Travel has been one of the great joys of my life.
When I fought for the UFC, I visited foreign lands, learned new cultures, and explored exciting locations.
As a travel host of my own reality series for the last few years, I experienced different parts of Asia and made many new friends along the way.
Even though COVID has now vastly affected worldwide travel, I look forward to the time when restrictions are lifted, and international borders reopened.
In the meantime, I’d like to share five amazing life lessons gained from my happier globetrotting days.
The More You Learn, The Less You Know
Only when I started to travel did I realize how much I did not know about the world. This sparked my desire to listen, observe and learn more.
Living in the Western hemisphere, it is easy to form certain impressions of foreign countries based solely on media coverage.
As a travel host, I lived and traveled within Asia for the past few years. This opened my eyes to the realities on the ground, which sometimes were different from the things I thought I knew from TV.
Now whenever I travel to a new destination, I keep an open mind. Travel is the perfect opportunity to learn and experience new things.
Believe me, the more you learn, the more you realize how little you actually know.
Value The Human Connection And Relationships
I became the first man in the UFC to compete in four different countries. Fortunate to always be surrounded by a great team, travel brought us closer and since then, I have always valued relationships over everything else.
You are bound to make new friends on your travels. Though it can be fun to explore a new place on your own, there is a certain type of joy in experiencing this with others.
During my last trip to Cebu in the Philippines, we were out hiking in Kawasan falls when I came across a fellow trekker.
He stopped, introduced himself and thanked me for how I was an inspiration and role model.
I was shocked that someone out here, halfway around the world would even recognize me, let alone show his respect.
This experienced moved me, as I always sought to set the best example to others.
Traveling is the gateway to human interaction and connection. Embrace your fellow travelers and you may just come away with unforgettable experiences like I did.
Appreciate The Simple Things In Life
It is important to appreciate the little things in life. Travel gives us the time to slow down and stop to smell the roses so to speak.
When I was a fighter traveling abroad to compete in international arenas, my hectic schedule meant I couldn’t always immerse myself in a place and soak up the experience.
Thankfully, as a travel host and ambassador for ONE Championship, I now have the time to reflect on my experiences.
I treasure the times my team and I spent on the road. From watching the scenery during a climb on Mount Fuji to downing a hearty meal after filming, I cherish the simple and little moments that we sometimes take for granted.
Travel has taught me that it’s the simple things in life that count.
Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Try New Things
Even though I’m a person of routine, I also believe in learning from new experiences.
Travel requires you to step out of your comfort zone and embrace the unknown. Going to a new place for the first time can challenge even the most seasoned travelers.
You are forced to find your own way, manage a budget and navigate a foreign country, all while not speaking their native tongue.
A travel experience will teach you new lessons about yourself and help you become more independent and confident.
Like they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Learn That We are Different But Same
I am often mesmerized by the different cultures and traditions throughout my travels. Yet, I also come away from each experience with the understanding that deep inside, we are still people and have very much in common.
Travel allowed me to celebrate our differences, as I got to live and learn with the people of different countries.
I was poor growing up in the West, but after traveling, I learned how poverty takes on a whole new meaning elsewhere.
Despite witnessing much deeper levels of poverty, I too remember not having much in my earlier years, and I could still empathize with some of their basic struggles.
Travel truly highlights the human condition. As people, we all go through hardships in life. Yet, there are happy people everywhere around the world. We share the same spirit and hope in struggle.
Take time on your journey to experience the culture and people, and you may just come away with the realization that we are not so different after all.