 years to say the least.  So, what could I say sums up my 20’s? What did I learn? How did I grow and mature?

29 lessons I learned while traveling in my twenties - best friends are for life
With my best friends celebrating my 21st birthday in Atlanta, GA

Although I took my first international trip when I was 17 and my second at 21, I didn’t really understand the impact traveling would have until I was well into my late 20’s. From navigating new cities, language barriers, moving abroad and managing friendships and long distance relationships, I’ve learned quite a bit about myself and others. Most importantly, I learned how to be patient, how to treat others, to be tolerant, and to be carefree.

29 lessons I learned while traveling in my twenties -being a carefree black girl
Being carefree in a cenote in Cancun, Mexico

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. Traveling can be brutal. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things — air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky — all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it. The lessons I learned on the road and on the fly have made me a better woman, friend, lover and global citizen.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

29 lessons I learned while traveling in my twenties - travel to a new place at least once a year
Jumping for joy in Pont du Gard, France

So, without further ado, here’s 29 lessons I’ve learned while traveling, living abroad, and navigating life in my twenties:

  1. LOVE YOURSELF… it’s the only relationship that matters.
  2. Learn to LET GO… of things, people, places, and situations that are toxic and detrimental to your well-being. Or if you no longer find yourself growing.
  3. Practice SELF-CARE… traveling can be a form of self-care, but if it causes you more stress than it’s worth, don’t bother (e group trips).
  4. Be PRESENT… put down the devices and live in the moment.
  5. Black folks live for an ALL-WHITE PARTY… no matter the season.
  6. It’s okay to START OVER… it’s never too late to realize your dreams or go after what you want.
  7. MONEY isn’t everything… remember peace of mind is priceless.
  8. Don’t try to use a FAKE ID in Miami… ever. Better yet, don’t try to bribe the bouncers either.
  9. Be ADVENTUROUS… do shit that scares you. #YOLO, but don’t die.

    29 lessons I learned while traveling in my twenties - do shit that scares you!
    Whitewater rafting near Gatlinburg, TN
  10. PACK LIGHT… whether it’s emotional or literal baggage, the lighter the load, the further the journey.
  11. Be KIND… be generous and be sincere. The Universe is watching.
  12. ADHERE TO DRESS CODES… especially in countries with modesty rules. You might get detained in Zanzibar.
  13. COLLEGE isn’t for everyone…challenge conventional learning. Pursue your passions.
  14. EMBRACE CHANGE… don’t fight it.
  15. Be SPONTANEOUS… plans should be flexible, don’t let them rule you.

    29 lessons I learned while traveling in my twenties - do spontaneous shit like getting random piercings in Vegas
    Spontaneity is… getting a lip piercing in Vegas at 3AM
  16. When CHECKING BAGS always pack an outfit change and clean underwear in your carry-on. Better yet, don’t check bags at all.
  17. GET LOST… just not to the point where you need to be rescued by park rangers.
  18. Your TIME IS VALUABLE… and you don’t owe anyone a single second of it.
  19. LISTEN MORE… and speak less.
  20. TALK TO STRANGERSespecially locals, they know where the good stuff is. It takes awhile, but you’ll soon pass the “they’r going to kidnap me” paranoia. Don’t trust the bunnies at Mardi Gras though…

    29 lessons i learned while traveling in my twenties - don't trust the bunnies on bourbon street
    Don’t trust the bunnies on Bourbon Street  during Mardi Gras
  21. It’s okay to SAY “NO”… and not give it a second thought.
  22. COUCHSURFING is a great way to simply meet locals… and get invited to cool events!
  23. GO SEE for yourself… forget what you learned or what “they” said. Form your own opinions.
  24. DIVERSIFY and expand your networks… meet new people, join teams, connect and network.

    29 lessons I learned while traveling in my twenties - bioderma colleagues
    My colleagues at Bioderma Middle East were the BOMB!
  25. TRUST YOUR GUT… if it doesn’t feel right then it’s not right for you.
  26. The best CURES FOR HANGOVERS are… Pocari Sweat and Miso Soup. Trust me on this.
  27. Playing PEEK-A-BOO with a random child… will restore your humanity (just don’t be a creep).
  28. Don’t SEARCH FOR LOVE… let it find you. It will in the most unexpected of times.
  29. REAL FRIENDSHIPS don’t need a lot of maintenance… you can pick up where you left off like no time has passed.

Hopefully these jewels are something you can keep in mind as you traverse through the world.  How has traveling impacted your life? What insights have you gained? Share your gems with me!

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