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In traveling around the world, I have learned an awful lot, but here are 99 lessons that I think will stick with me:

  1. The world is huge. I mean, really, really huge. Bigger than our minds can imagine.
  2. The more we see, the more we want to see.
  3. Potato chips are sold everywhere.
  4. Ham and cheese flavored potato chips tastes just like a ham and cheese sandwich.
  5. Quality of the internet has no correlation to socioeconomic status of a country.
  6. A two-minute train connection is possible in Japan.
  7. A forty-five minute train connection is not possible in China.
  8. Thailand is the Land of a Thousand Smiles.
  9. We are braver and stronger than we expected.
  10. We are weaker and dumber than we expected.
  11. My dogs, Angel and Bella are my hearts and souls. I can’t live without them.
  12. Squat toilets are more hygienic than Western-style toilets in public restrooms.
  13. The towel is the most useful piece of gear for a backpacker.
  14. Tofu is amazing.
  15. Nothing causes a traffic jam quite like a cow in the middle of a busy Indian street.
  16. There is a whole beautiful world beneath the waves.
  17. Kids are kids everywhere.
  18. Waving at kids by the side of the street never gets boring.
  19. The cruelty of a few can ruin the lives of the many.
  20. But, the vast, vast majority of people are good.
  21. Wearing the same two pairs of pants week after week isn’t as bad as it sounds (unless you choose not to wash them.)
  22. Laundry sucks. Always. Laundry always sucks (unless you have a partner to do it for you.)
  23. If you want to get to know the local people, sit on a local bus with cigarette smoke in your hair and chickens under your feet.
  24. Things disappear in the mind but memories of moments linger.
  25. “Close” in New Zealand is about a thirty minute longer walk than “close” in the United States.
  1. It is entirely possible to take too many photos.
  2. When traveling, expect plans to change.
  3. It is okay to not see everything and do everything.
  4. Sometimes, you need to take a vacation from your travels and just do nothing.
  5. It is entirely normal to feel like you are in a life-sized MarioKart game when sitting in the back of a tuk-tuk weaving through traffic.
  6. Our parents are more awesome, encouraging, and open-minded than we have ever given them credit for before.
  7. Amazingly, bored is something I never experience when traveling.
  8. I am terrible at accents but I try anyway.
  9. I am a celebrity in Asia; I’ve taken more pictures with other Asian tourists than I can remember.
  10. Sleep and a good meal can cure an otherwise horrible day.
  11. When all else fails, a meal is never further than the nearest convenience store.
  12. Food is the great uniter. Everyone, everywhere, eats.
  13. Language is the great divider. But, smiles and hand signals can usually get you what you need.
  14. If you don’t drink beer, don’t bother drinking alcohol at all in Southeast Asia.
  15. You haven’t really eaten Chinese food unless you’ve eaten it in China.
  16. Not all guidebooks are created equal.
  17. Luxury and poverty are relative terms.
  18. Having an en-suite bathroom is a luxury.
  19. Being able to drink pure clean tap water is decadent.
  20. Never leave home without toilet paper, especially in Asia.
  21. New Zealand may be the most beautiful country in the world.
  22. French fries laid on top of lasagna is considered an acceptable meal in Australia.
  23. Grilled kangaroo tail is as unappetizing as it sounds.
  24. Koalas are even cuter than you think they are.
  25. Florida beaches are more beautiful than those in Thailand and Australia.
  1. Our homeland is as unique as those places we fawn over in travel blogs and magazines.
  2. You can’t boast that you’ll eat anything until you’ve been offered fried cockroaches on the streets of Chiang Mai.
  3. You can’t boast that nothing’s too spicy until you visit a chile-laden restaurant in South Korea.
  4. Television watching reduces by orders of magnitude when traveling but you won’t even miss it.
  5. It is possible to travel the world as a vegetarian and not starve.
  6. Street markets should be required stops for every traveler who wants to eat good food.
  7. Pantene Pro-V is the hair product of choice across the world.
  8. There are truly and really 1.3 billion people in China. That’s a heck of a lot of people.
  9. The fastest way to get from Point A to Point B is not always as obvious as it seems.
  10. The fastest way to get from Point A to Point B is often not the most interesting.
  11. The cost of sunscreen has a direct correlation with how much you will need it.
  12. The golden rule of restaurant choice generally holds true: the less people in the restaurant, the less delicious the food.
  13. Siem Reap is not representative of Cambodia just as Las Vegas is not representative of the United States.
  14. Necessity is the mother of invention.
  15. Meeting other travelers can be as fun and informative as meeting the local people.
  16. Contrary to popular belief, Americans travel to nearly every country in the world.
  17. But, Americans travel for less time or to fewer places than those travelers from Europe and Australia.
  18. Two weeks is not enough vacation time.
  19. Portable chairs in China are not weight-tested for American males.
  20. The Great Barrier Reef is as great as everyone says.
  21. Gazing at the Milky Way makes you feel both insignificant and important in this universe.
  22. Your life is what you decide it is going to be.
  23. That is because there are as many ways to live a life as there are people in the world.
  24. And, most every lifestyle is equally valid as long as that person is happy.
  25. American marshmallows are hands-down the best marshmallows in the world.
  1. Getting your partner to go to the dentist is like pulling teeth.
  2. No matter how geeky we think we are, there are people so much geekier than us.
  3. Despite thirty years of research and innumerable ad campaigns, this is still a smokers’ world.
  4. There are things more important than traveling; there are reasons to come home.
  5. While doing as the locals do will help enrich your travels, urinating on the side of the street is not a necessary requirement.
  6. Skype proves the axiom that the simplest solution is often the best.
  7. Cell phones, the internet, and television shrink the world.
  8. But, visiting a place and meeting people expands your world and theirs.
  9. Keep your temper in Thailand . . . and, for that matter, the rest of the world.
  10. The true meaning of bat out of hell is a baby lamb waiting to be fed.
  11. It is not possible to sleep late in Cambodia or Thailand because if the roosters don’t wake you, the monks ringing the temple bells will.
  12. Wooden toads are the most annoying souvenirs ever created.
  13. Australian security thinks decorative boomerangs can be used to take over a plane.
  14. Traveling and making money are not mutually exclusive.
  15. Jumping into canyons is way more fun than it sounds.
  16. The deliciousness of American fast food restaurants is proportional to the distance away from their home location.
  17. Despite its demise in the United States, Kentucky Fried Chicken is the king of fast food across the world.
  18. Locking suitcases and computer equipment makes good sense whether staying in a five star hotel or a basic backpackers.
  19. Racial diversity is more rare than you might think.
  20. Racial diversity does not always mean racial integration.
  21. International politics is more complicated than any newspaper makes it out to be.
  22. Believing in peace, kindness, and resiliency is not naïve or hopeless.
  23. It is a lot easier to come up with 99 lessons learned than 100 lessons learned.
  24. And, last but certainly not least: The world is a good place and there are good people here.  Including you.