James Borrell is a biodiversity scientist and science communicator researching how people and nature can adapt to environmental change.

10 Lessons Learned from Expeditions

“I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.” – Bill Bryson

1. People are overwhelmingly good. Contrary to what you might hear on TV or read in the Newspapers.

2. The rainforest isn’t very dangerous. Sure, it does have a substantial list of things that might hurt you, but in reality they are few and far between. With a little common sense you probably won’t encounter them (unless you go looking!)

3. You most likely will look back on the worst bits as your best bits (but it won’t feel like that at the time).

4. Arriving with preconceptions of a country is a good way to be wrong from the outset. Kosovo and Bosnia were both good examples of this. Kosovo has by far the most wonderful variety of cakes I’ve yet encountered (and lovely people).

5. Good things are guaranteed to happen when you least expect it. More on this here.

6. There will always be at least one item in your pack that you carried around for countless miles an never ended up using.

7. Environmental and conservation situations are rarely as simple as you might have learned at school or university.

8. Things will go wrong, it’s being able to adapt and deal with them that matters.

9. It doesn’t matter who was there first, who did it fasted or who climbed the highest. What matters is that you are there.

10. The most memorable lessons are those learned the hard way.

In a nut shell, I think that regardless of your background or experience, travel teaches you a lot; And that in itself is as good a reason as any to go.