8 Life Lessons from Traveling: My First International Trip

8 Life Lessons from Traveling: My First International Trip

30 May 2020

Posted by Mikaela


There are plenty of life lessons from traveling. Including the ones we thought we’ll never need.

On this day last year, I’ve made a bold decision to grab an opportunity to take my first international flight. Before I list down some slice of life from traveling, let me tell you a story of who I am and where I am a year ago. I think many of you can relate to it and I hope we can all pick up something from my experiences.

Last May 30, 2019, I was sitting in the corner of a classroom waiting for my toga. I’m a senior student waiting for graduation. For most people, last year in college is the best year, but mine was a beautiful mess (inspired by Jason Mraz’s song). It was supposed to be fun and exciting, but to me, it’s a year full of battle against myself. Many things had happened (which I won’t discuss here to bore you). Feeling numb and empty, I look back in my life only to say “It’s just too dead simple, and boring.”

 I’m having huge emotions regarding my decisions and I forgot to be myself: a dreamer and a passionate person who puts an effort in chasing her dreams.

In the first place, I didn’t like my degree and only attended the university because it’s deemed important to become ‘successful.’

But not for me.  I’m the person who believes that I won’t finish college because I see myself pursuing other things. These are the things that are less regarded by society (arts). With the pressure and my mistake to not think things through, I’ve entered college without a concrete plan.

Little things down the road

There are little things down the road—my favorite line from the sitcom How I Met Your Mother. True enough, as we go along with our life, there’s so much that we’ll encounter. These are the things that we wouldn’t comprehend as we face the present, but became a turning point for us to grow.

It’s even funny how things don’t always come as we’ve planned and there’s nothing we can do, but to suck it up and move on. Ironically, we were told to learn and study hard to become successful, yet here we are, on different standings in life.

It’s the universe way to slam you, then groom you to become the person you’re supposed to be (I guess).

 “I’ll be a good Behavioral Science student, and success will follow.”

That’s my mindset for 4 years. I strived and did everything I can to achieve this goal. It started from a bet (with a friend) of who will be included on a Dean’s list first until I realized I could aim for something bigger like graduating as Cum Laude. The simple ‘trial’ blossomed into a better result as I graduated as a Magna Cum Laude. But still, it doesn’t fit me; there’s something wrong.


My last 2 semesters became a self-doubting spree — I don’t know what I want to be. I’m certain that I don’t want to work in a corporate office because it’s not my personality. But what hits me the most is that I forgot to dream.

After college, I don’t have a plan and that’s terrifying (the pressure I’m putting on with myself and the worthless feeling).

Then the little things down the road came to me. My block mate saw me in the corner and joked, “Mika, what if you join us in South Korea?” This South Korea trip is very invigorating—I dreamed of traveling the world, but not to the extent where I’ll go for it. They planned this trip 2 years ahead, and everyone got a different reason for doing it.

For her, it’s supposed to be a joke, but back then I’m too hungry for foolishness so I responded, “Sige, tara G!” (Sure! I’m in).

That spontaneous (as my friends would call it) decision became part of my journey. I felt like an adult responsible for her happiness (for the first time) and traveling made that possible.

Recent Journey

I’m still in that process, but at least now, I’m slowly recognizing myself again. The dreamer, ambitious, and passionate girl who’s not afraid to try. So here we are, you read my blog post (thank you), and me starting my blogging journey with high hopes of making a travel lifestyle possible and well, be good at it.

What a lengthy introduction story, huh? I will cut this here (sharing my personal story is hard for me, but it’s part of the challenge!) and start sharing the life lessons I’ve learned from my first international travel.

Life Lessons from Traveling

The following are insights based on my first international travel experience. One year ago, I wouldn’t have imagined I’ll be able to go out of my country. And that’s when I stopped worrying about life too much. I guess I just have to keep forward because whatever I do, the place I want to be in is the place where I belong.  

1. We are responsible for our happiness

If you’ve read the story above, you saw how I forgot to be truthful about myself. I was blindly accomplishing the dream of other people without considering mine. It went on for 4 years (yes, it’s a long time) with a lack of self-love. The moment we’ve arrived at Incheon airport was surreal! I was genuinely happy and proud that I made that decision for MYSELF. In life, we have the option to choose our happiness. I guess sometimes we are too caught up with adulting that we forget to consider ourselves in making decisions. Equally, choosing your happiness from time to time is significant.

2. Destinations are more important than direction

Traveling taught me I’ll be fine as long as I have a destination. For instance, we could take the bus, subway, airplane, or enjoy the long walks, and still, we’ll get to our destination. Just like in life, it doesn’t matter what methods are we taking to achieve our goals. The important thing is to focus on it and keep moving.  

3. Being lost is part of the journey

We were lost several times during our overseas trip. We asked strangers for directions, and they’re more than glad to help. The same goes for life. Some point in our lives, we will feel lost, and we might forget that people will guide us if we asked for help. It might not be a step-by-step instruction on how we should do certain things and where we should go, but it will direct us toward it. Again, the key here is to move forward. Take a step, and eventually, you can see the path. There’s  this quote that said, “We travel not to find ourselves, but to remember who we’ve been all along.” And that speaks volumes.

4. Cultural differences and diversity make the world beautiful

Another life lesson from traveling is seeing the beauty of diversity and cultural differences. Before, I find it too hard to believe that there’s still beauty in the world despite our current situations. It’s a cliché thing to say that our world is beautiful without a proper perspective and lack of empathy. We are so focused on our obstacles and forget to see beyond it. I understand and I’m glad that traveling is an eye-opener. Ever since, diversity and cultural difference was so precious and beautiful. It is what gives variety and color to our plain world; it even gives a more meaning on this planet. Above all, acceptance and appreciation are significant.

If you miss traveling, check out these travel-related activities you can do at home for your wanderlust.

5. Listen

In this world full of sounding stories, it seems like most people forgot to listen. Everyone has a story, and we need to be an active listener. Every country is unique with a fascinating history. We can appreciate it more if we understand its past and listen to its story.  

6. Less is more

I practice this as much as possible. As a low maintenance traveler, having less is more. We can apply it in packing and how we plan our itineraries. Because of our limited budget, we prefer to walk around the city of Seoul, and we discovered more as we go along. There are many things to see, even if we don’t spend a lot of money. Besides, we travel to experience than just take a photo and leave.

Curious about the low maintenance traveler? Here are 15 signs that you’re one!


7. Learn to ditch the plan

Of course, planning is necessary when traveling, but we need to learn when to ditch it sometimes. There’s no way we’ll always end up following it. Also, if we insist on sticking with it, you’ll become stressed and annoyed for the rest of the trip. Instead, use it as a framework of your trip, and don’t forget to be creative or spontaneous. I had to learn it the hard way in life, but you can avoid it now and learn from my mistake.

8. Experience is better than material things

I think buying flight tickets is the wisest purchase I’ve ever done. I rarely buy things for myself, that’s why I’m pointing this out. Experience is priceless and will stay with us forever. Not only with our memories, but as a person.

How about you? What are the life lessons you learned from traveling?

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Life Lessons from Traveling
Life lessons from traveling


17 responses to “8 Life Lessons from Traveling: My First International Trip”

  1. madhu sharma says:

    Wow that’s so true..travelling teaches us a lot of thing.great read

  2. Shelley says:

    As a solo traveler for the past 2+ years, I can say that this is a really amazing list… I especially loved #3. Being lost & then figuring it all out is so empowering!

  3. elle says:

    I relate to this post so much it had me tearing up. Everything si so relatable to my life. Your story moved me that I started crying lol but everything si so relatable from your point of view of happiness to finding yourself to the very last one, which is experience. But number 2 and 3 hit me so much with the double meaning behind. Looking forward to your next post and wishing you and everyone of us, genuine and pure happiness

  4. I learned similar things when I was traveling alone. It’s hard to stay closedminded when you are a stranger. LOL. I had to learn to ask questions to stranger and accept that I was lost.

    Great Post and Happy travels whenever that may be.

  5. Maria Black says:

    Great piece! My senior year was stressful for just about the same reasons: so much self doubt!!

    I’m glad that you chose the spontaneous route and had an adventure of a lifetime. It seems to be leading you to a path that makes you happy so keep it up and remember to always follow your bliss!!

  6. Michelle says:

    When I do go on an international trip, I love it! Yes I agree, being lost is part of the journey, and happens often! Good tips!

  7. Kelly Chen says:

    These are all great lessons. Over here, I usually tend to gift experiences rather than things. I think traveling is one of the best things money can buy. Hope you had a great trip!

  8. Sonia says:

    Nice one though utterly personal. There are many who would swear by the precise opposite of the 2, that is it’s not the destination but the journey that counts. However, all in all, yes, travel is one of the most empowering things one can do to themselves.

  9. Amazing how many important life lessons you received from that travel in a short period of time! The growth we experience from traveling to unfamiliar places is limitless!

  10. iemexploring says:

    This is a brilliant post! so many beautiful lessons learnt here! It’s so true you don’t even realise how much you learn when you travel, even if it’s the smallest thing. I am now spending time refection on my own journeys! thanks for sharing

  11. Kayla says:

    Lesson #8 is something I can relate to so well. Experience means so much more to me than materials!! Great article!

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