How World Travel Changes You (+Travel Resources)

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I love the word wanderlust.

It’s defined as a strong longing for wandering or travel. 

To want to explore the unknown and taste the feeling of no boundaries.

If you’ve ever felt wanderlust or done any extended travel you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. 

You could even argue that this longing is a natural part of being human whether it’s applied to travel or just seeking to live a better, more fulfilling life than your current experience.  

In this post, I wanted to share some of my travel experiences, how these experiences changed my life forever, and some other travel notes. 

Where I’ve Been

I’ve been fortunate to have a few travel experiences in my life including a few extended periods of world travel.

Travel and exploration really started in my childhood when I played competitive baseball and would travel mainly around some of the US as well as up and down the coast of California.

I’ve always enjoyed exploring new places whether it was in my backyard, locally, nationally, or in different places around the world. 

There is something about venturing into the unknown that’s exciting and also scary at the same time.

Here is a list of the few places I’ve been to:

  • Most of the US states besides the upper north (North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana)
  • Costa Rica
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • China
  • Japan
  • Mexico

My Experiences

Personally, I think that traveling is only as impactful as the experiences you have and to the extent you really get to know the places you visit and immerse yourself in the culture.

You can travel to a lot of places but never really experience any of them fully if you are constantly involved in tourist activities or distracted in your own world.

That’s why personally I’d rather do fewer longer trips for a certain purpose or interest than a bunch of short trips that are filled with tourist activities.

I’ve always been the person who wants to sit on the streets in Vietnam with the local people, meditate in the monasteries with monks, surf different beaches, learn the local plants with a traditional medicine man, or just get lost on the streets in a foreign land and figure out how to survive.

I like learning about different spiritual traditions, art, architecture, food, governments, economies, plants, and how people live their lives.  

I believe one of the most amazing things about living on this earth is the diversity of cultures, people, traditions, natural environments, cooking, ways of living, and the different expressions of life around the world.

Below I’ll go into a little detail about my most impactful travel excursions.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica was my first real trip abroad and because of that reason, it was magical. 

I enjoy surfing and had heard from numerous people that Costa Rica was awesome so I decided to find a surf resort that I could stay at and learn to improve my skills while surfing with the locals. 

I grew up near the beach but never really got into surfing when I was younger because my life was consumed with baseball. 

It was something I always wanted to try out and after college when I had some free time I started to learn by going with a few friends who had been surfing all their life.

So at this time in my life, I had just been laid off from my first real job and was working on trying to grow an online business. I had some savings and enough free time to schedule a 2-week trip to surf in Costa Rica.

I was freaking stoked!

I booked my stay at Witches Rock Surf Camp in Tamarindo.

It looked like a cool little surf resort where I could improve my skills and also see some of the beauty of Costa Rica while getting my first taste of traveling abroad.

For anyone who remembers their first trip abroad, it’s nothing but pure magic. And for me, I was also definitely a little bit nervous but very excited.

When the plane lands in a foreign country where you don’t know anyone, the people speak a different language, and the surroundings look and smell nothing like what you’re used to in your home country, it feels like being reborn.

It opens up your mind, sparks your curiosity, and ignites an excitement in your being that is indescribable. 

I remember landing at the Liberia airport and finding my shuttle to Tamarindo. The shuttle driver was a really nice Costa Rican guy who drove people to and from the airport to the surf school.

Monrique and me about to shred 🙂

The ride to the school was straight through the Costa Rican countryside so I spent the whole hour-long car ride looking at the land around me.

How beautiful, undeveloped, and serene the land was in Costa Rica.

For the rest of the 2-week stay, I found myself in a small little room about a 5-minute walk away from the beach and the surf school where I would walk to each morning. 

In the mornings I would surf with the local instructors and in my free time, I would explore the town on foot trying out different restaurants and occasionally hitting up the local nightclubs.

I met some cool people from both Costa Rica and other Western countries and I had a blast surfing, ziplining, exploring the surrounding city, eating dinner with friends, walking the beaches, and dancing at a local nightclub.

For my first trip abroad, although the area was a little bit touristy, it was definitely a perfect destination and I was stoked to improve my surfing skills and explore the local beaches. 

Thailand & SE Asia

My most extensive and impactful travel abroad excursions were to South East Asia and I spent the majority of my time living in Thailand.

I mainly lived in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and the Thai islands.

I did two long-term trips to Thailand and South East Asia. On the first trip, I lived there for 9 months and on the second trip, I lived there for 6 months. 

I applied for multiple-entry tourist visas each time I went.

Excited when I received my visa by mail!

Looking back on my time spent in Thailand and South Asian countries now, I would never really be the same after my first time living there. 

The culture, people, cities, food, friends, and atmosphere had a profound impact on my life and the way I view the world. 

I’m very grateful I had the opportunity to live in Asia. It’s an amazing region of the world.

Below I’ll go into detail about some of the main events from my time living there.

Working On An Online Business

My desk at the coworking space

One of the main reasons I decided to move to and live in Thailand for over a year was because a lot of digital nomads (people who work on their computers while traveling) had rated Thailand as one of the best places to live and work.

At this time I was growing an online business so it was a perfect place to live cheaply and work on that while meeting new friends who were doing similar work.

The cost of living is very cheap, there is fast internet, it’s safe and beautiful, and there is an awesome community of remote workers who congregate there.

Business talks at the Nomad Coffee Club

I paid about $400 a month for a nice one-bedroom apartment in the city and usually spent around $1500-$2000 a month total on expenses.

I would honestly say that the best thing about my time living in Thailand was the friends I met and the lifestyle I was able to afford on a very small budget. 

I got a couple of Thai massages each week, had a motorbike that I’d ride around the city and countryside, explored the nightlife and traditions, and met plenty of awesome friends who I could hang out with.

I get feelings of nostalgia and excitement just thinking about my time spent living in Thailand. It was really a magical time in my life.

Not to mention I was able to work with and learn from some smart online workers to grow my business which is one of the main reasons I wanted to live there for a while.

Motorbike Rides

While I lived in Thailand I rented a motorbike which I paid around $50 a month to use and the cost of gas to fill up the tank was around $5.

Riding a motorbike is somewhat dangerous in Asia but I was willing to take my chances for the benefits it offered. And boy was it a blast.

My first time riding on the highway I missed the exit I was supposed to get off on and ended up driving about 5 miles outside of town because there was no way to turn around and head back to the city. 

What a thrill for the first time learning to ride a motorbike!

After a bit, like anything, you get used to the natural flow of traffic and the city. It was fun sometimes cutting in and out of cars but you really have to be careful and focused if you do this.

Some of the best times I had with friends were going on 4-8 hour motorbike rides into the surrounding cities and countryside throughout northern Thailand. 

We would ride on winding roads throughout the Thai jungle, up and down mountains, and explore primitive areas where people lived off of the land. It was an absolute blast.

I’ll never forget the motorbike rides I did with friends I met including Ben, Taran, and Andy.

I especially enjoyed the trips with Ben where we would plan out a half-day route and stop along the way to eat at a roadside food stall or local coffee shop.

Overall, I had one minor accident where I scraped up my leg and a few tickets that I was able to pay off. 

I would say the price of admission was well worth the fun that I had. 


One of my favorite things about Thailand was Thai culture. This included the Buddhist temples, the amazing night markets, cheap Thai massage, the cuisine, and the warm friendly spirit of the local Thai people.

They call Thailand the land of smiles and it definitely owns up to its name. 

There is still a good sense of local community in Thailand that is seen in the night markets, traditional music, nightlife, Buddhist spiritual tradition, art, and architecture. 

Compared to the US, I always really enjoyed the local vibes in Thailand because it felt much more connected and easy to get involved in the local community.

You could hop on a motorbike and go hang out in the town with friends because there was always something going on close by that was easy and affordable to access.

This is compared to the US where it feels much more separated. There are fewer local events that people gather at, it’s more expensive to do things, most people need cars to get from a to b, and in general, it feels sometimes that there is less emphasis on community. 

I really enjoyed this aspect of Thai culture.


A highlight of my time living in Asia was all the friends I met. I was able to make friends with people from all parts of the world including Australia, Thailand, Italy, the US, Burma, Laos, China, Japan, Singapore, Hungary, UK, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, India, Korea, and many other parts of the world.

It was really great getting to know people from different areas of the world because you can learn something from each person and you also realize how people around the world are all the same.

I would say this experience of hanging out with people from all areas of the world really changed me in a positive way because it allowed me to drop the delusion of separateness that governments create in each country.

It was also easy to make friends living out there because when you are a foreigner all of the travelers and remote workers are open to getting together and meeting up.

I really enjoyed this because sometimes I have a hard time making friends in my home city life due to the fact that I’m naturally introverted and it takes way more effort to meet people with common interests.

Dating & Nightlife

Bangkok is wild at night

I did my fair share of dating and exploring the nightlife with friends in Asia as well. 

Compared to the US this scene is also very different. 

It’s much cheaper and less formal. You can ride a tuk-tuk or Grab to the bars very inexpensively and there is plenty of stuff going on.

I also met some really lovely and pretty Thai girls. I think that Thai and Asian girls are gorgeous and this attraction to Asian features also grew while living in Thailand.

One thing that I noticed clearly compared to dating girls in the US is that Thai girls are much less needy and self-centered. I really enjoyed dating girls like this because there wasn’t as much emphasis on status, money, or what you can do for them. 

This really showed me how materialistic and self-centered a lot of girls can be in western countries. Obviously, not all girls are like that but I have found that on average women in the US and western countries are much more demanding than girls in Asia.

Visa Trips to Surrounding Countries

Street life in Vietnam

As I spent the majority of my time living in Thailand I would also do trips to some of the surrounding countries when it was time for a visa run.

Usually about every 3 months I would do a 2 week trip to a surrounding country to check it out.

I ended up traveling to Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam for a number of weeks each time.

I would say that Vietnam provided the biggest culture shock and Singapore and Malaysia were both very fun to explore.

In Vietnam, the motorbike scene is even crazier as the streets are absolutely packed and the local way of life in Northern Vietnam is very raw as people sit on stools to eat street food.

On the other hand, Singapore was a very modern and futuristic city with excellent public transportation, lots of business buildings, modern technology, and robust infrastructure.

I enjoyed exploring other South East Asian countries while living there.


Lastly, the Buddhist spiritual tradition and temples in Asia had a very big impact on me and how I view the world.

I really relate to the Buddhist teachings personally and also practice meditation.

I found that most of what the Buddhists talk about is true if you take a scientific approach to exploring yourself and your mind.

I enjoyed checking out the numerous temples around the countries and even did a fair amount of sitting meditation with monks while living in Asia.

I had some pretty profound spiritual experiences while meditating in Koh Lanta, Thailand.

After meditation

These experiences changed my view of spiritual traditions and religions in general, helping me to understand that they are all very similar even though each tradition has different approaches to ethics, practice, philosophy, metaphysics, and world beliefs. 

My experiences and understanding of Buddhism allowed me to have a more diverse view of spiritual traditions and a less fundamentalist ideology. 

Learn more about my meditation experience here.

How Travel Changes You

Traveling the world or even to other parts of the country you live in can have a pretty big impact on your mind and worldview.

For me, I felt that living in foreign countries really opened my mind in a good way. 

I was able to realize how people all around the world are exactly the same. We all want love, shelter, food, friends, and are doing the best we can with the life circumstances we are given.

Life has its struggles and joys all across the world in each place.

It also opens your heart and deepens your connection around the world. Once you experience one good friendship with someone from a country far away from yours you can never look at world events the same.

They affect you on a deeper level emotionally, and an ideology or expression that was once acceptable can’t be acceptable anymore because you have real connections with people from around the world.

When I was able to step outside of the country I grew up in and look at it from an outside perspective free of social conditioning I was able to see more clearly the positives and negatives that it contains.

Sadly, sometimes governments and political ideologies try to brainwash people into believing that your country is far superior to everyone else and that everything outside of your country or political party is unsafe or less satisfactory.

This causes a lot of division and self-centered world politics that perpetuates the sense of separation in the world between people.

In reality, we should appreciate everything that our country has to offer but also keep a loving and connected view of the world.

You also learn that there are other ways of living and structuring a society which are just as good if not better in some regards to what your home country does.

You learn to be less dogmatic, more open and loving towards others, and more flexible in the way you view the world.  

Living outside of your home country or state for a period of time often alters your mind in the sense that it breaks through the social conditioning delusions that have been created by the systems you come from.

It allows for more creativity and flexibility of mind. 

After my first extended trip to Asia or even my trip to Costa Rica, I would never see the world the same again.

The Paradox of Travel

Traveling, like everything else in life if looked at from a broader perspective can be quite paradoxical. 

You leave your familiar surroundings to explore, learn, and grow as you experience the beauty of the world.

You face fear, uncertainty, and the unknown of life in new places.

“Travel isn’t always pretty. You go away, you learn, you get scarred, marked, changed in the process.” -Anthony Bourdain

Then after a certain time period of living away from home, you either end up returning to where you are from or creating a new home in another place.

Either way, you usually end up venturing out to find yourself right back where you started. 

With yourself and your own personal idiosyncrasies. With your own mind and perceptions.

After enough time abroad, you also begin to realize that while travel is awesome and life-changing, you always have yourself and everything you need right where you are, no matter where that is.

List of Places I’d Like to Go

As anyone who has experienced wanderlust knows, the experience of traveling opens up an interest to explore more places.

Once you explore a new place like South East Asia and discover how amazing and different it is, you want to explore many other places around the world as well if you get the chance in life.

Below is a list of places I’d like to go if I have the opportunity and feel the interest to venture out again at some point. Bolded places are higher in interest.

South America

  • Peru
  • Argentina
  • Colombia
  • Belize
  • Chile
  • Brazil


  • Morocco
  • Madagascar
  • Tanzania
  • South Africa


  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • France
  • Italy
  • Greece
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Hungary
  • Sweden
  • Monaco
  • Switzerland
  • Netherlands
  • UK

Middle East

  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • UAE (Dubai)
  • Iran


  • Japan
  • India
  • Nepal
  • Sri Lanka
  • Taiwan
  • South Korea
  • Indonesia


  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Mongolia

As of now, I have the most interest in doing a few longer-term trips where I have specific interests.

  • Visiting or living in Japan for a few months and doing a tea ceremony, visiting Zen monasteries, and exploring the high tech nightlife
  • Doing a trip to South America including visiting the Amazon, Machu Picchu, and other parts of Peru where I could learn about the local plant medicines 
  • Living for a period of time in India practicing Yoga and Meditating at a few ashrams in the Himalayas
  • Doing a Eurotrip where I would bounce around to a few of the countries on my list as well as Morocco since it’s pretty close
  • Lastly, exploring a few parts of the middle east including Israel, Iran, and Egypt to check out some of the historical sites and way of life 

I’ve also looked into the Trans-Siberian railroad trip which goes all the way from London to China by train, stopping at many of the countries along the way. 

That would be a hell of an adventure!

There is a cool website called seat61 that details all the train routes that people can travel across the world.

Traveling by train can allow you to see views of the land and is an alternative option for people who don’t like flying all the time.

Other Resources & Inspiration for Traveling

When wanderlust for adventure hits there’s nothing better than resources that can add to the fun. Below are a few of my favorite travel resources.

Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown TV Series

I usually will watch Bourdain’s episode of the place I’m traveling to beforehand to get excited and often turn on the other episodes when I want to relax and learn more about countries around the world that might be cool to check out.

You can find the whole series for purchase on Youtube.

Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

This is definitely my favorite book about long-term world travel. It’s a guidebook to living cheap, backpacking, and exploring countries around the world on an affordable budget.

It’s also a great book on life philosophy. I read it before I left for my time in Asia as well as on the plane ride there. 

It shows how if you really want to travel there is nothing holding you back. The fears and concerns you have are normal, but most of the time they are not true and can be mitigated with proper research.

Plenty of people have done world travel with kids or in the middle of their lives. There’s no reason to wait until your are old or retired if you want to go.

I’d highly recommend reading Vagabonding if you’re interested in long-term travel.

The Man in Seat 61

The Man in Seat 61 is an awesome website that contains tons of information on how to travel the world by train. 

If you’re someone who likes to see the land while traveling and doesn’t love flying then this website is a gold mine to check out.

If you have the time and interest you can always plan your trips so that your overseas travel routes are by plane but then your country to country travel routes are by train.


I couldn’t make this list without including Airbnb. When you’re traveling to places for a shorter amount of time (within the month range) using Airbnb to find affordable places to stay is a great tool. I used it each time I traveled to an Asian country for 2 weeks.

Rick Steves Europe

Rick Steves is a famous travel content creator and has a ton of experience traveling to all the areas of Europe. I’ve enjoyed watching some of his episodes in Europe and other places around the world and I think he does a great job.

Check out Rick Steves Content

Lonely Planet Guidebooks

Lonely Planet has some awesome travel guidebooks and resources to check out if you’re going to spend a long enough amount of time in any one region of the world.

Reading a guidebook before you go can be helpful if you are looking to plan your explorations but at the same time it’s also fun to just let the travel experience unfold as it does without any planning.


I used NomadList when checking out places I wanted to go to where I could work and find other people to meet up with who were also working remotely. It’s an awesome resource for people who are considered “digital nomads” who are working and living remotely.

Drew Binsky Channel

Drew has some cool content and he has traveled to all 197 countries around the world! 

What an inspiration that he has been able to make it to each country around the world at such a young age. Check out his channel for some inspiring and interesting travel content.

Concluding Thoughts

Traveling the world or your home country is a beautiful thing.

Travel has a way of sparking excitement, refreshing our minds, and allowing us to experience the wonders of this world we live in.

It allows us a chance to step out of our normal life routines and view the world from a different perspective.

It’s a great antidote for times of stuckness or stagnation.

It shows us that while each place has its own unique culture, systems, and land, at the end of the day everyone is just trying to live the best life they can with the circumstances they are given.

Also, it’s important to note that not everyone can or even wants to travel. That’s perfectly cool too because the reality is, we can experience the same joy and beauty right where we are currently.

It’s always available to us.

Personally, I’ve been fortunate to have a few awesome travel experiences and I plan on doing a few more in the future as well if I’m able.

While travel isn’t necessary, I do think it’s something that can have a very positive life-changing impact and I would encourage anyone who is interested to make it happen. 

Photo of author


Josh is a writer and entrepreneur who runs a small digital content publishing business. His main interests are in topics related to developing personal and financial freedom. When not working he enjoys reading, yoga, surfing, being outdoors, meditating, exploring, and hanging with friends.