Top 10 Travel Take Aways
And no I don’t mean fish n’ chips on the beach… though that could be a pretty tasty takeaway about now… (forgive me if food takeaways are just a Kiwi thing).
This month’s travel blog linkup is all about the travel take aways we have, from souvenirs to life lessons, friendships to illness and injuries. It’s a goodie with a few unusual take aways that you may not expect!
1. Strange and unusual souvenirs
Mortar shell vase from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Engraved from something horrible to something beautiful. I purchased this mortar shell vase from the streets of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s a kind reminder of someone who is trying to make a life for himself amongst the war-torn past that Sarajevo experienced. It’s a work of art and a stark reminder of the good and the bad.
2. Souvenirs that cost more to post than they were worth
Metal elephant from Cape Town, South Africa
This beauty was a cheap buy from a local market during my last days in Cape Town, before I flew to Brazil on my epic backpacking adventure home. I figured I’d ship that back with a sleeping bag in an effort to lighten my load…
However, there was a postal strike and my only option was to courier the parcel back to New Zealand. It was my last day and I had no other option because it wouldn’t fit in my bag… less be said, it was the most expensive parcel I’ve ever sent.
3. Souvenirs that never see the light of day
Postcards and shot glasses
I made a habit to buy a shot glass from every country and try to buy a postcard from every city I travelled to. I still don’t have a shot glass from Russia (anyone travelling there please let me know) and for the first time forgot to send my nephews a postcard from Borneo, but my collection still exists and sits away in boxes in my cupboards waiting for inspiration to do something with them.
4. Friendships and travel buddies
International students that I’ve known for a decade now
I’ve stayed good friends with a few students I studied with in Austria and have seen some several times since I left Austria.
My good friend from Lithuania/Sweden and I would end up traveling and meeting somewhere in Europe every year while I lived on that side of the world. It’s safe to say that she is one of my closest friends and it all started as international students that travelled Europe together.
Backpackers that I’ve met up with multiple times
There were the times, particularly in South America, where I’d be travelling somewhere and get to know someone and then a few days or weeks later I’d bump into them again. I’d have dinners with couples after meeting them at a hostel breakfast a few weeks prior. I’d get to know the odd person on a group or day tour and keep in touch, in some cases travel again with them!
It’s an important thing to get out of your comfort zone when you’re travelling alone to talk to other people, because things like this can happen and make your travels so much more interesting!
5. Illnesses and injuries to bring home
Sea urchin spike in my foot
Yep, that piece of work, travelled from the Galapagos, through Colombia, across the San Blas islands to Panama, Costa Rica and to San Fransisco and Yosemite before I returned home and finally got it removed by the doctor (no thanks to travel insurance in this instance that refused to remove it abroad).
Illness that winds you up in hospital and somehow you manage to get well enough to travel/return home.
Then there were times where I ended up in hospital due to viruses or parasites. Each time I somehow got through it safely enough to start eating again just in time to take a long haul flight.
Read more: Travel challenges »
6. Lesson to be a responsible traveller
Seeing/meeting animals and volunteering
There a big take away that I’m sure I’ve mentioned before of trying to be an informed traveller where possible. Once upon a time I would have thought riding elephants in the jungle was fun (not that I ever did that) now I’m horrified that I could have ever thought that.
The list of animals that are tortured for human entertainment goes on and on. I was disgusted on a tour is Russia when the group was encouraged to go to the Moscow Circus. The next day people returned telling me that bears and tigers were chained up and they wish they’d never seen it. I’m glad I didn’t go.
Volunteering is another hard one to consider, you want to do good, but are you really?
Is the money you’re spending going to the animals or children that you’re trying to help?
Or is it going to an extensive ‘administration’?
Will those wild animals ever get released?
Is there enough open space for the animals if they are too tame to be returned to the wild?
Read more: Lessons learned while travelling »
7. This could be your one chance in life to see/do something
Whenever I stop to consider budget or if I want to do something that may seem a bit excessive, I ask myself ‘will I ever get the chance to do this again, or could this be the only time I’m here?’ Yes this has resulted in things like bungee jumping over the Nile in Uganda and seeing both sides of Iguazu Falls and going on a expensive boat tour of the Galapagos.
I don’t regret a single moment.
8. Take time to learn and understand the horrible things that have occurred in the past
Srebrenica and Auschwitz
I travel to learn and experience things that I wouldn’t at home. Visiting war torn and genocide regions is part of this. I feel I owe it to the people that have had their lives taken away and destroyed to understand what happened. To share what I learn. To help prevent anything as horrible as that ever happening again.
Read more: Making a difference while travelling »
9. Take the photo and then appreciate where you are
A good friend stopped me for a moment when I was taking photos and told me just to look. Appreciate where we are. Isn’t this amazing.
As much as I love photography, I don’t travel just to take photos. I make sure I take them when appropriate to share and keep as memories, but ever since that moment, so many years ago, I take time to appreciate the place I’m visiting, the scenery, the smells, the freedom, the culture, life.
Read more: Hidden gems of travelling »
10. Make the most of your time
The biggest travel take away for me is to make the most of your time. We never know when our life will be taken from us and while we can plan for the future and grow ourselves, I believe it’s important to make every moment count.
It won’t hurt to take a bit of extra time to visit something along the way that you wanted to.
It could push your boundaries to do that adventure sport that scares you to death, imagine how proud you’ll feel of yourself afterwards?
Don’t be scared or ashamed to eat at that fancy place alone, it could be the best meal of your life.
Don’t avoid going to a place that you’ve dreamed of just because everyone else is too busy to come, it could change your life forever.
Read more: Pinch me moments to last a lifetime »
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
– Mark Twain
Really enjoyed your post Ngaire and love your photography. The friendship part is so important to me as I rarely buy souvenirs and personal experiences just make me realise just how lucky I am.
Thanks for reading! Yes I agree, over time I’ve brought less and less and made experiences and memories my souvenirs
Nice post and especially agree with taking time to appreciate where you are away from the camera lens. So easy to get caught up with recording a visit that you can forget to experience it.
Yep totally and as a blogger trying to silence the story being written in your head and just enjoy where you are!
I think a lot of people completely miss where they are and what they’re seeing as they are too busy taking selfies and other photos.
Great post! I’m sorry travel insurance didn’t take care of the sea urchin spike.
Me too! Still I’m glad I didn’t let it stop me travelling!
I think this post was really insightful and such a great take on this month’s theme! I love that you include friendship as a travel takeaway. Truly that has been some of the most special travel takeaways I’ve had, and I’m glad someone decided to write about it!
Thanks! Lovely to hear that’s a special takeaway of your travels!
This is a lovely post with lots of information. Definitely agree with the wise words which I have learnt along the way. I have also noticed now I need photos to remember the good times rather than have it all in my head the days before smart phones.
Thanks! Yes photos definitely help with memories!
Loved your experiences Ngaire! My husband and I collect shot glasses and magnets from every country (and sometimes city) that we visit and it is a fun way to create a momento without cluttering our home with so much stuff. I love your ending and cannot agree with it enough – recently I have also started to become mindful about where I am and living in the moment. Great post! #travellinkup
What do you plan to do with all the shot glasses? That’s my biggest issue, but once you’ve gone that far (over 45) you can’t really stop can you?
What a relatable post. In my last travels I ran into a traveller I had met the year before by fate on the street! It’s always so nice to see a friendly face, especially when you’re travelling alone. I also try to live by no 9- Take the photo and then appreciate where you are. It’s hard sometimes when you’re wanting to take the prettiest pictures of the place you’re in though.
It’s awesome when you bump into cool travellers again isn’t! Bit awkward when they’re not the friendliest of people though! Plus I’m shocking remembering names…
I really like this post but can’t believe you left a sea urchin spike in your foot for so long! The elephant is great and, even if it cost a lot to send it, has left you with great memories.
Yer the infamous spike… at least the dozen or so other spikes came out (after a lot of hard work by various friends on the boat)! Yes and do love my elephant so I’m still pleased I got it! Thanks for reading
I’m definitely guilty of a few of the above! (And mmmmmmmmmmm fish & chips!)
Really thoughtful and I am always amazed by how much you have seen and done. Agree with looking then photographing, many people only look through the lens and don’t pause to take in the beauty
It’s amazing the things you pick up along the way while travelling!
Great list! It’s amazing how many nonphysical things we bring home from a trip that impact us; lessons, friends, appreciation, and memories.