Top 5 things I learned while traveling the world!

I have been traveling since 2016 and just recently completed a trip all the way around the world starting in Orlando, Florida USA landing in London, England. 15 countries countless cities and back to Orlando again in 6 months. Through out this time traveling and walking the Camino De Santiago twice these are things I learned along the way.. about people, culture and more. 

1.) Always travel with an open mind! 

When you travel you cannot have a closed mind to new experiences and culture. To have an understanding that in other cultures and parts of the world they do not live like you. They have different customs and more that you may not agree with but that you must be open to.

You will encounter different religions and ways of thought that you may not be used to or may not agree with. This does not mean you can’t respect that. Like in Morocco and the evening call to prayer blasts over the loud speakers. Certain cultures that eat with their hands or only eat with the right hand and more. 

When you open your mind while you travel as I did you will possible have so many amazing experiences and memories that it will change you for life. 

2.) Travel with a smile! 

While traveling one of the greatest things you can do is smile! Now I know there will be these frustrating times where you may be trying to catch that train or bus or flight and you are stressed. Maybe trying to find the place you are going to stay and it can be overwhelming. But always try to smile and greet people as you go along. You will be surprised at how far a smile will go! 

A smile opens you up to a person and invites them to smile back. You may not speak the same language but a smile is universal and says a lot about a person right from the start. Not all cultures shake hands but all cultures smile! 

I could name so many times that a smile generated a great conversation, a helping hand or even a great new friendship along the way!

I remember one time in Athens I just missed my train to Drama. I was so upset and wasn’t sure what to do next. I decided to go to the ticket window and talk to them about my ticket. When I got in line I could see the ticket agent was not having a good day. The customer he was dealing with was aggravating him and my the time I got to him I thought my chances were slim at best to just get a later ticket and not have to pay again. I walked up to the window and smiled and said having a rough day? He kind of laughed and said yes one of those days. I said yes I have been there before but it will get better. I then went onto explain what happened to me through a small conversation. He said hold on and left to speak to the manager. He came back and said I took care of you with a big grin on his face and said here’s your new ticket no charge! I told him if I could hug you through this window I would!! He laughed out loud got up from his seat came out from the office and said here!! I gave him the biggest hug ever and we laughed! He said thank you for changing my day and I said thank you also!! Such an awesome memory and it was created at first with just a smile! 

3.) Stay positive! 

Now I know this can be very difficult at times and you will have those negative moments but don’t let them last very long! Don’t let them consume you!! Some how some way there is always a positive within the negative that you are experiencing! It could be you end up meeting someone new through a negative experience! You just never know! 

I remember while walking the Camino De Santiago with my new friend Joshi from Germany we both got so frustrated at one point because we just could not find an Albergue to stay at. Everything was full as we were getting closer to Santiago. We walked around this city for over 2 hours just trying to find a place to stay! Sweating to death frustrated and more I told Joshi don’t worry some how the Camino will provide! We decided on one last place. A private pension that’s door was open. The owner came down and said sorry we are full. He spoke very little English but I managed to explain to him our situation and for 2 hours we couldn’t find anything and if he could help in some way! He got on the phone and made some phone calls and after about 5 calls he found us a place to stay for only 10 euro a night! The place wasn’t the best but even in our negative moment we found a way to hold onto something positive and through this kind persons help we ended up having a great sleep and a great night! 

4.) Most of all have fun!! 

By fun I don’t mean go out and party although that is fun too! But have fun doing things new! Break out of your bubble, try new things, don’t worry about looking silly. dance in the streets with joy, give strangers a hug, go bungee jumping even if you are afraid, take a crazy ride on a tuk tuk! Have fun!!

When I was in Bangkok, Thailand I met some awesome locals! I really wanted to try street food but was nervous about not knowing which ones wouldn’t get me sick. They invited me out and took me all over the back alleys and to all of these great local street food places! I tried so many different foods, local foods and even ate some fried maggots and snails!! I would order those every day but I was determined to be like a local and have fun with great new local friends! We had so much fun the sun came up and we were all still talking and having fun! 

I stepped outside my comfort zone, tried new things, met amazing people and had so much FUN!! 

5.) Do not be afraid! 

So many times in our lives we allow fear to control us rather than us control it! Fear is good when it is controlled. Fear and instinct tell you this is a shady place and more. It is good to be aware while traveling but don’t let that fear control you! Don’t let the fear peddled on social media or major news outlets control you and where you go! More often than not this fear is a small issue but they make it seem larger than life! Now I don’t recommend flying into a war zone or anything either! Every country in the world has it’s negative side and bad areas to stay away from but it does not represent the whole country. 

When I was flying into South Africa to go to Cape Town and Johannesburg all I got from friends and family was be careful there. They hate people, are burning down farms and attacking people! Not making this political in anyway and they do have some issues there with these things but again it is not the whole country. I arrived there and met some of the most amazing people from different tribes and cultures! I walked the streets of both cities, climbed table top mountain, walked through Soweto and the home of Mandela and stopped in the Soweto Brewery and everywhere I went I was welcomed with a smile, a hand shake and a hello! I never felt uncomfortable or threatened and from I saw most of the population was making it together. So do not believe all you hear and do not let that stop you from where you want to visit. 

In closing I just wanted to say this, Through out all of my travels I have found this from observation to personal experience. 

Everyone around the world values most of the same things! Family, love, friendships and peace! So many places I went I saw parents picnicking with children, people playing games together in a café, enjoying movies together on the couch, going to the malls for a family shopping day, hugging each other, laughing with each other, talking politics, going to church, going to school, having their own struggles, meeting up with friends and more! We are all more alike than we are different! We need to stop allowing people to divide us! If we could do this then this world would be even more amazing than it is now! 

There is a saying that I always repeat. Ghandi once said “Go forth and be the change you wish to see in this world” I challenge you to be that change as I tried to be that change as I traveled the world! 

Peace, love and let’s experience this beautiful world together!

Backpacker Mike 

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