6 Travel Lessons We Learned From Anthony Bourdain

anthony bourdain travel lessons

Anthony Bourdain might not have been the first one to take us discovering the world, but without a doubt, he was the first to show us that traveling is much more than just visiting nice places.

“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps, wisdom... is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go. -Anthony Bourdain”


Today I woke up to the terrible news of Anthony Bourdain’s death, and I seriously didn’t expect for it to hurt and shock me the way it did. I guess many of you out there can relate when I say that this man became a big part of my life. I remember spending lazy weekends with my parents waiting to watch his show to see, as my mother used to say, “what crazy food this man is going to eat now.” In one of his many visits to Mexico, he made me realize that what we eat every day was seen by many people around the world as “crazy” and strange food. In other words, he made us (and many people other people around the world) leave behind many of our prejudices and stereotypes to show us the amazing cultural diversity the world has to offer.


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He was much more than just a chef taking a camera and eating traditional dishes all over the world. His shows were by no means just random or simplistic travel experiences to follow just like that, but actually amazing products that allowed us to connect with the many experiences people live and even get to know our own country in ways we wouldn’t have dared to imagine. For that reason, today we’re honoring a man who made us see food as the best passport to travel the world. Here are some lessons we learned from Anthony Bourdain we should all keep in mind wherever we go.


You can only know a country through their food

This one is the main and most obvious lesson he left us. Countries and traditions aren’t only their buildings and tourist spots; actually, these are just great backgrounds for some of the most life-changing experiences you can have. For him, as a renowned chef, food was naturally the best way to learn about a culture, a person, and their unique point of view. For that reason, no matter where you go, don’t miss out on the amazing local dishes a place has to offer. The only way to really embrace the history and traditions of a place is through their flavors, smells, and ingredients.


“You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.”


Traveling is the best education you can get

Of course, he wasn’t the first person ever to say this, but through his many shows and books, he made a huge emphasis on the personal and intellectual wealth one can get when we come out of our bubble and start learning about and sharing other realities and points of view. Traveling can offer us so many things we can’t find in books, and even the most random short trip can leave us with a big life lesson.


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Always visit the local market

It doesn’t matter if you’re not planning on cooking something. Local markets can be the greatest centers of customs and traditions of a city or town. Most likely they have an impressive ancient history you shouldn't miss just because you think these places are only to buy things. Moreover, most local markets tend to offer local street food, which, according to Bourdain, is just the best culinary example of what a country tries to offer. Just try new stuff to enrich your traveling and life experiences.


“If I'm an advocate for anything, it's to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else's shoes or at least eat their food, it's a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.” 


Read books set in the place you’re going

He once said that you can read as many travel guides as you want and become an expert of a place through hard facts, but that fiction offers something much more important, and that’s the experience and the emotions of the characters who live in that city you’re visiting. Yes, before you go, learn the most important facts about the place, but also take a character or story along with you on your adventure; they’ll give something more valuable for your visit.


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Talk to people

Again, not everything about a trip is just sightseeing and souvenir shopping. Actually, one of the most gratifying and fulfilling experiences we can have while traveling is sharing our life experiences with others. Talk to people, get interested in their lives; they’re going to be the best guides.


“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”


Leave all your prejudices behind

Last but not least, one of the most important lessons he gave us has to be that we should forget our prejudices. There’s nothing more disrespectful and condescending than exploring a place through our judgmental glasses. You’re not the center of the world, and traveling is the best way to realize that, but also, socializing and experiencing things in the most authentic way can be the best life lesson you can get.


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Anthony Bourdain taught generations of people around the world that life has to be lived to the fullest. That you literally only live once, and for that reason, you have to go beyond your comfort zone to really appreciate all that life has to offer. Perhaps, for him, there was something missing, and he ended up making that difficult and hard decision to end his journey.


If you or anyone you know needs help, please visit the sites below:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

International Association for Suicide Prevention 


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Check these out:

6 Signs You And Your Partner Should Go On Your First Trip Together This Year

5 Unique Experiences You Should Try Out The Next Time You Travel

12 Big Life Lessons You Can Only Get From Traveling In Your 20s

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María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards

María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards


Articulista Bilingüe CC+
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