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10 Lessons I’ve Learnt From 10 Years Of Travel

2019 was a big travel milestone for me as I celebrated 10 years since this whole adventure started.

Yup its been a whole decade since I first landed in Australia on a working holiday visa back in October 2009 and I’ve been going ever since.

How crazy is that?!

And after 10 years on the road I’ve learnt heaps of stuff, made lots of mistakes and hopefully helped you guys learn from those as much as I have!

So looking back on the last 10 years (flicking through my photos and YouTube videos is like having my own mini travel TV show!) I decided to pick my brains on the best lessons I’ve learnt from life on the road – so hopefully you’ll make the most of your next adventure…

10 Lessons I’ve Learnt From 10 Years Of Travel

1. Travel Slowly

In a day and age where everything is super fast paced I’ve noticed more and more travellers packing crazy amounts into their itineraries. 

welcome to melbourne working holiday visa

And I’m not just talking experiences and day trips – people seems to be cramming as many countries into their trips and possible too.

I get it – you want to see more of the world, tick those countries off the bucket list and make the most of whatever travel time you have.

But it’s far from ideal and are you really experiencing Thailand if you only have a week there? Are you really soaking up the East Coast of Australia in 2 weeks? Have you really made the most of Bali in 10 days?

Ok, I admit that for some people time is tight and they don’t have the luxury of a year long gap year – but if you do, please please please slow your travels down!

You’ll not only have a much more immerse experience but you’ll avoid backpacker burn out (yes that’s a thing!) but it can actually reduce your daily budget down too – especially in spots like South East Asia where your basic daily costs can be well under £10 per day.

Check out my post on “Travel Slow, Travel Far” for more reasons you should slow down!


2. Travel For You

In the last few years I was feeling pretty burnt out and I was starting to loose the energy for travelling. After sitting down and having a good old think I realised it was because my travelling was focused more of doing stuff for the blog than for my own personal goals.

surfing south africa cape town durban ticket to ride surf trip-2

Great for business but not so great for mental health and personal growth.

So I made the decision to do more of what I loved doing – and incase you didn’t notice that means a lot more surfing! 

Yup the last few years have been focused on the hunt for waves and I’m enjoy travelling a lot more because of it.

The moral of this lesson – don’t just do things because everyone else has told you “you have to do this“- it’s your money, your life and your adventure, so do it your way!

For some people that’s the pursuit of waves, other scuba diving, for some it’s just about partying and meeting new people. I’m not going to judge – you do you!

I’ve written about travelling for you before (check that out here) and I stand by the fact it’s the best piece of advice I can give you, along with the going slower thing!


3. Have A Plan…But Don’t Be Afraid To Ditch It

Everyone loves the idea of landing in a new country with nothing but the gear on their back and a sense of adventure. But to be honest I feel like that is a disaster waiting to happen and you should at least have a rough plan!

Even after 10 years on the road I’ll land in country with a rough itinerary and at the very least an airport transfer and 2 nights accommodation booked.

Yes most of the time that plan will go out of the window when you meet some new backpacker buddies who ask if you want to join them to do X or Y, but at least you have a fall back plan, a way of making the most of your time if those awesome spontaneous offers don’t materialise.

So yeah, have a plan, but don’t be afraid to sack it off!


4. Wealth Is Measured In Experiences

The saying goes “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” – it’s super cliche but it does have a point!

I am far from rich (seriously being a travel blogger is not the way to go if you fancy being a millionaire!) but I’ve been living the life most people couldn’t put a price tag on.

For the most part you can always make more money – but what you can’t get back is time. Travel and enjoy yourself, do the things you love and return having experienced heaps of new things and having had heaps of adventures.

Make a bucket list and get cracking on finishing it!

As far as I’m concerned travel is an investment in yourself – and whilst I may not be rich in the normal sense of the word, I’m certain rich in experiences and memories and that’s priceless.


5. The Little Things Add Up (Budget Wise!)

I’ve talked a lot about budgeting for travel over the years (check out my budget guides here) and you’ll notice that most of them echo the same thought – the little things soon add up.

Whether that’s skipping that extra beer (it’s 1 am anyway, do you really need another?!), eating more local street food or opting for the bigger dorm room for a few nights, those extra savings will pile up.

And you’ll also notice that on my monthly budgets I exclude booze – for the simply fact that partying makes a HUGE dent in your overall budget.

Now I’m not saying don’t drink on your travels (I’ve enjoyed more than my fair share of party chaos!) but if you want to make your money go further be a bit more frugal with how many buckets you’re smashing in Thailand and by avoiding over priced cocktails in Bali in favour of some beers instead!

The whole small things add up also rings true when you’re saving for your travels too. Skipping that daily coffee of making your own lunch can pay off heaps in the long run.

Enjoy life and treat yourself, just be aware those little extra spends quickly mount up, especially on a long term trip.


6. You’ll Never Travel Alone

Honestly even as a solo traveller you’ll very rarely travel alone. In fact probably the only point you will is to and from the airport!

backpacking solo first time europe a backpackers tale stephen

And that’s the great thing about travelling – you’ll meet so many amazing people, people you’d never have met otherwise.

You’ll become friends with people from all over the world, cultures and religions – and soon find yourself with offers of places to crash in cities around the globe!

Travelling solo is merely leaving on a plane on your own with your own plans. As soon as you start travelling you’ll quickly realise how easy it is to meet new people and enjoy the world with them.

On my first trip to Oz I got chatting to a guy called Jonny on the plane next to me – we ended up campervanning the West Coast of Australia together a month later and I still chat to him now!

Solo travel certainly doesn’t mean being alone.

And if you’re still worried about it check out these posts on solo travel!


8. Places Change…A LOT!

It might sound obvious – but cities, towns, islands and even countries can change A LOT. Sometimes it’s for the good, but also sometimes for the bad.

For example I fell in love with Siargao in The Philippines when I first visited it.

It was quiet, easy on the wallet and incredible surf, everything I’d been looking for. But on my most recent trip there it was almost unrecognisable – busy, way more expensive and not nearly as enjoyable.

What I’m trying to get at here is enjoy the experience you have in a place, it may well not be the same if you ever come back so make the most of it.

It’s also hard not to revisit a place without expectations, but sometimes you just have to lower them – else your whole headspace could ruin your trip! 

Be prepared for change and enjoy the moment.


9. …And So Will You

Along with places changes as you travel, it’s guaranteed that travelling will change you as a person – and usually for the better!

Experiencing new cultures and people will make you more open minded, travelling solo will make you more confident and independent too.

It’s also the life skills as well – from managing money and making plans to creating new friendships and generally organising your entire life into a backpack. You’ll re enter the real world (if you ever do!) feeling heaps more prepared.

Travelling will also open your world up too (no pun intended!) and you’ll view everything in a different way, with new angles, opinions and experiences.

For some people it gives them a realisation of what’s important in life, for others it helps clear up what they want career wise.

It’s different for everyone, but one things for certain – travel will change you into a different person.


10. Embrace The Opportunities

Sure I’ve said have a plan when you travel, but also remember that that plan is disposable! One of the epic things about travelling is the amount of opportunities that will appear on a day to day basis.

marine conservation projects fiji awesome adventures scuba dive backpacker

The trick is to recognise them and not be afraid to embrace them – it may totally change your life!

I’ve met hundreds of people who have completely changed careers and found their calling in life whilst they’ve been travelling.

Some have become divemasters and now live on islands in Thailand, other are surf coaches now season hopping around the globe.

Travel open up a whole world of people and opportunities you can tap into.

But it’s not alway as big as a life changing career move – it’s the small things you should embrace too.

Take up that offer to have a beer with that fellow traveller in the hostel – who knows who you might meet or what adventures you might have as a result.

Don’t be afraid to sack of your plans and travel a while longer with that absolute legend you’ve spent the last week enjoying life with in Bangkok – you could find yourself on a crazy adventure in Cambodia as a result!

Embrace the unexpected, go with the flow and grasp all the amazing opportunities that might pop up – travel is a melting pot of life and you never know where it could lead!

….geez you might wake up 10 years later, look back and wonder how different your life would be if you hadn’t booked that flight to Australia ;)

What lessons have you learnt from your travels?

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