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Remembering Anthony Bourdain: 7 Life Lessons I Learned From His Travels

It’s been a month since the shocking death of beloved world traveler, Anthony Bourdain. We know him as the commanding narrator of the award-winning CNN show, Parts Unknown, and for his powerful memoir, Kitchen Confidential. But more than just his celebrity, Anthony was the purveyor of real stories.

He brought us to places and introduced us to people we probably would’ve never taken a second look at. And though he was best known for his unique voice and honest storytelling, it’s important to note that he also listened — he listened when nobody else would.

Yes, he taught us how to travel, but more than anything, he taught us how to live.

Here are some of the life lessons you’ll pick up from his travels.

1. Language is not a barrier

Anthony Bourdain with locals
Photo by: @PartsUnknownCNN via Facebook

Anthony traveled to places far from home like the side streets of Hong Kong or Mozambique, where at 6”4 and with his Jersey accent, he stuck out like a sore thumb. This might sound like a scary scenario for most, but this never fazed him.

Like we already know, the best way to experience a country is through its food, and the best kinds are found in little alleyways with no tourists in sight.

Food is a universal language, simply point at what your seatmate’s having, and slurp away. After all, a cold beer and hot noodles taste about the same no matter where you are in the world.

2. Do as little as possible

Anthony Bourdain exploring
Photo by: @PartsUnknownCNN via Facebook

There are some places that we will only get to experience once in a lifetime. Say for example, a trip to Paris or Rome — any trip that you’ve been saving up for for quite some time. Once you get there, you would most probably hop on as much city and museum tours as possible. This is fine, of course.

But when you do this, you can miss out on all the little things that make these places great in the first place. Like coffee in a French cafe, a beachside nap in Bali, or aimless strolls in a random Japanese park. Slow down, chew carefully, and take in the beauty of the mundane.

3. Don’t be afraid to look like an idiot

Parts Unknown CNN Episode
Photo by: @PartsUnknownCNN via Facebook

Despite his sage-like wisdom, Anthony never claimed to know everything. This could be seen in the way he traveled, and the way he lived life. So, wherever you go, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, ask questions, and most importantly, learn.

4. A meal could change everything

Anthony Bourdain and Barack Obama
Photo by: @PartsUnknownCNN via Facebook

A complete stranger could become your bestest friend over a good meal, while a feuding family can become civil over Sunday brunch.

Don’t underestimate the power of food, “meals make the society hold the fabric together in lot of ways that were charming and interesting and intoxicating,” he says.

5. Travel isn’t always going to be pretty

Anthony Bourdain street food
Photo by: @PartsUnknownCNN via Facebook

Admit it, everything you do and everywhere you go is always dictated by how pretty and appealing it looks. But that’s not how it’s going to be all the time, and that’s okay.

The journey to some of the most beautiful places in the world will require days worth of discomfort and a million uncertainties. But in the end, it is always, always worth it.

6. Wing it

Anthony Bourdain tattoo
Photo by: @PartsUnknownCNN via Facebook

There’s nothing like the accidental joy of stumbling upon a delicious hole-in-a-wall or a quaint family owned shop. Instead of following a strict itinerary, allow yourself to make some wrong turns and bad decisions, because that’s the only way you can arrive on the perfect one.

7. Just move

Anthony Bourdain boat
Photo by: @PartsUnknownCNN via Facebook

You don’t have to travel long haul to witness something life-changing. Anthony said,

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.

Inspired? Start exploring more parts unknown or check out Anthony Bourdain’s travel to the Philippines.

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