The greatest thing I have discovered while travelling

Lucky me

Lucky me

                                                              Photo credit: Thomas Hawk

We’ve seen wondrous sights and witnessed dozens of new cultures and customs and I will be forever grateful for that, but what is the greatest thing I’ve discovered? How lucky I am and probably not for the reason you’re thinking. I still firmly believe that if you want to travel it simply takes hard work, dedication and changing your priorities, it has very little to do with luck. The reason I feel lucky is because of the complete chance that I happened to be born in the United Kingdom.


I grew up in my home country going on short holidays to experience different cultures but I still wasn’t wholly aware of the massive differences from country to country. It takes time to appreciate those and we’re fortunate enough to have had plenty of that over the last 17 months. I’ve taken everything about my home country for granted because it’s all I’ve ever known. I was obviously aware that it’s very different elsewhere in the world but until I experienced it first hand these contrasts are generally things I just heard about on the news.

My own personal American dream, nothing else made the cut

My own personal American dream, nothing else made the cut

We’ve travelled to 18 countries on this trip and I fully expected to be absolutely in love with quite a few, having dreams of living there some day. I was really surprised that although I’ve thoroughly enjoyed so many countries the only one I would only consider living in is the USA and even that would have its compromises. Every other place involved changes that I wouldn’t be willing to make in order to live there. I’m seeing the UK with fresh eyes and realising how profoundly lucky I am to have been born there. Believe me, I realise that the UK has flaws like every country but for me the good things far outweigh the bad.


Great things about being a UK citizen


  • We live in a safe, democratic country where citizens are granted great freedoms. This is the thing I took for granted the most and it wasn’t until I’ve spoken face to face with people that don’t have the same luxury that I realise how lucky I am.


  • I can travel pretty much anywhere in the world on a UK passport with very little visa/immigration issues. I was completely ignorant about how envied the UK passport is until we’ve talked to other travellers.


Feel that patriotic pride!

Feel that patriotic pride!

Photo credit: csaga 


  • We have a welfare and medical system that takes a lot of international criticism. I for one am incredibly grateful that anyone in the UK, rich or poor, can walk into a hospital and be treated free of charge.


  • Never again will I complain about having a minimum of 20 days holiday plus 8 public holidays per year. We are so fortunate that the work/life balance swings very heavily towards life.


  • Our country is very heavily populated but we still have vast regions of absolutely stunning, unspoiled landscapes that are free from pollution and destruction. The highlands of Scotland is still one of my favourite places on earth and I can’t believe I live only a few hours away by car.


I live within driving distance of this majestic place - Isle of Skye, Scotland

I live within driving distance of this majestic place – Isle of Skye, Scotland. Believe it or not nothing has been done to this photo at all, the sky really did look like that


  • Our proximity to Europe is enticing and the continent is incredibly easy to access, I can’t wait to explore more of what’s on my doorstep.


  • We’ve had a tough few years financially but the vast majority of people in the UK don’t know the true meaning of the word poverty. We should be grateful that most of us have a roof over our heads and can feed our families.


I’m seeing my home in a new light and I’m glad this trip has allowed me to gain some perspective. Now if we could just change the fact that it rains 80% of the year…


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Posted on by Maddie Posted in Thoughts

15 Responses to The greatest thing I have discovered while travelling

  1. Sarah Somewhere

    Hehe! Love the last line, though I think it would be far more populated if it had the good weather too!! I like the UK too, love the Brits and their sense of humour, and yes, proximity to Europe with loads of cheap flights is a big plus!!! Personally, I love your variety shows (Jonathon Ross, Graham Norton), your comedians (Ricky Gervais, Russell Brand) and all the great theatre in London!!
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    • Maddie

      It’s the one thing I would change about the UK if I could, although this summer was supposed to have been fantastic. Glad you like it too, our shows and comedians are brilliant and I don’t think I’d realised how quirky the British sense of humour is until we’d left.

  2. Tara @ Two Travelaholics

    I have notes for a very similar post about the US! We RTWers start to think similarly, huh? Travel really does make you realize how lucky you are. The #1 think we’ve come to appreciate is that we can travel freely and easily with our US passport – just like you two.

    Two things I’m jealous of: your healthcare system and amount of vacation days! We’ve been told by Brits that the US work ethic has ruined their own (b/c of Americans they work with). Consider yourselves lucky for sure 🙂

    • Maddie

      It is funny how we all seem to go through the same things! In my last job we had a lot of dealings with U.S colleagues and quite a few people had stopped taking their full holiday allowance to be seen as more dedicated to work. We have always used every single day and made the most of them, it doesn’t change how hard to work when you’re actually in the office. I really feel for you guys, I hope it might start to change in the U.S over the next few years. Aside from that and universal healthcare your country is pretty awesome!

  3. Krista Beauvais

    I’ve had exactly the same feelings on our trip. I’m Canadian but have been in the UK since 2002 and now hold dual citizenship – and we find ourselves so often saying, ‘Well we could easily get that in the UK.’ Or ‘Wow, it’s so much cheaper in the UK.’ Or ‘The quality would be such much better in the UK.’ So…we know exactly what you mean!

    • Maddie

      I really hope I don’t lose the wonder I’m feeling at how easy things are now we’re back in western countries, I like the real appreciation it gives.

  4. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    Such great timing on this piece as the media has been all afire lately about how the UK passport is truly one of the best to travel with. While I recognize that there are certainly perks to being from Canada and the U.S. (we are all privileged in the fundamental ways), I do think having a UK passport is probably the most desirable, particularly because of how easy it makes travel through Europe. Not only do you get the cheap flights, but you get to stay pretty much indefinitely in most of Europe rather than trying to find a way to shove it all into a 90-day visit. Having never really lived in the UK, I can’t talk about cost of living (it always seems ridiculously expensive to me, even compared to Canada), but there’s lot about it that I love (the literary culture, the tv program(me)s, the sense of humor, even the food!). I don’t blame you at all for discovering a new-found love for your homeland as it’s pretty great!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..The Secret to Happiness: Savor the Small StuffMy Profile

    • Maddie

      I was so ignorant about how great my passport was until we started chatting to a few other travellers, it’s such a great thing to have. The UK cost of living is ridiculously high if compared to the U.S but the average salaries are higher to try and balance it out, it’s still expensive though! We found Canada to be just as expensive as the UK but we’ve obviously got no experience with household expenditure and day to day living, plus we were there in summer. Like you say, we’re all very privileged, I just hope I can remember that when we slip back into life at home.

  5. Amy

    Great post! I too have come to love and appreciate the UK in ways I could never have expected since I hit the road. In particular I think you’re right about the freedoms we enjoy in the UK, the natural beauty of the country and the proximity to Europe. I think the NHS is amazing too; universal healthcare is so important. I have also come to realise just how tolerant and multi-cultural the UK actually is since I’ve been travelling; living in London I was so used to seeing people from every country on the planet meshed together; I haven’t seen anything comparable to that in any of the countries I’ve travelled to so far. I love the way the British can openly discuss religion and politics; I even love the weather! Even though I love to travel I can’t imagine ever permanently living anywhere but London in the future.
    Amy recently posted..Our Caving Adventure in SagadaMy Profile

    • Maddie

      That’s another one I’d not really thought of, we really do have a great multi-cultural country and one of my favourite things about Brits is that we usually say exactly what we think when it comes to controversial topics. We have to be so careful when we’re in the U.S as people seem to skirt around issues more as they don’t want to offend people. Now if only I could learn to love the weather!!

  6. Franca

    I couldn’t agree more, traveling does a lot to you and also really makes you appreciate more where you come from and how lucky we are.
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    • Maddie

      I think it’s been a much needed lesson for me, I really hope I can hold on to it!

  7. Carmel

    Hmm….we have a ton of rain without a lot of those benefits. You are very lucky for your UK passport. Even though we still haven’t figured out the healthcare issue (which is a hot button topic obviously right now, but for me especially), I still feel pretty lucky to have a US passport and live where I live.
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    • Maddie

      Ha, ha!! That’s basically why Paul doesn’t want to live in the Pacific North West even if we could get green cards 😉 The U.S has such a big challenge, in the UK everyone has always paid 30% of their income on taxes and for the welfare system, because it’s all we’ve ever known people don’t complain about it. When you have to start from scratch there are going to be massive problems, they’ll figure it out eventually.

  8. Hannah

    A really thoughtful post and one I totally agree with. As Cecil Rhodes said: “to be born English is to win first prize in the lottery of life” – and only last night I was thinking how much I love our (generally) tolerant approach to different people, our sense of humour, our addiction to tea and biscuits and that we have four distinct and lovely seasons. Like you I absolutely adore the USA and I am really fond of all of the Scandinavian countries I’ve experienced but travelling abroad makes you realise how peaceful and comparatively prosperous it is in the UK and for that I feel immensely lucky. Hope your time and home and your next adventures are wonderful.
    Hannah recently posted..State Twenty: IdahoMy Profile

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