20 Things I've Learned From Traveling Around the World for Three Years

Gary Arndt is the man behind Everything Everywhere, one of the most popular travel blogs in the world, and one of Time Magazine’s “Top 25 Best Blogs of 2010.” Since March 2007, Gary has been traveling around the globe, having visited more than 70 countries and territories, and gaining worldly wisdom in the process.

Today, I’ve asked him to share some of that wisdom.

Enter Gary

On March 13, 2007, I handed over the keys to my house, put my possessions in storage and headed out to travel around the world with nothing but a backpack, my laptop and a camera.

Three and a half years and 70 countries later, I’ve gotten the equivalent of a Ph.D in general knowledge about the people and places of Planet Earth.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned…

1) People are generally good.

Many people are afraid of the world beyond their door, yet the vast majority of humans are not thieves, murderers or rapists. They are people just like you and me who are trying to get by, to help their families and go about living their lives. There is no race, religion or nationality that is exempt from this rule. How they go about living their lives might be different, but their general goals are the same.

2) The media lies.

If you only learned about other countries from the news, you’d think the world was a horrible place. The media will always sensationalize and simplify a story. I was in East Timor when the assassination attempts on President José Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão occurred in 2008. The stories in the news the next day were filed from Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur, not Dili. It was all secondhand news. I was in Bangkok during the political protests this year, but you’d never have any idea they were happening if you were not in the immediate area where the protests were taking place. The media makes us scared of the rest of the world, and we shouldn’t be.

3) The world is boring.

If there isn’t a natural disaster or an armed conflict, most places will never even be mentioned in the news. When is the last time you’ve heard Laos or Oman mentioned in a news story? What makes for good news are exceptional events, not ordinary events. Most of the world, just like your neighborhood, is pretty boring. It can be amazingly interesting, but to the locals, they just go about living their lives.

4) People don’t hate Americans.

I haven’t encountered a single case of anti-Americanism in the last three-and-a-half years. Not one. (And no, I don’t tell people I am Canadian.) If anything, people are fascinated by Americans and want to know more about the US. This isn’t to say they love our government or our policies, but they do not have an issue with Americans as people. Even in places you’d think would be very anti-American, such as the Middle East, I was welcomed by friendly people.

5) Americans aren’t as ignorant as you might think.

There is a stereotype that Americans don’t know much about the rest of the world. There is some truth to that, but it isn’t as bad as you might believe. The reason this stereotype exists is because most other countries on Earth pay very close attention to American news and politics. Most people view our ignorance in terms of reciprocity: i.e. “I know about your country, why don’t you know about mine?” The truth is, if you quizzed people about third-party countries other than the US, they are equally as ignorant. I confronted one German man about this, asking him who the Prime Minister of Japan was. He had no clue. The problem with America is that we suffer from the same problem as the rest of the world: an obsession with American news. The quality of news I read in other parts of the world is on par with what you will hear on NPR.

6) Americans don’t travel.

This stereotype is true. Americans don’t travel overseas as much as Brits, Dutch, Germans, Canadians or Scandinavians. There are some good reasons for this (big country, short vacation time) and bad ones (fear and ignorance). We don’t have a gap year culture like they have in the UK and we don’t tend to take vacations longer than a week. I can’t think of a single place I visited where I met Americans in numbers anywhere close to our relative population.

7) The rest of the world isn’t full of germs.

Many people travel with their own supply of water and an industrial vat of hand sanitizer. I can say in full honestly that I have never used hand sanitizer or gone out of my way to avoid contact with germs during my travels. It is true that in many places you can get nasty illnesses from drinking untreated water, but I don’t think this means you have be a traveling Howard Hughes. Unless you have a particularly weak immune system or other illness, I wouldn’t worry too much about local bugs.

8) You don’t need a lot stuff.

Condensing my life down from a 3,000 sq/ft house to a backpack was a lesson in knowing what really matters. I found I could get by just fine without 97% of the things I had sitting around my home. Now, if I purchase something, I think long and hard about it because anything I buy I will have to physically carry around. Because I have fewer possessions, I am more likely to buy things of higher quality and durability.

9) Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive.

Yes, if you insist on staying in five-star hotels and luxury resorts, travel can be very expensive. However, it is possible to visit many parts of the world and only spend $10-30 per day. In addition to traveling cheap, you can also earn money on the road teaching English or working on an organic farm. I’ve met many people who have been able to travel on a little more than $1,000/month. I met one man from the Ukraine who spent a month in Egypt on $300.

10) Culture matters.

Many of our ideas for rescuing other countries all depend on them having similar incentives, values and attitudes as people in the West. This is not always true. I am reminded of when I walked past a Burger King in Hong Kong that was full of flowers. It looked like someone was having a funeral at the restaurant. It turned out to be people sending flowers in celebration of their grand opening. Opening a business was a reason to celebrate. In Samoa, I had a discussion with a taxi driver about why there were so few businesses of any type on the island of Savai’i. He told me that 90% of what he made had to go to his village. He had no problem helping his village, but they took so much that there was little incentive to work. Today, the majority of the GDP of Samoa consists of remittances sent back from the US or New Zealand. It is hard to make aid policies work when the culture isn’t in harmony with the aid donors’ expectations.

11) Culture changes.

Many people go overseas expecting to have an “authentic” experience, which really means they want to confirm some stereotype they have in their mind of happy people living in huts and villages. They are often disappointed to find urban people with technology. Visiting a different place doesn’t mean visiting a different time. It’s the 21st Century, and most people live in it. They are as likely to wear traditional clothes as Americans are to wear stove top hats like Abraham Lincoln. Cultures have always changed as new ideas, religions, technologies sprang up and different cultures mingled and traded with each other. Today is no different.

12) Everyone is proud of where they are from.

When you meet someone local in another country, most people will be quick to tell you something about their city/province/country that they are proud of. Pride and patriotism seem to be universal values. I remember trying to cross the street once in Palau, one of the smallest countries in the world, and a high school kid came up to me and said, “This is how we cross the street in PALAU!” Even crossing the street became an act to tell me about his pride for his country. People involved in making foreign policy should be very aware of this.

13) America and Canada share a common culture.

This may irk Canadians, but we really do share a common North American culture. If you meet someone overseas, it is almost impossible to tell if they are American or Canadian unless they have a particularly strong accent, or they pronounce the letter “z.” It is easier to tell where in England someone is from than it is to tell if someone is from Denver or Toronto. We would probably be better off referring to a “North American” culture than an “American” culture. What differences do exist (Quebec being the exception) are more like differences between states and regions of a similar country.

14) Most people have a deep desire to travel around the world.

Not shocking, but every day I meet people who are fascinated by what I do and how I live. The desire to travel is there, but fears and excuses usually prevent people from doing it. I understand that few people can drop what they are doing and travel around the world for three years, but traveling overseas for even a few months is within the realm of possibility for many people at some point in their lives. Even on an island in the middle of the Pacific, people who would probably never leave their home island talked to me of wishing they could see New York or London for themselves one day. I think the desire to explore and see new things is fundamental to the human experience.

15) You can find the internet almost everywhere.

I have been surprised at where I’ve found internet access. I’ve seen remote villages in the Solomon Islands with a packet radio link to another island for their internet access. I’ve been at an internet cafe in the Marshall Islands that accessed the web via a geosynchronous satellite. I’ve seen lodges in the rainforest of Borneo hooked up to the web. I once counted 27 open wifi signals in Taipei on a rooftop. We truly live in a wired world.

16) In developing countries, government is usually the problem.

I have been shocked at the level of corruption that exists in most developing countries. Even if it is technically a democracy, most nations are run by and for the benefit of the elites that control the institutions of power. Political killings, bribery, extortion and kickbacks are the norm in many places. There is little difference between the Mafia and the governments in some countries I’ve visited. The corruption in the Philippines was especially surprising. It isn’t just the people at the top who are corrupt. I’ve seen cops shake people down on the street for money, cigarettes or booze.

17) English is becoming universal.

I estimated that there were at least 35 native languages I would have had to have learned if I wanted to speak with locals in their own tongue. That does not include all the languages found in Papua New Guinea or Vanuatu or regional dialects. It is not possible for humans to learn that many languages. English has become the de facto second language for the world. We are almost to a point where there are only two languages you need to know: whatever your parents speak… and English. English has become so popular it has achieved an escape velocity outside of the control of the US and UK. Countries like Nigeria and India use it as a unifying language in their polyglot nations. Other countries in the Pacific do all their schooling in English because the market just isn’t there to translate textbooks into Samoan or Tongan.

18) Modernization is not Westernization.

Just because people use electricity and have running water doesn’t mean they are abandoning their culture to embrace western values. Technology and culture are totally different. Japan and South Korea are thoroughly modern countries, but are also thoroughly Asian. Modernization will certainly change a culture (see #11 above), but that doesn’t mean they are trying to mimic the West.

19) We view other nations by a different set of criteria than we view ourselves.

On the left, people who struggle the hardest for social change would decry changes in other countries that they view as a result of globalization. On the right, people who want to bring democracy to other countries would be up in arms at the suggestion that another country try to institute change in the US. In both cases, other nations are viewed by a different set of rules than we view ourselves. I don’t think most people around the world want the help or pity of the West. At best, they would like us to do no harm.

20) Everyone should travel.

At some point in your life, whether it is after college or when you retire, everyone should take an extended trip outside of their own country. The only way to really have a sense of how the world works is to see it yourself.

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If you’ve ever fantasized about taking time off to globe-trot, I would highly recommend Rolf Pott’s Vagabonding. It is one of only two books I took with me when I traveled the world for 18 months. Outside Magazine founding editor Tim Cahill calls Vagabonding “the most sensible book of travel related advice ever written.”


I recently partnered with Rolf to release the exclusive audiobook for Vagabonding. For more on this incredible book, click here.

Odds and Ends:

Vegetarians vs. Meat-Eaters:

My recent guest post from Robb Wolf created something of a religious war between meat-eaters and vegetarians. The comments — 816 and counting — got ugly fast.

Whether you’re a die-hard meat-eater or plant-eater, I highly recommend watching the below video of Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Eating Animals. He is a brilliant writer, and we were actually in the same class at Princeton. Take some time or let it run in the background as audio — the following discussion is worth it:

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 800 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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463 Replies to “20 Things I've Learned From Traveling Around the World for Three Years”

  1. The world is a fascinating place to visit indeed. Check out this video from Krakow (Poland). And as Gary has said: It can be amazingly interesting, but to the locals, they just go about living their lives.

  2. hi,

    you’re presenting very simplified and ethnocentric arguments. yet one or two were uninteresting and obvious, namely “the internet is everywhere.” i was equally fascinated by the simplicity of the content and the number of positive responses. utterly fascinated. “everybody loves americans?” “americans aren’t ignorant in politics?” it’s astonishing that european culture is actually very geared toward government discourse, even at the level of young people. americans, on the other hand, anthropomorphize their tiny dogs, on average, much more than have any sophisticated discussion about politics.

    good luck, seeing the world through your narrow lens.

    blayze

  3. Hello, Tim. Have you ever been to Russia? If you decide to visit it, we can show you great places and people. You might be surprized but there’re some true fans of 4HHW in Russia.

  4. Great post.

    A little too North American! hahaa

    People, No one in the world is anti-american… oks, maybe some ppl, but is because they hate the actions of your country, not you as individuals.

    Anyway most of them just don’t care about you in an especial way. Even when some people from the US. expect that, some how!? hahaha

    Travelling we are all the same, travelling you are just your values.

    about americans being ignorants, mm well I think that americans who don’t travel are controlled by the media, & that’s a terrible thing.

  5. The world is not boring. Believe me I also like to travel and everytime I see and meet something interesting and not boring as you said. Anyway nice places you showed in the pictures. Great work

  6. Thanks Gary. This is very encouraging. This also gives me comfort as someone who has never traveled outside the country. I never believed the world was bad, but if you isten to news enough, it would be easy to buy into it. Thanks, and happy travels!

  7. Americans, Study your geography!! I’ve also seen videos of Brits who make Americans look like geography geniuses hahaha great stuff! and who could forget, Miss South Carolina! I hope someone out there has seen that!

  8. this is a great post you have been abroad for 3 years that is awesome. the wealth of knowledge that you have is incredible. i agree with you, evreyone should travel the world

  9. Two points. First, the media doesn’t lie. Not deliberately. Reporters report what they see. It might be that they’re being kept from a troublespot by locals trying to control the image that’s being prevented abroad; or it’s just too dangerous to travel into the hotspots. You’re probably too young and too unaware of history (and you should rectify that – it adds to the “experience” of a place if you know a bit of history) to realise that journalists have been killed covering unrest in Indonesia (and in what is now East Timor). No story is worth dying for.

    Second, someone telling you how they cross the road in Pulau might not be pride in their local culture. It might be exasperation with you, a blundering visitor who hasn’t bothered to pay attention to local manners/customs (see my point above about getting to know a bit of history, too). For example, in London, we stand on the right of escalators and walk up/down on the left. If a Londoner points this out to you, it’s probably because they’re pissed off at you not paying attention a) to the signs on the escalators that clearly say Please stand on the right and b) to the fact that people are standing on the right and walking on the left. We’re comfortable in our culture, thanks. We’d like you to have the awareness and manners to pay attention to local custom not because we’re proud of it, but because it’s beyond annoying when some American kid with a ton of luggage causes blockages at busy Tube stations.

    oh, and not everyone wants to travel. You do; I do, but don’t extrapolate your interpretations on to other people. Which is kind of what this whole blog does. (Oops, I guess that’s three points.)

    I’m delighted you’ve discovered some universal truths about travelling. Now have a deeper think about some of them.

    1. Daphne, the point on the media is well taken. Rather than say that the media lies, I prefer the quote of a professor of mine from years ago: “The media’s purpose isn’t to educate.”

      Regarding the behavior of Americans in London, I can’t comment directly as I have never been to England, but in my trips overseas I’ve seen my compatriots in a wide variety of situations ranging from the very best behaved to the very worst. I’m thinking that our most uncouth representatives stand out like sore thumbs and give the rest of us a bad name.

      Also, to your point on travel, I personally prefer a balance between travel and time at home to relax, take it all in, savor those experiences and share them with others. I appreciate my opportunities to travel more when I have had those reflective times.

  10. Dear Tim,

    I’m afraid that I am from another country and have to dispell your myth a bit.

    My girlfriend is Spanish – and her entire wider family (apart from her brother) does not speak English. You talk in English to someone in Spain or Italy, or a slavic country or Greece or Turkey… and they don’t speak the language. Trust me – I speak Dutch, English, a bit of Spanish/German/French and still have a hard time communicating with many people abroad.

    People around the world do not HATE americans. But that doesn’t mean we like the USA. Americans are nice (though they are mile wide, inch deep in general) but the way the US uses it’s cultural imperialism irks a lot of people.

    The way the US feels it has a right to invade whichever country it feels like, not take part in any kind of treaty which is for the good of the world instead of the good of the US (Kyoto, UN Resolutions, International Law Tribune in the Hague) – how they feel that the rest of the world should conform to their policies is quite irritating… you guys need to understand that you are part of the problem, not the solution! Somehow you find it justified…. we don’t.

    You are right that most people are ignorant from the rest of the world…. but there is quite a difference between knowing general knowledge about the rest of the world or knowing names & dates etc.

    Ask the same man if he can point to japan on the map and he can – and with people from the US… I would be less sure.

    I understand that it is hard for Americans to travell abroad and think it is totally legitimate to not travell that much abroad…

    p.s. I had an american woman working in my office who thought that the Beatles were American…. of course it is just one woman, but it was a well educated woman. Just to show how deep the ignorance goes.

    For that matter I also overheard a German asking in Rotterdam why there were no old houses there (they aren’t there because the Germans bombed the city to pieces a couple of decades before)

  11. You made a mistake

    …you go from numbering the myth to numbering the truth.

    So basically, it seems like you’re saying the world IS boring, the world IS full of germs, people DO hate americans, people DON’T want to travel etc.

    Fix that.

  12. Hi Tim and Gary,

    Thanks for writing and posting this article. It confirms many of our ideas after we have been travelling the world [Asia and South America, that is] for the past 7 years.

    For the Americans unsure about their image: I agree with this article. Even in countries like Iran and Pakistan, people told me that Americans were welcome in their country. They may don’t like American politics/government but they see this as a different entity than humans. We came to think that because in their own countries many of them don’t see THEIR particular government as the right reflection of who THEY are, they assume that it works similar in other countries; hence the American government doesn’t properly represent the [image of] American people.

    As to the corruption of government aspects, I would like to point out the following. It is [well, I find] it too easy to point a finger at governments. You [generally speaking] are pointing to a level where the change won’t take place.

    Governments are a reflection of the people they represent [no matter the fact that many of the votes may have been bought – in fact, this exactly proves my point]. We strongly saw this in, among other countries, Bangladesh. When you travel the Bangladesh countryside you can have nothing but deep respect for these people; hardworking, good farmers slaving for pennies who have a strong sense of hospitality. However, as soon as these honest, hardworking citizens enter the bureaucratic world they work their way up and many [by far not all, of course] take their chance to become just as corrupt as the leaders who, only years earlier, they criticised for corruption.

    Leaders of countries are human beings, nothing more, nothing less. In corrupted countries corruption not only takes place on high levels. It is an ingrained part of daily lives, for example:

    – Votes are bought [you can argue ‘what do you do when you are hungry’, but you will always find people who even when hungry don’t bend for such a thing].

    – The whole system of choosing a new employee based on the person being a friend/cousin/whatever, in stead of on basis of this person’s credentials.

    – The driver who prefers paying a bribe to the policeman instead of accepting a fine [which will cost him more].

    These are just some examples of how the system is corrupt on all levels. In the last example, it’s not just the policeman who is corrupt – the driver is just as guilty. Don’t just blame the policeman for accepting a bribe, blame drivers for feeding the system by paying them.

    The only difference is that when these [ordinary] people become leaders, the corruption takes place on a larger scale and has larger consequences. To give a crude example, with which many may not agree. Hitler could remain in power because millions allowed him to be in power. It can’t simply be that one man is stronger than millions of men, unless those millions allow him to be stronger [please note that I am not trying to ignite a discussion about the reasons for WWII here, nor am I blaming Germans or anybody else for keeping Hitler in power or anything like that – it’s just meant as an example]. The word ‘Hitler’ can be changed into any corrupt leader/government currently ruling any country.

    Eliminating corruption is not something that takes place on high levels. It has to be eliminated from a deeply ingrained culture.

    As may be concluded from above, yes I feel very strongly about this. It is us, ordinary citizens, who decide what our world looks like. And by constantly looking at yourself, and deciding ‘Am I really doing the right thing here’ we can all together change the world in a very short time.

    – I can blame others for not using garbage bins; instead I can pick it up or point out a garbage bin to that particular person [if I see it happening].

    – Instead of pointing fingers at countries for only selling illegal DVDs I can instead make sure that at least my DVDs are legal [which may not be an matter easy thing to obtain in some countries, but that’s another discussion].

    and on and on goes the list.

  13. hey, i just happened to stumble upon this but it is such an amazing blog

    travelling has been one of my ambitions for years, and as soon as i finish school, im going to do everything in my power to see the world and this was such a great inspiration. i now believe that it is possible to just do it, thank you so much : )

  14. Many people, not all people, outside the US do harbor negative feelings towards US and its citizens. I’ve listened to their stories and studied the topic on my own. I’ve come to the conclusion that their reactions are legitimate. Unfortunately, people bearing the US flag has not always been the force for good.

    However, my experience has also taught me that the best traits of humanity such as generosity, compassion, and love exits in abundance all over the world, even in the poorest of people . These people welcome you into their homes, clear a place for you at their table, prepare delicacies with they cannot afford for themselves, and send you off with gifts, even though you are a complete stranger to them. One could only be humbled by their nature.

    In many ways, one person is so small compare to the world. One person can only experience a tiny fraction of what the world really is. One can only understand so much of the good and the bad he/she experiences while traveling. Therefore, prospective can wildly differ by individual. However, one does feel the urge to go out and figure it out for himself/herself. 🙂

    I think I got the travel bug reading this post. Excuse me while I beat it out of myself. 😛

  15. Great post.

    I think everyone experiences these revelations on some level while traveling. However I’ve never seen them articulated as precisely or as succinctly as in this post.

  16. I loved reading this (: Travel is one of my passions, but since I’m still in high school I don’t really have the time to pack up and leave whenever I want to, but I wish I did! So far I’ve been to Costa Rica four times, and I just took my first trip to China this summer, and in January I have plans to go to Uganda and Swaziland. So I’ve had a bit of travel experience, but not nearly as much as I’d like!

    This post really got me excited about my upcoming travels, even more excited than I was before I read it! I especially liked the first point, “People are generally good,” because I’ve found that in Costa Rica and China, people have seemed to be less paranoid about letting their children run about outside, and about talking to strangers or inviting us into their homes and stuff. And I’ve really enjoyed getting to meet all sorts of people, getting hugs from random strangers, watching the Chinese wave and call out to me in English when they see I’m American, and just witnessing the goodness of people.

    1. I think it’s great that you’ve been able to visit all those places while still in high school! I could never manage to take a trip overseas until I was in college.

  17. As a traveler, I agree with most of the myths made. I am currently six months into, what I hope to be, a three year trip.

    I do, however, disagree with the similarities between Canadians and Americans. While traveling, I’ve met many of each. As a general bias (there are always exceptions) I have found Canadians to be more polite and more open minded. I’ve been with an American entering a bar, and witnessed him being warned by the bouncer to not mention his nationality.

    Americans have complained more and generally always compared the current culture with their own. When differences arise, the Americans became more frustrated, whereas the Canadians accepted the differences with ease.

    Traveling is definitely not scary, it just needs to be embraced properly to enjoy it. It’s not for all but it’s the greatest experience I’ve ever lived and I would do it for the rest of my life if I could.

    1. Mallory, this three year trip you’re planning sounds fantastic!

      Gary, so glad of your point #1. I’ve always believed this and the more I travel, the more I believe.

      The travelers I’ve meet are so open-minded and accepting, as a result of their travel, or the reason for it, I don’t know! Any thoughts?

  18. #19 is not the sign for Nazism; it’s for Buddhism.

    If you see that sign with a phone number, usually it’s an ad by a fortuneteller.

  19. Gary! Awesome! Thank you for sharing your “world wisdom” with us! Whether I agree with it all ( I do ) or not, the priceless education you’ve gifted yourself with is wonderful..and no one can discount it or take it away from you! I love that you have gone, done and seen what you have! Yours is a life lived! I can only imagine what you will do with the rest of your years! Here’s to you and your journey!

  20. I agree with most of these points, although I would argue that English is so ‘popular’ in countries such as Nigeria, India and certain Pacific islands because they were British colonies way back when the British Empire was going strong, as were the original 13 US colonies (hence us all speaking English). It’s not a modern change, it goes much further back and probably explains why many people in Europe (France and Spain, for example) don’t speak English – they had their own empires and no need to learn another language!

  21. You are absolutely right – I spent two years in South America and I can confirm (almost) everything you say. The reality of a foreign culture is more interesting and beautiful than anything you will ever read about.

    I disagree with #7 (germs) however. I got deathly ill in the first few months down there. The problem is not that there are more germs. The problem is that they are different germs. The local people have adapted to them, we haven’t.

    Heck, I even get sick when I visit New York.

    Everybody should travel after they graduate. It will be the most formative experience, and best education in their life.

  22. I have never seen how it could be possible to just up & leave . . . with little to virtually nothing. I don’t understand how you could get from one place to another or where you would stay. Furthermore, I have always considered this as a possibility I just never thought about a proper way to do it. I’m 27 years old and I have never been to 98% of the entire country and have lived in Florida for practically my entire life. I have always had the stereotype that traveling or just to decide to leave takes thousands of dollars regardless of hotel fees and sight seeing. What about transportation? Where would you get the money to catch the bus? Hitch hike? Take a plane? etc …. etc … If someone would be so kind as to answer my post I would be much obliged. Thanks

  23. i didn’t travel around the world for three years, but i spent a month in india after graduating high school and i also realized a lot of these things. the world is so big and diverse and amazing. people and cultures out there will blow your mind if youve never traveled outside the united states. everyone should travel outside of their comfort zone and experience the world.

  24. Hey man, awesome post, been playing with the idea of travelling the world for some time now, but keep getting caught up in the what ifs, and the things that hold us back like car payments, and debt etc, its given me a different view and sparked the flame again, time to sort out my sh*t and become a free traveling man.

    the 1 thing that still gets to me is the Visa story, being from south africa. i dont have free access to allot of countries and cant buy visas at the border, any help or input to this? earning cash and living day to day is not a major concern….. yet.

    thanks 🙂

  25. Thanks for this post. Tim, I’m following your blog posts since almost a year now (since the 4hour workweek fell into my hands) and I must say it is weird that it’s the first time I feel compeled to add my voice and at the same time discover that it hasn’t written by you (but surely could have been).

    I like this optimism that fills this article, I feel like we need more of this kind of thoughts nowadays. I’m myself a true optimist but have to fight to keep it that way…

    World is just a huge village were everyone wants to have its place and word to say…

    Many thanks once again for these soothing words !

    Dimitri from Brussels

  26. When you suspected you’d get the Canadians going – boy were you right! It is one of our cultural hot-buttons. To the Americans out there, don’t get us wrong – it is NOT (usually) anti-Americanism. But we are PROUD of how we are different. Much like point #12, and the boy from Palau who wanted to show Gary how to cross the street, Canadians want the world (and particularly Americans) to know what makes us unique. (For me, it is our cultural mosaic vs. America’s melting pot – which creates a completely different interaction between our diverse peoples. Here in Canada, you don’t see the segregation you see in the US. That, on its own, is a huge difference, and one we are proud of.)

    We feel lost in an identity crisis, bordering the US is like sleeping next to a giant. So, it is reasonable, and natural, for us to celebrate what makes us different, unique, and Canadian.

    As a Canadian who has traveled to 44 countries (and counting!), I will say I do hear a fair amount of anti-Americanism out there. But unlike most people, I challenge it. And I go as far as to use the R word – Racism. People (especially Europeans) find it in-vogue to be anti-American (moreso when Bush was in power.) When I label it as RACISM (which is what it truly is), it’s quite amazing how quickly they hush up. Especially the Germans, being so sensitive to these sorts of issues – their eyes usually go wide when I hold a mirror to what they are spewing out of rote.

    But please, America – grant Canadians their differences. Acknowledge our pride in that which we are proud of. Our similarities are there, and obvious to all – our differences are very near and dear to our hearts. Be sensitive to that – that’s what we ask.

    Cheers!

    Drew

  27. Great post. I would add to the discussion by saying that just because English is understood that doesn’t mean that you just default to it. What’s the fun in that. I can stay home and speak English! In my experience, you get brownie points for any attempt. Immersing yourself in another culture can make all the difference.

  28. Once again another great post. I love traveling around the world. I was in Africa this year and the culture is what makes you want to keep traveling. I agree that everyone should do it. It makes you realize that what you do is that the only or correct way to do it.

  29. Oh no.

    Tim, you have to hide this post or else it will become a rag for annoyed Canucks. Not what you want first-time viewers to experience.

    Three things to know about why Canadians freak out about this:

    1. Much Canadian nationalism, somewhat delusional like all forms of nationalism, is based on A) hockey performances against the Soviet Union in the 20th century B) their ‘multicultural mosaic’ (often cast in opposition to the American melting pot and European segregation) C) more ‘liberal’ social and political institutions than the United States and D) bilingualism. You may see the trend already, but literally EVERY one of those is in large part built on the premise of difference from America.

    2. You can’t extend reflections on certain English Canadians to the whole country, with only the exclusion of Quebec. Anyone from New Brunswick (constitutionally French), Nunavut (constitutionally Inuit) or Newfoundland (closer to Ireland than America) will go nuts, and justifiably so. Toronto and Vancouver, sure, they’ll just fall back on the standard “we’re nicer and more liberal than you” train.

    3. For some reason, backpacking Anglo-Canadians always claim more affinity with Aussies/Kiwis than with Americans. I’ve never seen them deviate from this line. Perhaps it’s the mutual affinity for plentiful beer?

    My father is Canadian, and although Canada is an admittedly wonderful country, they go absolutely INSANE when Americans do anything contrary to Canadians’ sense of self. I’d hide this, or else comments on Barry’s post will start to resemble those on nationalist Youtube videos…

  30. Tim, I am glad to see people on both sides on this topic when it comes to Americans. I am an American and I have lived 20 + years out side of the USA and I am 41. Some people would be amazed at the number of Expats from the USA that are around the world who are solid members of the community they live in. I have lived or spent many months at the major cities from the Middle East, Asia, EU and the Americas. I think most people develop an impression of a country and the people by the number of interactions they have, not what they see or hear from the news. I am often told I am not a normal American in a positive manner. The US has so many things going on that impact the rest of the world and that is a major contribution to why so many people around the world know so much about us. How many people know when Singapore has a new President and Prime Minister? Ignorance is relative to the person and scope of their lives and there is room for everyone to learn and understand. Most people are very respectful and when they are not, chances are, it is a culture issue, not a respect issue. Americans are lucky to have vast amounts of disposable income to afford travels more frequently than other countries. The good and ugly part of this is that we bring a sense of energy, excitement, confidence and willingness to do almost anything with the attitude of trying is the better option than later wishing we had. This sometimes creates embarrassing scenarios but for the majority of the time, bonds are created that last a life time. I literally have a deep friendship with people from 20+ years ago at several countries scattered around the world and I think many of follower’s on this blog do as well. For those events where people spit or make harsh remarks about the USA, just remember, more people immigrate to the USA than any other country in the world. While it is not perfect, for many, it is generally a safe and stable place for a family and a business. The business of pleasing everyone has closed shop.

    I am an explorer by nature and choose to live out of the USA while I am young and fit; no one knows what will happen tomorrow. The world is just awesome and so is your neighborhood. Mutual respect and an understanding that most people are decent are the must tools for successful travelers, everything else is easy.

  31. Tim, I’ve always watched any video you’ve post because I trust your judgement, but I want 10 minutes of my life back.

    The first 6 minutes of your vegetarians vs. meat eaters video was totally non-relevant and the actual talk was cut off after 3 minutes. It felt more like I was listening to a preacher in church than hearing any actual solutions.

  32. Tim, thanks for sharing this great article from Gary. Everything Gary’s learned I can say I, too, have learned in my 30 plus years of traveling. A few months ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Gary in a podcast and have been following his travels closely ever since. And one of the points we talked about, and he reiterates in this article, is that everyone should travel.

    I am constantly preaching this idea because not only does travel expose you to different cultures, but it also teaches you that despite where we come from, we’re not all so different from one another. I’ll be sure to direct my blog readers to your site to read this article. Thanks again for sharing.

    Peggy Goldman

  33. This is such a refreshing post.

    Not only that, but despite the obvious and the simplicity of it, quite insightful.

    I’ve had the chance to travel a little around Europe, USA and Latin America, and can relate to most of the content, with some minor disagreements

    Tim, if you ever plan on visiting Guatemala, let me know!

    btw, What are you studying?

  34. Hi Tim – You are my new mentor. Love the 4 hour work week and have implemented lots of your suggestions. Your ideas keep expanding my mind which feels so cool. Thank you for this thought provoking video from Jonathan and your gentle nudge to view it. I have never even given not eating meat a thought and this video had such a compassionate and powerful message, that I can not not explore my position. Thanks again for challenging me to think outside the box and to dig deep into my heart for what matters to me 🙂

  35. I disagree with #1, not because I think people are generally bad, I don’t think they inherently have either attribute, it is the good and bad actions they do that define them.

  36. I have to say that I smiled when I read some of these lessons, I’ve picked up several of these myself as i travelled:

    People truly are generally good, with all the advice that you’re given about how you’re going to be ripped off while travelling, you’re almost scared to talk to anyone but when you do you have the chance to meet some wonderful people..

    The rest of the world isn’t full of germs – there’s nothing better than a nice bit of street food but if we were hygenically fussy then we’d never have the chance to eat anything but bland hotel food!

    And you can certainly find the internet anywhere, rain-forests, tropical islands and half-way up mountains!

    It all makes travel so much fun!

  37. This is not the first time I have “stumbled” upon this blog, after reading it a second time I am compelled to argue with you, the fact that you have a picture of Ronald McDonald beside Modernization is not Westernization proves ignorance. Also along your travels, have you been to Canada? Honest question as I’m sure if you did you would notice, even after crossing the border for an afternoon of shopping you can tell the difference, with portion sizes, common courtesy and driving habits, not to mention the impact of the media on either culture. I have done my fair share of travelling and the best advice people can pass on is the idea that people are people not nations, you can meet an ignorant person from anywhere, whether they are American or not is irrelevant although there are plenty.

  38. Been a serial traveler my whole life, and I can tell why Gary has such positive experiences in comparison to those saying ‘Americans are/aren’t – whatever’.

    It’s attitude. I’d hate to sound all David Hawkins-ish (I’m lying, I’d love to sound David Hawkins-ish), and incredibly corny – but by being accepting and …ahem…loving, we bring forth the positive side of peoples natures.

    I’m sure if you asked Gary at different points along his long journey, he might have given you different answers – but from the sounds of things he started travelling with an open mind – and it was accepted very easily by those he came in contact with.

    I’m also quite sure that if you receive negative feedback from others due to your race or nationality – 9 times out of 10 it’s going to be a reflection of your own insecurities.

    I agree totally with Gary. All people (not just Americans) are only as ignorant as the media they are subjected to , the media lies, you don’t need a lot of stuff, and in general – humans are pretty freakin awesome.

    Peace.

    T

  39. Well… I’ve traveled a lot all my life. With a lot of americans, and I lived in the US for two years. I lived in Thailand and the Middle East.

    I can say without a doubt Americans are ignorent, they are very ignorent. I love Americans, I love the US. But in the developed world there is no other country where its people know as little as you do about the world outside there own. America has some of the smartest people in the world, but without a doubt also some of the dumbest.

    Also Americans shouldn’t think people dont like them, Not in the middle east. In South Korea they do, thats because your presence there is so strong.

  40. Oh and I’m not ‘proud of where I’m from’, I couldn’t give a shit.

    Im proud of where I am. Not where I’m born.

  41. First, thanks for such a great post. There is a lot of good information for new travelers, but that’s not to say people shouldn’t take this info without a grain of salt. Everyone needs to take the time to learn about the world for themselves. There are some pretty amazing places out there.

    Second, I want to comment on the irony of statements along the lines of “Americans are generally disliked because of their ignorance.” If someone dislikes me because I’m an American, then they are they are the ones being ignorant. Every country I travel to, I go to with an open mind and for every foreign traveler I meet visiting the U.S I accept that they will be different from me, but that’s okay. If other people can’t return that courtesy, then I am certainly not the ignorant one. As many people can attest to from other countries, the will and actions of the government do not necessarily reflect the will and actions of its constituents.

    Third, I’d like to point out that the U.S is a very big place and person could spend a lifetime traveling all over it and still never see everything it has to offer. So, to those of us that live here, it is very important to travel abroad and learn about different cultures, but don’t forget about we have to offer here, too.

    Last thought: To any foreign readers out there, try to remember that the news you hear about the U.S is the news that YOUR newscasters choose to tell you and the same is true for us. I promise you that while you may think you know what America is about, you probably have no idea, just like how I probably don’t know anything about your country. Did you know that my university raised over $7,000,000 for children with pediatric cancer last year? Or did you just hear about the “American war machine” and how “evil” we are on your news? The only way to truly know who we are as a society is to come visit for yourselves.

  42. What happens when you travel most countries and see most cultures? Do you then get a good grasp on life or do you realize no one really has it figured out, and try to pick the similar things to make into one solid worldview?

    Anyone done it?

  43. Great article! However, I’d like to comment the 19th entry, just to make sure that everybody gets it right. I am afraid that people would think the sign on the picture displays the nazy cross when, in fact, well, it doesn’t.

    After studying Japanese and Japanese culture, and travelling to Japan, I found out that they, Japanese, and obviously other Asian countries, use a cross that at first sight looks like as the nazi one to indicate the location of Buddhist temples on maps. But look closer; one is “heading” left and the other one is “heading” right…

    So, in other words, people is that building certainly don’t worship Hitler, but are probably meditating 🙂

  44. BRILLIANT summary! I’ve spent 7 years backpacking around the World going to over 100 countries and I’ve finally found something which captures the spirit of travel.

    Thanks Gary and Tim.

  45. The fact of the matter is, there are ignorant people everywhere you go. On the contrary there are some very intelligent people. I am from the US and I know first hand some very, very smart people who also travel. That ‘comedy’ show that portrays americans as stupid is just adding to the stereotype. When in reality all they are showing you is edited footage of really dumb answers from some dumb people. (YES they exist everywhere in the world! and yes some live in the US) Everyone has different experiences traveling and some people may go through it and meet open minded people whereas others may run into people who ‘hate’ Americans.

  46. Hi,

    I really enjoyed this article. I have to note that from experience you can use English anywhere. Yeah sure it would be crazy to have to learn 35 languages and I am not saying to do so. But why would you want to only speak English? I am only fluent in English and French, however I have learned Spanish enough to be on the radio, Italian, and German…and some key words in other languages. I know it can be really tough sometimes like learning to count in Arabic or Russian but giving people language options have saved my butt many times (time and money). As was mentioned by the author, people are proud of their culture and mother tongue so why not show them you are interested and speak at least a couple words.

    I am glad you have noted that Quebec is much different from the USA. This just how different it is. Our education system is much like the German and French one, however it is compatible with US or out of province univeristies and accessible to international students. In the public system, I have had to learn French, English, and Spanish. There are various jobs offered here and people sometimes choose to have more free time then to make more money. For exemple instead of getting 3x to 5x his salary my family member got to live abroad and keep his job and each years leaves on a journey on average of 2 months. There are a lot of American companies settled in Canada because we will accept cheaper salaries or previously due to the power of the American dollar. Managment inside these branches are quite different than the American ones.

    I also feel that we celebrate art, culture, and food. This is a really important part of our lives and in the end these things shape us as a society.

    I do feel that I can relate to other Canadians out of my province and also with Americans in some parts. I do not think that all US citizens should be labeled as one and neither should Canadians. The US and Canada could be divided into several countries. Its like saying that all Europeans are basically the same. Maybe you just need the right addresses and places to go to when you come here….anyways overall I really liked it and was not offended what so ever…but I have never been mistaken for an American anywhere I have gone. I don’t think it would have been a bad thing but just goes to show that we might not be labelled the same.

  47. Thanks so much for sharing your reflections, Gary. Your post was insightful and inspiring.

    My husband Tim and I (along with our two little girls) are about to embark on a trip across the USA for 1 year. Although it won’t be the same as traveling internationally, I know we’re going to learn a lot about culture, life, love, and what matters most.

    P.S. What exactly DO you carry in that backpack of yours? I’d love to read a post about that too.

  48. Having travelled extensively, I agree with many of these points. Although I have seen a lot of Americans insist that Canadians are the same, it’s not very convincing when it’s delivered in an american accent and american conversational style. I think most Canadians would consider themselves more like New Zealanders than Americans; I’m not sure what the New Zealanders would say about it.

  49. This is a great article. After I graduate from grad school I plan on doing some vagabonding around the world for several years.

  50. As a huge fan of international travel and photography, love your blog. Came across it awhile ago and now I’ll need to check it out again. congrats on living the dream!

  51. I just got back from traveling for two years – thanks for summing up some crucial ideas and concepts here that I’ve learned along the way.

    I’m also Canadian and am dying to talk about my opinion of the world’s view of America or our “similar” cultures, but that seems to be done in excess already here.

    What I do want to point out though, is #19: I’m 99.9% sure that’s a Chinese / Japanese symbol for Buddhism, NOT a Nazi / Neo-Nazi swastika. (Now I realize it wasn’t outright stated that it was a Nazi swastika, but I read it as if it were implied).

  52. Tbh… america aint such a bad place but at the end of the day everyone has there own opinions on everything don’t they?

  53. This is a great post and inspiring!

    I want to travel the world now more than ever!!

    You bring up some great points.

    Keep on keeping on!!

  54. yeaah (: i think travrlling is great. i would love to do it when i am older. (: and i am o inspiered by bear gyrlls. he is amazing and i have met him (:

  55. I like this post, I have to comment on “here is a stereotype that Americans don’t know much about the rest of the world. There is some truth to that, but it isn’t as bad as you might believe. The reason this stereotype exists is because most other countries on Earth pay very close attention to American news and politics”

    I have to say Americans are not cultured people on the whole, and often really don’t know much about other nations, not to stereo type but Americans I have met seem to think they invented everything in the modern world, know little or nothing about major historical events including many American ones. I wonder many times if the schooling is so good in America why do they all come to Cambridge and Oxford? Odd don’t you think.

    Like I said I’m not stereo typing these are my experiences first hand and I am aware that there will be a reverse side to it.

    I met an American solider, within 5 minutes of meeting the guy he was telling me he wanted to fight a British guy, weird I would have thought he would have more tasking things on his mind! he seemed OK in the end but still them types of meetings don’t give a good impression of an average American.

    Great read though, well done you for getting out there in the world.

  56. Traveling overseas, I learned a little about how Americans are stereotyped. While in Colombia, I went with a few Colombian friends to a place that had saunas and also featured a short trail where you were encouraged to walk barefoot to strengthen your feet, so we set out. One of my friends commented that Americans would be likely to have tender feet. Of course, he was the one who wound up cutting his foot on a rock and had to abandon the trail because he was bleeding. I did not rub it in, but of course it became permanently branded into my memory!

  57. This was a really nice article. I especially like #11- this is a great point. I would also add that (not always) but often if you do come across a culture that seems completely ancient it is probably for tourism.

  58. Hi,

    Our family last year took a year out of life. We rented our home out and traveled throughout Asia and Europe – the school our children experienced was the school of experience and adventure. We experienced so much and as a family had a great time, our family also were able to assist in two orphanages whilst travelling. We did not experience any huge problems not speaking other languages whilst visiting other countries and if we came across a problem we usually worked it out by gesturing etc.

    I would like to thank you Tim Ferris for planting this idea for it was after I read The 4 hr Working Week that these plans came about. I also recommend to people that they read your book. The automated business would have been handy to have in place but we managed cheap travel and visited countries that had a good exchange rate to our Australian dollar.

    We have returned but I have changed as a person and want more so that I can give more to others and also continue travelling to places. I love Australia and think that it is the best place in the world, it has made me patriotic and I look around and realize that others don’t appreciate their lifestyle, the political peace and financial wealth of our country. So sad you have to leave your country to really appreciate its attributes.

    Thanks for your book.

    Sonya Goltz

  59. This is a very well written post. Great observations. Very interesting and in many cases, deep.

    Could do without the 2 videos at the bottom, but good reading none-the-less

  60. This post is right on in just about every respect.

    As for how people around the world view us as Americans, I’m convinced we’re generally taken on a “case by case” basis.

    Show me someone who believes Americans are “hated”, and I’ll show you someone who likely travels the world with an attitude of arrogance–as if the local culture and customs don’t matter and that they should be kowtowed to (in perfect English, natch.)

    OTOH, American travelers who are respectful, friendly, culturally curious and tolerant of minor inconvenience will likely find that people all over the world are WONDERFUL.

    One caveat I’d add to the idea of English being the world’s second language is that learning even a few phrases in the native tongue of wherever you’re headed is usually met with much appreciation. It’s as if you’ve made an effort to respect the people, their culture and their country.

    We’ve been through much of the Arab world and countries such as Russia, Palestine and even…gasp…France. We’ve made nothing but friends everywhere we’ve been.

  61. I really like your post, almost all of these facts are true 🙂 Since you traveled a lot for past couple of years, i was wondering have you ever been to Dalmatia?

  62. The swastika symbol in Korea is used to indicate a religious temple.

    I don’t want people thinking Koreans are Nazi lovers.

    Peace

  63. Great post! Thanks for the reminders about the best of traveling. I’ve traveled a lot myself, but I’m most pleased that my kids have now been off on their own adventures after graduating from high school. Do I hope they’ll go to University? Yes, but they are formulating their own visions of the world and of themselves through their travel experiences. That’s an invaluable education. My middle son has been riding his bicycle from B.C. through the United States and is now in Costa Rica. He has a surfboard attached on the side. He has woofed, couchsurfed and volunteered his way down. btw he is traveling with an American and a Canadian who he met along the way. A frenchman was with them for a while, but they left him because his ways with locals embarrassed them.

    On the topic of similarities / differences … I would agree with your statement that “most people are good”. In every country of the world there are also rude, ignorant, selfish or negative citizens. I love the way your post focuses on the positive aspects of all cultures!!! Bravo!

  64. As an 18 year old who left a small town in Pennsylvania to spend a year traveling eastern Europe, I would only add one “lesson” to this (otherwise perfect) article, and that’s that I’v learned that we are all truly lucky to be citizens of this one, beautiful world 🙂

  65. Great post and I can agree with what you said. Especially the myth that people don’t like Americans. I have found that at times some people don’t like the policies but 1/2 of our country doesn’t like the policies and once you begin to engage people and treat them right then it doesn’t really matter where you are from. I have never had a problem anywhere I traveled..

  66. Really nice article. So sad about the Philippines. I am from the Philippines and yes, corruption may exist. But I’ve traveled in other countries and it’s worse out there. As a citizen, I’ve been trying to compaign against it. But the PH is a really nice place to go to. We Filipinos are excellent in communicating in English and we have the best beaches in the world. Nice post. Keep it up!

  67. I’m from Mexico. I lived in England for sometime and about 90% of the people I met, really hated Americans. And people I met in France hated Americans too.

  68. Great read! I always tell people that no one really hates Americans. You occasionally get razzed by snobbish Canadians, but that’s about it. I lived in Vietnam for a year and everyone loves Americans. If for nothing else than curiosity or to practice their English. I never told anyone I was from Canada. Hell I have an American Flag tattooed on my forearm. Girls in Korea and Japan love Americans. If you’re open minded(try anything once), easy going and fun, you’ll make friends everywhere! Nobody holds me personally responsible for American foreign policies!

    The arrogance of the vegetarian annoys me to no end. People who are fortunate enough to have chicken twice a week can’t imagine vegetarianism. I was with an English vegetarian once in Laos and were invited to eat with a local family and when she told them she didn’t eat meat, as they were slicing up a fire roasted goat, they looked at her as if she were an alien. They couldn’t comprehend how a person can choose not to eat something so basic and, such a luxury. She put her nose up as if saying, “I’m a better person for not eating animals.” What a crock.

    As far as governments, the corruption you witness in Asia and South America in outrageous. I paid a cop in Ecuador about $5(15 years ago) to get out of a traffic ticket(running a red light). A girlfriend there told me cops regularly feel up girls. In Korea prostitution is illegal, yet they have big neighborhoods with neon lights where it is advertised.

    Another misconception you didn’t mention was that most Americans think the quality of life is so bad in other countries. If you aren’t homeless on the street, it is actually quite comfortable in many third world countries. But you really realize how little you actually need to be happy. A cheap apartment and a $200 scooter in Saigon, or an air-conditioned hut on the beach in Thailand and a bicycle can bring you much more happiness than a penthouse apartment and 2 cars that you can’t afford in LA,not that I would actually know about the penthouse thing, but probably.

  69. Bryan-

    Prostitution is illegal in Korea.

    The neon signs that you’re writing about are not brothels.

    The places are clubs/bars for men to attend (similar to a strip club), but the girls are fully clothed. There is no prostitution that goes on in these establishments, BUT it’s up to the girl if she leaves with the guy and goes to a hotel/motel.

    These places also exist in Japan.

    The girls sit with one guy, drink, eat with the men, and sing karaoke songs.

    It’s very similar to what a person would think goes on at a house filled with geisha women.

    How do I know? It’s common knowledge in Asian countries.

    A lot of college girls/foreign women work in these places.

    Not all the women leave with the men, but I want to make it absolutely clear that they DO NOT have sex in these places.

    The girls get a bad reputation in Korea because a lot of the women will sleep with the men outside of work, but this does not go on in these places.

    I don’t want people going to my country thinking brothels are all over Korea.

    Let’s try to get past the stereotype that all girls in Asian countries are prostitutes or into American men.

    I think most women are interested in men that are different from their countrymen.

    I think people are always fascinated by anything/anyone that is different from them.

  70. I enjoyed reading this write-up of yours. It seems that you are living the life that I have always dreamed of :).

    Have you been to India in your travels? My home country is most definitely worth a long visit

  71. 6) Americans don’t travel : Definitely agree! I work for a travel agency and Americans are the visitors that we see rarely.

  72. Point 8 – you don’t need a lot of stuff – really resonates well with me. As somebody who has been abroad for 6 consecutive years I’ve come to realize that in a really profound manner.

  73. I have traveled a lot for my age, and have been met with little hatred to American people. I have been all over Africa, and South America, and yet no hatred. I have met many Europeans on my travels, and all of them are extremely nice. Brits and Americans will always have our jokes about language, but no hatred. I have, unfortunately, met with some people that have been extremely condescending and rude to me, because of my American nationality, and they have always been French. Also, the comment about Americans and Canadians being equally the same is true. The writer was trying to comment about the people, and how their customs are virtually the same. It seems people keep bringing up political differences, and that is obviously not what the writer is commenting on. Cheers.

  74. Wow these are all so true! In my travels I’ve come to realize pretty much all the same things. I try to explain this stuff to my family or friends but they just never seem to get it. Thanks! Great Read 🙂

  75. I’m pretty late finding this article, but what a great list! While I don’t agree entirely with all points, the first point I think epitomizes the travel experience and rings true no matter what country I’m in – most people are good most of the time.

  76. Just got back from Machu Picchu and LOVE this post!!! Getting after it and seeing the world is truly living…

    Cheers!

    Patrick

  77. great website you have there! i was wondering just how much money is needed to travel the world? and if it is advisable to work in exchange for a place to stay or food for most countries?

    Thank you!

  78. In our local dialect here in India, we have a saying that “one who travels the most will be wiser than most”. Philosophy apart, in reality, most of our jobs now a days are such that we cant even avail our yearly allotted quota of leaves. So at the maximum, most of us can only hope to get out for a week or 2. I envy what you are doing.. 🙂

  79. Im a Malaysian but currently living and working in Manchester, England. Ive been travelling to almost every country in Europe and still cant get enough of it. I also met a lot of Americans and Canadians travellers along the way. I must say I prefer the Canadians because they are more straight talking and say things as it is. The Americans are too big talkers, superficial and pretentious. I also tend to stay away from the Brits because they can be rowdy when they are abroad. The Continental Europeans are really cool, stylish and friendly. I guess people from different places have different mentalities.

  80. Hi, reading your blog and your book is so inspiring!

    And i wonder, how do i apply this to myself as i am currently working as a personal assistant to a boss, that is always, asking for last minute stuff?

    i really appreciate if anyone can reply and give me some support in this. i do like my job, the only thing is the timing. People seems to spend too much time in meetings and i couldn’t be excused because i need to take minutes, which from my observation, after reading the book, they are really wasting lots of time!! Travelling and living the lifestyle that’s mentioned here, is really really my dream. Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks!

  81. 1) Ok nice post but nothing new, we all know that..

    2) If you think people don’t hate Americas obviously you haven’t been to Europe 😉

  82. Generally everything we perceive is relative to are perception, there really is no “good” or “bad”… for example if someone with a 150 IQ grew up only knowing people who had 170+ IQs they would feel stupid, and likewise if they grew up in mainstream society they’d feel positive, and ahead of the curve… it’s not that one thing is good or bad, it’s all relative to how we compare it to what we’ve perceived in our lives.

  83. I have only been traveling 1/3 of the time you have, but I have to say I have found these to be completely true. I especially have found it challenging but fulfilling to learn to condense my life in terms of ‘stuff.’ We need so much less than we think we do! I know I’m late to the party on this post, but SU brought me here, and I’m glad it did!

  84. I find it so strange that there is seemingly such a small percentage of Americans traveling the world. Most places I’ve been I’ve met more Canadians than Americans, despite the fact that Canada has 1/10th the population.

    Almost every American I know who doesn’t travel beyond their own borders has cited personal safety as the number one reason. It’s too bad. The world really isn’t the scary place their media makes it out to be.

  85. GREAT POST GARY!!! This makes me excited to want to get out and travel the world more. I love seeing pictures of different cultures and their different lifestyles. I look forward to visiting Europe someday as well as Asia.

  86. thankx for your blog it was really easing to hear it from someone who has traveled for so long me and my wife are planning an around the world trek in the coming year thankx for the reassuring blog!

  87. One of the coolest thing about TF’s blog is the introduction of fascinating people we can all learn from. It has always been a dream of mine to just pick up and go. Grab a backpack and a camera with no set destination and just travel. It’s rewarding to hear stories from people who have done just that and i’m excited to look into everything-everywhere.

  88. I would love to take as much time off as you did and just travel the world. Traveling over seas for the first time, experiencing different cultures, different languages, and going to places i have never been before. Sounds like a dream come true.

  89. “Everyone should travel.”

    I could not agree more. And I am urging (if not pleading, haha) everyone to travel. Connect to different kinds of people. Explore. Learn about the worlds outside your world. There is no purer joy than immersing yourself to diverse cultures. It doesn’t have to be as grand as touring five to twenty countries – it doesn’t even have to be just countries we should go to.

    So please, I implore you, get out of your cave and explore!

    And lastly:

    “Many of our ideas for rescuing other countries all depend on them having similar incentives, values and attitudes as people in the West. This is not always true.”

    Agreed. Culture does matter. I give my respect to those who help other nations without having to force their idea of a “better” society.

    And to the writer: What you’ve written there, Mr. Ferriss, are genuine and insightful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.