Travel Lessons You Can Apply Even When You're Not Traveling

woman traveling abroad during COVID-19

Photo credit: dodotone-Shutterstock

Scrolling through amazing travel pics on Instagram might make you nostalgic for the days we used to be able to move around the world without worry. But even if you're staying home this summer due to coronavirus concerns, there's plenty to learn from women who have spent their lives globetrotting. 

These travel journalists and influencers have amazing stories of where they've been, but their best takeaways are lessons learned on the road that can be applied at home, too. This summer, they're making the most of staying home and getting creative with their social media platforms to impart some wisdom we could all hear right now. 

Here are four lessons from their globetrotting experiences that still resonate in everyday life, and we’re here to celebrate them. 

1. Embrace the Adventures at Home 

Adventure-travel journalist and pilot Kellee Edwards would normally be abroad filming for the Travel Channel, or working on articles for Travel and Leisure, but right now, she’s taking advantage of the downtime. “Turns out social distancing has been a part of my DNA all my life, and shaped the explorer I’ve become today!” she posted on her Instagram account, right as most states began combatting COVID-19. 

“I hope that you all are using this time for a multitude of things that can be beneficial to you and your health, both mentally and physically,” she adds. 

So, before you hit the road on your own world tour, test the waters with adventures found closer to home. Try a new hobby, join a book club to make new friends, or take a class that’s always interested you. Spending more time with yourself now can help build up your solo-tolerance-time for when you’re ready to take your first independent trip.

2. Learn to Live with Less “Stuff”

Ivonne Morales is a carry-on only kind of traveler. Originally from Mexico, she has been packing light since 2014, and swears that less is more. “I fly standby, so it’s better to have my bag with me just in case I don’t make my flight,” she posted on her Instagram account. Her post also includes packing tips like how to maximize a minimalist wardrobe, and how to pack small objects like socks and underwear (she stuffs them in shoes and hats).

When it comes to travel, try packing only what you need. Imagine if you only had a carry-on bag for your entire life. What would you pack, and what would you leave?

It’s totally a Marie Kondo way of thinking: if the item does not spark joy, leave it at home. If it doesn’t spark joy in general, provide a new life for it elsewhere. The world may be opening up slowly, but there’s still time to go through your home and recycle, upcycle, or donate things that no longer serve you.

3. Examine Your Privilege

It’s clear that 2020 is a time of reckoning for many, especially in terms of social justice issues, and how they apply to our lives. Before the most recent Black Lives Matter movement, Gloria “Glo” Atanmo was vocal about the Black traveler experience. She has since used her platform as a resource center, where she combines education with her travel stories to inform her followers on how to be a better person, at home and abroad.


“Many abroad have told me I’m the first Black person they met, which means the implicit biases and conclusions they’ve drawn about Black people came from movies, music, and media,” she wrote on Instagram. She asks travelers to use this time to examine their privilege and to reference her Ally Resource Guide to learn more.

4. Learn to Make Deeper Connections

Living life by the guidebook is fine, but journalist Jada Yuan, who was the first reporter chosen by The New York Times to travel around the world and visit all 52 Places to Go in 2018, knows her experiences were more meaningful because she went out of her comfort zone on several occasions. 

One of her most memorable trips was visiting the African country of São Tomé and Príncipe, an island located off the coast of Gabon where Portuguese is spoken. In a CBC interview, Yuan said she didn’t even know the island existed. But after talking to some UN habitat workers, she realized it was more than something to check off of her bucket list.

“That whole experience for me was not only about being in this really beautiful place,” she told CBC, “but also learning about this work that the UN habitat was doing, to help a community that had been living in former slave quarters on a cocoa plantation…[and] moving them to better housing.”

There isn’t a guidebook for life, but there are people who can point us in the right direction and help us make the experience all the more enriching. Yuan encourages us to really think about not only our travels, but other aspects of our lives, with purpose.


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