100 Ways Travel Has Changed My Life

Would you believe that Kaleidoscopic Wandering is 100 posts old? It’s still a baby in travel blog terms, but in even 100 short posts its tripped around the world, provided advice, been honest and grown more than I ever could have imagined even a few short months ago.

In honor of this 100th post, I wanted to share 100 ways travel has changed my life.

  1. I’ve learned how to speak Swahili.
  2. I don’t mind getting dirty.
  3. I respect hard work.
  4. I have met several travel bloggers who have inspired me to go further and see more.
  5. I quit my Corporate America life knowing there was something better.
  6. I appreciate what it means to have a home.
  7. I recycle more.
  8. I drink tap water knowing many people around the world can’t.
  9. I know how to do laundry by hand.
  10. I’ve proven I can hike high altitudes.
  11. Despite being scared shitless from something (white water rafting in Uganda), I know I have the guts to try it again (Honduras).
  12. I notice colors in the world.
  13. I appreciate the need to take a day off.
  14. I’ve been able to do what I love (write) …
  15. … and I’m paid for it.
  16. I look for challenges.
  17. Last year I made a list of 100 new things I did to make sure I live life to its fullest. This is my second year with this project.
  18. I’ve eaten crocodile, conch, grasshoppers and bat …
  19. … but I’ve become a vegetarian when I’m at home.
  20. I appreciate having my own car …
  21. … but it makes me realize how truly horrible the public transportation system is in the United States.
  22. It’s made me seek out a copy of the Spanish Rosetta Stone program.
  23. I listen to more foreign music than any of my sedentary friends.
  24. I’m more aware of hidden fees.
  25. I feel comfortable sharing dorm-style hostel rooms with strangers.
  26. It makes me realize how small my hometown really was and depresses me to think of those who will probably never leave the state.
  27. Each room in our house is decorated in a way that represents places we’ve been.
  28. I know I can survive in ridiculously dry and dusty conditions.
  29. I seek out world news and think about what it means in my life and in the big picture.
  30. People seek me out for information and advice on when, how and where to travel.
  31. When I was younger, I used to think, “I wish I had her/his life.” Now people say to me, “I wish I had your life.”
  32. My husband and I adopted a dog from Kenya.
  33. I have a savings account exclusively for travel …
  34. … and a frequent flyer card for nearly a dozen airlines …
  35. … and a pet sitter on standby.
  36. I scour maps over breakfast.
  37. I’ve been introduced to countless amazing travel blogs that motivate me to seek out new experiences.
  38. I’ve started reading a variety of brilliant travel-related magazines that aren’t just about fluff.
  39. I think about how my actions affect the planet.
  40. It’s not uncommon for me to have interactions with people on three or four continents in a single day.
  41. I appreciate a long hot shower …
  42. … and home-cooked meals …
  43. … and a comfortable bed more than I ever did before I started traveling.
  44. I now have some understanding of history, which completely confused me as a kid.
  45. I’ve gained a brother by association.
  46. I’ve made some of my closest friends through traveling and writing in the travel industry.
  47. I think about ethics.
  48. I watch more foreign movies.
  49. I have a bucket list that includes countries beyond Europe.
  50. I know where obscure countries are located on a map.
  51. I read guidebooks with an open mind
  52. … and then intentionally shut them and walk in the opposite direction.
  53. It’s made me happier than I’ve ever been.
  54. It’s forced me to become computer literate.
  55. I keep up on travel trends …
  56. … and know the latest in industry gossip.
  57. I’ve been interviewed for articles.
  58. I’ve learned how to take better pictures.
  59. I spend more time focused on details.
  60. I look at travel in my neighborhood as a way of discovering something new.
  61. I’ve learned to pack tighter …
  62. … and smarter
  63. … and always with a scarf or sarong.
  64. I’ve cut my hair short and will probably never grow it long again.
  65. I think a lot about my environmental footprint.
  66. I worry about the state of our national parks.
  67. I appreciate the journey as much as the destination.
  68. I ask why not.
  69. I do things that scare me.
  70. I trust my heart …
  71. … and disregard general logic that keeps society going in the same old straight line.
  72. It’s forced me to learn about social media.
  73. I’ve discovered that places can’t easily be summarized by glossy brochures.
  74. I’ve learned that bathing with baby wipes can go a long way in making me feel clean.
  75. I think I’ve gotten better at letting the little things go …
  76. … but I still get frustrated when it’s late, I’m tired and I’ve been traveling all day long. I guess some things never change, but at least I recognize this about myself now.
  77. I collect beer bottles, coins and coffee bags, but I pass on the postcards and knick-knacks.
  78. I tend to buy monochromatic clothes that match just about everything else I might wear.
  79. I find weekend getaways to be as valuable and important as long vacations.
  80. I’ve become more patient …
  81. … and flexible …
  82. … and forgiving.
  83. It’s taught me the difference between need and want.
  84. It’s helped improve my marriage.
  85. I’ve learned new skills through travel.
  86. I’ve become more athletic.
  87. I’m less dependent on material possessions.
  88. I’ve turned off the TV.
  89. I drink coffee now.
  90. I’ve discovered a lot of really sad things happening around the world …
  91. … but I’ve met a lot of people inspired to make it a better place to live anyway.
  92. I live in the present, not in the past.
  93. It’s forced me to improve my writing skills.
  94. I experience the world with all five senses.
  95. I appreciate the beauty of a mountain …
  96. … and a city skyline.
  97. It’s made me humble.
  98. I realize that stuff does not make people happy.
  99. I know what community means.
  100. It gave me reason to start this blog.
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82 Responses to “100 Ways Travel Has Changed My Life”

    • JoAnna

      Thanks Jen! As I wrote the post, I was almost surprised by what I discovered. Hard to believe that traveling can really have such an impact.

    • JoAnna

      Thanks Gray. As a solo traveler, I’m sure you’ve got a list of your own that would be equally amazing.

    • JoAnna

      I agree! It wasn’t until I started traveling and saw how little other people around the world had that I realized extra things I owned. We really *need* so little in the grand scheme of things.

  1. Trisha Miller

    I love this post! What a great way to get to know you a little bit more….and it’s SO true that traveling expands us in many ways, teaches us about ourselves as much as it does about others, and, as cliche as it sounds, broadens our horizons. You start to see more things as ‘possible’ instead of ‘impossible’, and you learn compassion and tolerance from experience, instead of from lecture.

    • JoAnna

      Thanks Trisha! I learned a lot about myself that I didn’t realize was related to travel as I was writing it.

  2. Leland

    i’m humbled….you’ve given words to a lot of the thoughts and feelings i’ve had about traveling in the past….thanks

    • JoAnna

      Well, it should not come as any surprise that you obviously inspired a love of travel in me during the road trips we took as a kid. Who knew that the greatest education I was getting came from sitting around the campfire, hiking up and down dusty trails, and being dragged to yet another dam tour?

      Funny how it all comes full circle, isn’t it?

  3. Ashley

    That’s wonderful! I especially enjoyed numbers 68-71. Thanks for motivating an aspiring traveller like me!

    • JoAnna

      There’s no reason a person can’t travel. I hope hitting the road inspires you just like it has me.

  4. Akila

    Wonderful list Joanna! I am totally with you on a lot of these, but for me the two that really resonated are:
    #12 – I notice colors in the world.
    #69 – I do things that scare me.
    I would add one more:
    #101 – I appreciate every second with my dogs, my family, and my friends. They are a luxury.

    • JoAnna

      Great addition Akila! As nice as it is to have a pet sitter on standby, I always welcome the opportunity to come home and snuggle with our furry four-leggeds!

  5. Katie Pickard Fawcett

    Your posts and pictures are always inspiring. What a great idea for letting readers know what you’ve learned in travel…it gets me to thinking about what I’ve learned. Time to take inventory…THANKS!

    • JoAnna

      Thanks for stopping by Katie. I always used to travel “just for fun,” but I think I’ve gotten a lot more out of it since I realized how meaningful the experiences really could be. In many ways, I think that makes them more fun than before!

  6. brian

    Fantastic list JoAnna! I think many travelers, long term or not, will find themselves nodding in agreement to something in your list.

    For me #17,30,68,69,85 – I retweet your sarong article for my female followers every once in a while…

    • JoAnna

      I’ve always appreciated your support of Kaleidoscopic Wandering, Brian. I think it definitely speaks volumes of the travel blogging community that so many of us have experienced some form of growth in our travels. It’s nice to know that there are others out there who understand why we do the seemingly crazy things we do sometimes. Regardless of how strange it is to do things that scare us or somehow seem to go against the grain of conventional wisdom, other travelers get where we’re coming from.

  7. Andy Hayes | Sharing Travel Experiences

    Fantastic article and what a way to celebrate post number 100! A top of on your champagne glasses, everyone?

    Joanna, it has been a pleasure to accompany you on the journey thus far, and I look forward to being there at post 200, 300, 400…

    And I also look forward to being one of those fellow travellers that you have met in person.


    Onwards and upwards,

    • JoAnna

      *Raises glass*

      I’m so sorry we missed each other when you were in L.A., but we’ll definitely meet up at TBEX. And don’t worry, I’ll definitely keep pinging you with emails at every step of this crazy journey!

    • JoAnna

      Thanks Abbie! I’m so glad you’ve been a fan, and, of course, one of the people I refer to in #4!

  8. Jill

    Jo, this is a wonderful list. I’m so happy you accomplished #14 & 15 – you’ve had that goal for a long, long time! Your non-judgmental attitude has really helped you appreciate the cultures & people of the world. Of course, #32 is a special favorite! Kisses to Butch Mbwa from me…

    • JoAnna

      It’s been a long time coming, but I’m excited that I can finally say I’m a travel writer!

      Butch Mbwa gave a snuffle in return for your kiss. He’s loving the sunshine and shedding like crazy right now!

  9. Travelogged

    I love this list! 8 & 21 especially speak to me, but really as a travel-lover/blogger they are all relevant. Except that I will never (knowingly!) eat a bat. Conch fritters can be yummy though.

    • JoAnna

      I really wish the U.S. would get into the public transportation scene. A high-speed train across the country would be fantastic!

      As for the bat, I honestly didn’t know at the time. I’m not so sure I would have eaten it knowingly.

  10. Cory

    Congrats, Jo. I am amazingly proud and humbled to be your partner in this adventure. Here is to learning many more things.

    • JoAnna

      You’re my favorite travel partner too. 🙂

      I love the fact that we can share so many awesome experiences together … and, of course, the fact that you put up with my crazy hours, strange travel schedules and weird requests when we travel.

      Thank you, also, for helping me learn how to use my camera so that I can finally take photos that add something to my writing.

  11. Carrie


    Congratulations on your first milestone on Kaleidoscopic Wandering. You’ve led us on an incredible journey over the last 100 posts. Here’s to another 100!

    • JoAnna

      Thanks for stopping by Carrie! I’m looking forward to the future!

  12. Melanie

    Wow! Great list! It’s amazing how you don’t realize how something has impacted you until you sit down and reflect!
    You inspired me to do the same!

    • JoAnna

      I would love to see your list if you write one, Melanie! You’ve been to so many fascinating places … I’m sure you’ve definitely learned a thing or two yourself!

  13. Candice

    “Despite being scared shitless from something (white water rafting in Uganda), I know I have the guts to try it again (Honduras).”

    For some reason, I can’t imagine you being afraid of anything. 🙂 Here’s to another 203203902 posts!

    • JoAnna

      You’d think that’d be the case, wouldn’t you? Actually, that rafting trip in Uganda was particularly brutal (busted ear drum, dislocated jaw). I’d been white water rafting a few other times before, so I knew it could a lot of fun. Luckily Honduras proved me right.

      And I do have a bit of a fear of jumping off of things. I don’t know if bungee jumping is in my future. Did you watch the video of me jumping into the water hole with the rope swing? I barely managed to do that!!

      Thanks for hanging with me during my travel blogging journey. See you 203203902 posts down the road!

    • Candice

      I did not see that video! Where can I find it? And I’m not afraid of the rafting, but I will NEVER bungee jump, hahaha.

  14. Shelley

    What a clever way to celebrate your 100th post, Jo! Like everyone else, I really enjoyed reading this list. It’s been inspiring to watch you build yourself up to the point you’re at now. Kudos.

    Although it has been a few years since I’ve wandered off the continent, many of these items resonated with me from those earlier journeys…and even from the more recent domestic adventures as well (especially #84). Thanks for sharing!

    • JoAnna

      I promise, this is just the beginning of a whole host of adventures I have yet to experience!

      Regarding #84, I’ve got to say that having a husband that loves and appreciates travel as much as I do has been so awesome. It’s amazing to me how strong a relationship can become under the most strained circumstances, and yet it does … and I’m thankful for that.

  15. lakshmi

    congrats..your post has made me realize that travel has changed my life and my way of thinking too..

    • JoAnna

      Thanks for commenting lakshmi. I’m glad my post got you thinking about the effect your travels have had on your life too.

  16. Brooke vs. the World

    Well isn’t this funny! I just wrote down a post idea yesterday of my own JUST LIKE THIS – even most of the ideas listed are the same, ha! Maybe I’ll have to mix mine up a bit before creating something final. Too good – Great list 🙂 Keep up the blogging!

    • JoAnna

      That is funny Brooke! I’m sure no one will hold it against you if you decide to write your own list. I know I won’t, anyway. 🙂

  17. jessiev

    BRAVA, girlfriend. it’s like finding the secret of life, isn’t it? YAHOO!!

    and, i LOVE whitewater rafting!!

    • JoAnna

      Thanks for stopping by jessieev! It is the secret of life! That’s it … bottle it up. I’m going to make a fortune!

      Don’t get me wrong, I still love white water rafting. I just had a freaky experience with it. I will definitely get back in the boat again some day.

  18. Juliane

    Congratulations JoAnna and Kaleidoscopic Wandering! I really enjoyed reading this list. #14, #15, #31 made me smile. #8, #20, #21 #41, #43 made me nod vigorously (actually I was doing this throughout most of the post). And #32, #53, #84 awww. Thanks for sharing– like Andy, I’m looking forward to when you have to tackle the 200 list! 😉

    • JoAnna

      Thanks for your comment Juliane. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I, too, hope you’ll still be a fan when I hit 200 posts!

  19. Rebecca

    #92. I live in the present, not in the past.

    I can identify with a lot of theses but especially this one. Congrats on your 100th post!

    • JoAnna

      Too many people are bogged down with what happened that they don’t even realize what is.

    • JoAnna

      I’m glad you enjoyed it Robin! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read it.

  20. Suzy

    Great list! I love the points of appreciation, the things travel has made you see that you don’t need or want. I wrote a post about that last week. It’s nice to see commonalities in travel writers and how they change. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Selene


    I’ve only visited 13 countries in the world. Most in Europe. Only once as a “tourist,” which was ‘fun’ for a change given the company I had on that trip.

    It has now been years since I’ve left this country. And, as you know, most of that time has involved a lot of being at home. My days are no longer filled with jumping 12 ft waterfalls in a rubber ‘ducky,’ or rappelling 120 ft cliffs, kayaking rivers, hiking up volcanos, sketching famous churches and works of art…

    All of that has formed an inner landscape that deepens my appreciation for the circumstances of my life these days. A home, a puppy, a loving partner… the simple pleasures of a kind of life I thought I never wanted to travel to because I thought I’d loose myself in it. Like getting to comfortable would be the death of me… though it’s funny, in a lot of ways I was more comfortable staring out the windows of a bus to Panama City and having flashes of myself being right where I belonged, watching and witnessing the world, then now, in suburbia, actually living in a HOUSE! And I own a couch! – I’m rambling. I’ve been doing a lot of such thinking lately. I posted a whopper of a comment on another great blog about minimalism. (Think I could’ve chose minimal WORDS in that case – but no.)

    In any case. The value of travel, the way such experiences have changed my life – doing things that scare you… and learning you can. The sights, smells, tastes, sounds… the people, their eyes, their stories… the clearing of the mind that happens when communicating with someone of a different language, when the words and their meanings aren’t taken for granted… when the message must be simplified and you must listen with all of you… Well, it’s invaluable, really.

    And the way you’ve chosen the words you use here in this list… I guess it’s made me more aware of the gifts of perspective I’ve learned through some of my most fascinating adventures… how all of that has helped shape the way I see the colors in my own backyard – now that I have one (well, I don’t own it – but there it is, with such roses blooming you wouldn’t believe).

    I guess it helps me remember that everyday is part of a larger journey. Part of the adventure. Opportunities for witnessing and wonder and learning are here and now.
    To be awake to them… to be riveted in stillness and in movement…

    I don’t know if or how I would know to look for that in spending days at home, tending a home and a garden, my self and my family – if I’d never “gone away,” I might never have learned to see where I am – in this phase of my life or in those to come.

    Thanks so much for the touchstones.

    ~ Selene

    • JoAnna

      Thanks for stopping by to comment!

      I don’t think quantity of travel is nearly as important of quality and what you get out of and learn from the experiences. I also think that when we have profound experiences on the road, those moments stay with us for a long time. That’s why a lot of my habits have changed – why I drink tap water, recycle, don’t own many things.

      Congratulations on the new house!

  22. Lola

    Fantastic post! Once in awhile, we should all step back and take inventory of all the blessings and opportunities in our lives. Then we’d live each day with more long-overdue gratitude.

  23. Emily @ Maiden Voyage

    What a wonderful list! My travel blog is at 81 posts, so I still have a little ways to go before I hit that landmark, but I have also learned so much about myself and the world from my travels. It sounds like you have had some incredible (and life-changing) experiences. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Shannon OD

    Congrats and love the post. I found myself smiling and nodding on so, so many of these points 🙂 Cheers to another hundred posts!

  25. Anil

    I love #53 – congrats on the milestone 🙂

    • JoAnna

      @Lola ~ Thanks for being an inspiration along my journey!

      @Emily ~ You’ll hit 100 before you realize it! Enjoy the ride!

      @Shannon ~ I’ll toast to that! Thanks for reading!

      @Anil ~ I love #53 too. 🙂

  26. jamie

    1) This was a great post! I’m sure it was just as rewarding to write as it was for us to read.
    2) your a sweetheart for replying to everyone’s comments
    3)I found your blog through my friend Meghan, and i’m super excited to read it often. I’m planning my own travel journey in the fall, so i’m sure your trials and tribulations will be helpful!

    Have a good day!

  27. Anna Sherwood

    Amazing list, JoAnna. I love traveling, but at this time in my life I must live through others’ travels. And, it’s good to know about what and where you are. Happy wandering.

    • JoAnna

      @Katie ~ I know you’re super busy, so I really appreciate you stopping by to check out my post. I’m sure you’ve definitely got a few things of your own that you would add.

      @jamie ~ I’m so glad you stopped by for a visit and enjoyed it. Please visit often. I update every Monday and Thursday.

      @Anna ~ How great to hear from you! I hope you and your family are doing well.

  28. Migration Mark

    Awesome list and love that you learned Ki Swahili. Great accomplishments, keep on doing it!

    • JoAnna

      @Migration Mark ~ I still like to speak Swahili – it’s such a beautiful language! I do need to brush up on my verbs, though.

      @Nancy ~ I think so too, which is part of the reason why I do them! Thanks for stopping by to comment. I know you’ve been busy but really appreciate your thoughts.

  29. Nancy

    What a great list (and cool idea). One could live on #69 and #70 alone!

  30. GotPassport

    Congrats.. and keep going. you’ve inspired us to make a list for ourselves as well!

    • JoAnna

      @GotPassport ~ I would love to see your list! Let me know when you post it!

  31. Lauren

    I want to print this out, blow it up, and hang it on my wall. Love it. Thanks!

  32. @Travelwriticus

    Interesting stuff. Very helpful for people who need a kind of motivation for more travelling.

  33. Ayngelina

    What a great post, I discovered so many of these things, especially #4 and #98.

  34. Bethany

    So true. This article made me itch for a new trip. Here’s to all the possibilities of adventure in 2011!

    • JoAnna

      You know, I really didn’t, but now that I read over the list again, I see there are some similar reasons noted. That said, I could probably list another 100 reasons.

  35. Anthony StClair

    And some folks question what value travel has 🙂 It’s all about learning about yourself, learning about the world, seeing where and how you can grow, figuring out where your comfort zones are and how to push beyond them.

    As for me, travel showed me where I could live (grew up in Virginia, moved to Oregon when I was in my 20s), that the world was bigger and more varied than I’d ever realized, and that beer could actually taste good.

    Your post makes want to sit down and come up with my own list of 100… and put more pins in the map for where to go next!

    • JoAnna

      “…and that beer actually tasted good.” – For me, it was coffee. 🙂

  36. Sheldon Christensen

    Incredible list. Reading through your list has reminded me of things that I have and enjoy, but easily forget about.

    Two years ago I took a trip to Haiti after the earthquake to help out for a little less than two weeks. Of all my trips I feel like that was the place that I learned to appreciate the most as well as learned the most about so many topics. I learned about government, environment, economy, politics, religion, and so much more. Your shower comment reminded me of the bucket showers we took each night. Only had electricity once while I was there.

    I also feel like I learn more as I visit more countries. Visiting a new country reminds me of things that I’ve previously learned about and forgotten, as well as teaches me new things.

    • JoAnna

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Sheldon. I imagine your trip to Haiti is one that you’ll never forget ~ what an experience!



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