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I finally took a flight again over Memorial Day. It was only a domestic flight and it got me thinking about my last international trip. Over the past few months the PWaC crew has been sharing their past travel experiences and future travel plans post-Coronavirus. I recently asked the team about some of their past international trips including their first and most surprising. Here is what they said.

What was your first international trip? What did you learn?

Chuck Powell, Author– My first real one was accompanying my now-wife to Seoul, South Korea. I learned how much I love traveling to new, unfamiliar places, and how much I adore Seoul…which is why I live there now part-time!

Dan Miller, PWAC Founder– My first international trip was also one that we had planned without our kids for 9 days in Europe. However, the trip didn’t exactly start out as planned as I wrote about here.

Ross Loehr, Author– As a kid my family would do cross country RV trips every year. We’d go to Maine or out west stopping all along the way. On most of those trips we would cross the border into Mexico to visit some of the border towns. It was such an amazing experience as a youngster to be in the markets, eating street food, listening to the music and hearing a different language. It helped me realize that there is a lot more out there than you initially realize and that it awesome to visit new places.

Cam Hadfield, Author– 18 days in Peru! We toured the whole Southern half of the country, some on our own, some through PeruHop. The hit list in order was Lima > Cusco > Ollantaytambo > Machu Picchu/Aguas Calientes > Arequipa > Huacachina > Paracas > Lima. It was really my first experience internationally traveling, and it left a big impact on me. We volunteered for a week in Cusco with Maximo Nivel, and the whole trip was great! I definitely learned how to think on my feet (when we almost missed a bus, when our luggage was locked up, when my girlfriend got food poisoning.). I know it sounds a bit cliché, but I learned to trust the trip, the world, the people, whatever you want to call it. Note, this trust doesn’t negate common sense!

Dan Kline, Editor– I went on hockey exchanges to Canada a lot as a kid. You learn that language barriers don’t matter when everyone likes hockey.

What was the most surprising destination you have visited and why?

Chuck– Our first trip to Amsterdam, which is now our favorite city-where-we-don’t-live. Spending a day at the Kuekenhof Tulip Festival was pure magic, and the city is filled with amazing museums and parks. Plus, the food and beer were excellent. We also met so many wonderful locals and fellow travelers. We had no idea it would be so great, we just thought it would be a pretty good place to experience Europe for the first time.

Cam– I truly loved Cusco. It’s probably a combination of a few things: first time truly internationally traveling, the volunteer work, the food, the people, the history. Besides, Cusco just had this…feeling to it. I know I have to go back some day!

Ross- China. So many things about the country blew my mind like watching kids in crotchless pants poop in the streets, the Great Wall, the crowds and smog in the cities, animal markets, hutongs, friendliness of the people, difficulty of communicating outside major cities (I don’t speak Chinese), beautiful countryside and countless requests to have our pictures taken. I’m not sure what I expected but it was without a doubt an interesting experience.

Dan K.– I had no idea how green Haiti is. Admittedly, the Royal Caribbean private beach is not a real trip to Haiti, but you can see the countryside from the ship and it’s the most lush, green place I have ever seen.

What would you tell yourself before your first international trip knowing what you know now?

Chuck P.– Always pay for the local internet! 🙂

Ross- Go with the flow, don’t over plan, be open to trying new things, make friends with the locals and prepare to get the travel bug in a bad way.

Cam- Don’t plan everything. I tend to be on the verge of over planning things, and I’ve learned over the subsequent years to leave extra time to get lost, wander, or see what your new hotel/hostel/bar/tour friends suggest doing!

Dan K.- Well, my first real international trip — to London with my wife when we weren’t dating (long story) was hurt by my not preparing all that well. Now, when I go somewhere, I read every book and do some research. In this case, I just assumed it would be like being in New York and I wasted a lot of time figuring out how things work.

Now it’s your turn. What was your first international trip, most surprising destination, and what have you learned along the way? Tell us about it in the comments!

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