#NoRegrets Moments Every Traveler Should Experience

This post is written by me, brought to you by Contiki

I was originally going to write about bucket lists, but seeing as my feelings on the subject really haven’t changed over the years, I decided to make a list that is more abstract but, in my view at least, more meaningful. Instead of places you should go, I want to talk about the moments you will have. These are the irreplaceable experiences that all travelers collect, and they alone are often reason enough to start traveling.

This post is part of a series written in conjunction with Contiki Vacations. If you are a first-time traveler, or nervous about traveling alone, group trips like the ones offered by Contiki can be a great way to dip your toe in the travel experience. Whether you are alone or with a group, you are sure to find yourself surprised by each of the following experiences:

The Moment Where You Realize that Mind is Stronger than Matter

Steep temple step at Angkor Wat

At some point, your ambitions will exceed your personal fitness level (especially if you are like me and spend more time indulging on foreign cheese than of finding a foreign gym). The fact that you’ve spent more time on the couch than the treadmill will do nothing to dissuade you from wanting to hike the Great Wall of China or summit Mount Fuji or even walk the Camino de Santiago.

You will huff and you will puff but in the end you will probably persevere because when you want something bad enough, you will go through all kind of discomfort to make it happen. Standing at the summit will feel unreal and amazing, and kind of exhausting. You will feel like you can do anything.

Then you’ll go eat some gelato.

The Moment Where You Have Absolutely Zero Idea What is Happening

Confusion in Osaka (?)

This happens a lot, particularly for people willing to travel beyond their comfort zone. Maybe you’re hotel is evacuated and nobody can tell you why, or you’re staring at an incomprehensible train schedule, or you’re lost in a maze of similar looking streets. It’s inevitable, and a little bit scary when it happens, but after enough time you will learn to just shrug and watch what happens next.

The Moment Where You Impulsively Say Yes

Want to go to Tequila this weekend?

Do you want to go on a hike tomorrow? Do you want to have a drink? Do you want to hop on a bus for Montenegro tomorrow?

These questions come on both a large and small scale but they are united by the leap of faith you take. Travel puts you in the mindset where it is easy to impulsively agree to things you would normally never consider. This is one of the ways travel redirects you in ways you never thought possible.

My best impulsive yes moment is of course applying for a Chinese Visa at the last moment to visit this guy I had just met… the one who is now my husband.

The Moment Where You Make a New Friend

One of the reasons I never fret about traveling solo is the fact that it is so incredibly easy to make friends on the road. If you stay in a hostel, you barely even have to try, people basically throw themselves at you.

The first time this happens though, it’s extremely odd but satisfying. I still remember a pair of Canadian brothers my friend and I ran into in a hostel in Sarajevo. We all went out to dinner together and were immediately good friends for the next two weeks as we travels through Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia. When we parted there were tears. Nothing romantic happened, but somewhere in through those long bus rides, late night drinking sessions and afternoons sightseeing, we’d developed a bond that was like we’d known each other for years.

The Moment Where You Have No Idea What You Just Ordered

Still don’t really know, but it was spicy and it was good.

Travel basically beat my picky-eating habits right out of me. While I used to poke around my plate, picking out offending items, I will now eat almost anything without qualm. Including things that I can’t identify.

If you travel, particularly to places with steep language barriers like China, there will come a time when you will have absolutely no idea what you are eating. In a way it’s kind of good: it gives you a chance to experience something on taste alone before you realize that it is horse, or snake, or chicken ovaries or something.

The Moment Where You Realize You Are Just Fine

It’s normal for feel scared or anxious about travel. Personally, I experience this every time I head off solo. The days leading up to a trip and the first day or so of the trip can be nerve-wracking as all the potential things that could go wrong race through my mind. What if I get lost? What if nobody will talk to me? What if I hate it and then I cry and then I just fall over dead? (I didn’t say they were rational fears).

But somewhere on that first day, as you’re walking down the street somewhere totally new, a smile starts to cross your face. You can do this, you will be fine. This is what travel is all about.

This post is written by me, brought to you by Contiki

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25 thoughts on “#NoRegrets Moments Every Traveler Should Experience”

  1. I love this! All of these are so true, especially the one about having zero idea what is happening – this happens so often! In Delhi a couple of years ago, I was sure there was a terrorist attack at my hotel because I woke up to what i thought were gunshots in the staircase at some ungodly hour of the morning!!! The girls in the room across the hallway were terrified too and we locked ourselves in their bathroom hoping we would survive!! (the moment where you make a new friend, right!) But no, turned out to be just a causal religious ceremony cruising down the street at 4am with terrifyingly loud fire crackers…thank goodness for that!

  2. These are all so true! My favorite might also be the food. In Kashgar my friend and I were obsessed with a soup and kept going back to the market to get more. The texture was so bizarre, and finally someone was able to explain to us that it was lung soup. What?! Yum.

  3. I love these – all so true!! I think I’ve experiences all of them – my fave is the food. Some of the best dishes I’ve had, I just set down the menu, shrug my shoulders and point. The last one – when you realize you’re fine – is so freaking liberating πŸ™‚

  4. For me the moments where you Make A New Friend and Impulsively Say Yes are often combined. This leads to lots of interesting situations, like sharing a bed with someone you met only hours before, or sneaking three people into a two-bed private room. The list of great memories goes on. πŸ™‚

  5. For the most important travel moment was when I realized we’re all the same. I remember sitting at a table with my friends family and watched as the dad teased the youngest girl. The youngest boy wanted be aloof and the mom was just trying make sure everyone had enough to eat. It’s these moments were prejudice fades, your heart grows, and your mind learns.

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