travel ted talks
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Best Travel TED Talks that will Inspire Wanderlust

If you’re dreaming to see the world, this list of travel TED Talks will inspire, motivate and even teach you how to do it! After watching hours and hours of travel TED Talks, listening to travelers from all across the world sharing their stories, I’ve created this list of the 10 best travel TED Talks that will inspire wanderlust.

My heart broke during some and I laughed hysterically during others. After watching these travel TED Talks, I’m so ready to conquer my travel bucket list! I’m confident it will happen! 🙂 I can only hope that you’ll be as inspired as I am watching these stories!

The world is an incredible place filled with amazing sights and inviting people. So whether you’ve been a traveler for years or you’re just looking for inspiration to get started, check out these travel TED Talks. I hope you enjoy!

Travel More and Buy Less

Travel More & Buy Less. | Luis Vargas | TEDxPortland

We live in a world of consumption. Before you buy your next item for your “man cave” or “she shed,” think again. Adventure and exploration is the best way to learn and expand your horizons. The idea here is simple and enlightening, that one should have a passport full of stamps rather than a house full of stuff.

This one was by far my favorite travel Ted Talk! Probably because this blog was built around my personal belief that I’d rather spend money on experiences rather than things. I prioritize spending money on travel over nice cars, a closet full of clothes or even watching TV. So, you can say Luis Vargas’ message resonated with me.

Here are my favorite snippets of Luis’ talk:

“Exploration and discovery and adventure are essential elements of the human experience and rarely are we more alive than when we’re out exploring and discovering.”

“Travel is the ultimate truth teller, myth buster and stereotype killer.”

“Right now with an American passport you can visit 174 countries without a Visa or get a Visa at the point of entry.”

“Say yes to a transformative travel experience. This is not about checking things off a list, it’s about having meaningful experiences.”

The Value of Travel

The value of travel | Rick Steves | TEDxRainier

After spending 4 months a year for the last 30 years living out of a suitcase, Rick Steves reflects on the value of thoughtful travel.

Rick Steves is famous for his travel writing and hosting Rick Steves’ Europe on public TV. He gave a travel TEDx Talk in 2011 about the value of travel. From someone who’s traveled much of his life, he should have good advice, right? I found his personal stories very moving and he illustrates a lot of great examples of how travel can change us.

Favorite parts of Rick’s talk:

“Travel opens us up to the wonders of our world.”

“When we travel we gain a little better appreciation of what is the baggage that people are carrying when they respond to us.”

“When we look at the rest of the world, rather than fear its diversity, we can better celebrate it.”

Related reads:
How to Create Your Ultimate Travel Bucket List (Plus 101 Destinations)
10 Tips for Your Best Vacation Ever

The Joy of Surfing in Ice Cold Water

Chris Burkard: The joy of surfing in ice-cold water

“Anything that is worth pursuing is going to require us to suffer, just a little bit,” says surf photographer Chris Burkard, as he explains his obsession with the coldest, choppiest, most isolated beaches on earth. With jawdropping photos and stories of places few humans have ever seen — much less surfed — he draws us into his “personal crusade against the mundane.”

Chris Burkard’s journey to explore and surf the coldest oceans on earth is incredible. His talk is full of wisdom and it’s easy to translate that to meaning in your own life. I think Chris is a certain kind of brave, and it’s very obvious he’s following his life passion. Friends, I’ll just say that you’ll never find me surfing while it’s -10 degrees outside! This was a very fun travel TED Talk to watch!

Favorite takeaways from Chris’ talk:

“I began craving wild, open spaces. And so I set out to find the places others had written off as too cold, too remote, and too dangerous to surf, and that challenge intrigued me.”

… I found a clarity and a connection with the world I knew I would never find on a crowded beach.

“In life, there are no shortcuts to joy. Anything that is worth pursuing is going to require us to suffer just a little bit.”

“I gave a piece of myself in these places, and what I walked away with was a sense of fulfillment I had always been searching for.”

The Real Reason I Traveled to 196 Countries

The real reason I traveled to 196 countries | Cassie De Pecol | TEDxMileHigh

In 2017, 27-year-old Cassie De Pecol set two Guinness World Records for the fastest travel around the world to every sovereign country. Join Cassie for an in depth look at how she did it, what it was like, and for the first time publicly, the real reason why she started the expedition.

World record breaker Cassie De Pecol traveled solo to 196 countries in 18 months. Her incredible journey took her 3 years to plan. Cassie is honest and raw in her reasons on why she took on this challenge. She’s been through every country, and tells us what it was like traveling through some of the toughest countries in the world. Her story is inspiring, and a must-watch if you’re looking to travel the globe.

Favorite pieces from Cassie’s talk:

“Whether you’ve been to 5 countries or 150, you probably have your own personal unique experience related to each place. We all have our own way of traveling and discovering a culture and it doesn’t matter what you see or where you go, what matters is your own experience while you’re there.”

“I discovered the goodness in people all around the world.”

How to Travel the World for Next to Nothing

How to Travel the World for Next to Nothing | Bryce Conway | TEDxInverness

Have you always wanted to go away for a fun Spring Break but never had the money? This was the problem that a young Bryce Conway faced and he took on the challenge in an inspiringly inventive way. In this video Bryce shares his tips for “Travel-Hacking” which he describes as being like extreme-couponing except for travel.

Bryce Conway gives an excellent talk about a method used by many to travel the world – travel hacking. He shares his story of how he found travel hacking and the keys to make it successful. I personally have used this strategy to earn free travel, and support his message if you are methodical and careful. Bryce has a book on the subject, which you can find here.

Favorite takeaways from Bryce’s talk:

“I quickly realized that this is a field, it’s called travel hacking…it’s an entirely arbitrage opportunity to take advantage of things, like this, to travel.”

“It is entirely possible to travel the world for next to nothing simply by beating banks and credit card companies at the very game that they created.”

“Traveling is one of the most important things you can do to develop as a person.”

“The more that you travel the more that the fear of the unknown completely dissipates.”

Stunning Photos of the Endangered Everglades

Mac Stone: Stunning photos of the endangered Everglades

For centuries, people have viewed swamps and wetlands as obstacles to avoid. But for photographer Mac Stone, who documents the stories of wildlife in Florida’s Everglades, the swamp isn’t a hindrance – it’s a national treasure. Through his stunning photographs, Stone shines a new light on a neglected, ancient and important wilderness.

As you could have guessed based on the title, photographer Mac Stone tells the story of the beauty of the Everglades in the southeast U.S. He shows incredible photos of a place many Floridians – and Americans – have written off and bridges the gap between the endangered ecosystems and the perceptions many people have of it. Mac encourages us to explore the earth and protect it.

Favorite pieces of Mac’s talk:

“Before most kids are 12, they’ll have been to Disney World more times than they’ve been in a canoe or camping under a starry sky. And I have nothing against Disney or Mickey; I used to go there, too. But they’re missing out on those fundamental connections that create a real sense of pride and ownership for the place that they call home.

“… once deemed this swampy wasteland, today is a World Heritage site. It’s a wetland of international importance…. they say that the Everglades is our greatest test. If we pass it, we get to keep the planet.”

Related reads:
45 Signs You Need a Vacation

Why Taking Vacations Makes You Happier

Traveling with No Money

Traveling with no money | Edouard Jacqmin | TEDxZaragoza

Traveling with no money can teach you what you have to give instead of what you’d like to get from people you meet along the way. Being independent of money during 21 days makes you dependent on people and you can learn how to turn your fear of approaching strangers as well as you fear of being rejected in your favor.

As a personal finance blogger, I was inspired by Edouard Jacqmin’s story. He figured out a way to travel for 21 days through 5 countries in Europe with no money. He challenged himself to understand human relationships when they’re independent of money.

Here are my favorite parts of Edouard’s talk:

“People are never rejecting you. They are rejecting the idea you would present.”

“When you travel, being dependent on people is actually quite fun. And can give a deeper meaning to your journey.”

“This is not about what you get, this is about what you give.” “I lived the best moments of my journey when I was in the giving mindset.”

Kill Your Bucket List

Kill your bucket list | Edward Readicker-Henderson | TEDxMaui

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Are bucket lists killing our joy? Edward Readicker-Henderson thinks so. Follow this vagabonding travel writer on a journey to living in the moment. Widely published vagabonding travel writer and contributing editor of National Geographic Traveler and ISLANDS magazines.

Kill your bucket list is a talk from a man who has been told multiple times he has a year left to live. Edward Readicker-Henderson has traveled to over 50 countries since doctors told him he shouldn’t travel. His story is so inspiring it will make you re-think how you’re living your day-to-day life, and his dry humor will make you laugh again and again. One of my favorite travel TED Talks, for sure!

Here are my favorite snippets of Edward’s’ talk:

“What if instead of thinking I had to do something before I die, what if I just did something while I was alive?”

“Instead of saying ‘I want to see – I said – I wonder.’ And I would go places with no idea of what I was going to find, I’d just show up to see what was going to happen.”

“Your bucket list puts these expectations. You already know before you get there what it’s going to be like but how often is it really like that?”

The Idea I Had to Travel for Free

The Idea i had to travel for free | Jonathan KUBBEN-QUINONEZ | TEDxBrussels

In 2016 Jonathan quit his job, sold his car and bought a one way ticket to travel the world. Former consultant with a degree in communication and management, he created the concept “MOM, I’M FINE”. One year later, his story became an internet sensation.

Jonathan Kubben-Quinonez, like many other speakers in this list, realized one day that life is about more than working. Through self-awareness and listening to TED Talks, he decided he wanted to travel the world. However, he didn’t have money to travel so he designed a solution to get sponsors to help him travel for free. His technique is unique and his speech is entertaining to watch!

“Only 6 percent of us achieve our childhood dreams.”

“I fell in love with nature. Every day for me was an adventure.”

“The TED Talk inspired me to take action and to dare to do what I’m doing.”

Related reads:
55 Ways to Save Money
Easiest Way to Spend Less Money

Animal Tales from Icy Wonderlands

Paul Nicklen: Animal tales from icy wonderlands

Diving under the Antarctic ice to get close to the much-feared leopard seal, photographer Paul Nicklen found an extraordinary new friend. Share his hilarious, passionate stories of the polar wonderlands, illustrated by glorious images of the animals who live on and under the ice.

This miiiight have been the talk where tears were shed. I have a special place in my heart for animals, and while I’ve never been to the places that Paul Nicklen speaks of, I certainly want the incredible animals to be there if I ever get the opportunity to go. Paul shows us a glimpse into the earth’s polar regions through incredible photography and stories of how he captured those moments. While this talk doesn’t speak directly about travel, it does speak to what an absolutely stunning place this earth is, and how it must be protected and explored.

My favorite points in Paul’s talk:

“…scientists were originally saying sea ice is going to disappear in the next hundred years, then they said 50 years. Now they’re saying the sea ice in the Arctic, the summertime extent is going to be gone in the next four to 10 years. And what does that mean? After a while of reading this in the news, it just becomes news. You glaze over with it. And what I’m trying to do with my work is put faces to this. And I want people to understand and get the concept that, if we lose ice, we stand to lose an entire ecosystem. Projections are that we could lose polar bears, they could become extinct in the next 50 to 100 years.”

“This is a bowhead whale. Supposedly, science is stating that it could be the oldest living animal on earth right now. This very whale right here could be over 250 years old. This whale could have been born around the start of the Industrial Revolution. It could have survived 150 years of whaling. And now its biggest threat is the disappearance of ice in the North because of the lives that we’re leading in the South. “

Recap: The Best Travel TED Talks

Although each one of these TED Talks was unique, I feel like there were a few common themes:

  • Live your best life. Figure out a way to travel. It is possible!
  • Traveling creates a sense of belonging. If you’re lost or at a crossroads, the experiences you get when traveling help to open your eyes and create perspective.
  • The world will surprise you. The people you meet, the sights you see and the most incredible landscapes you get to explore, there’s one thing that’s true: you’ll learn a lot while traveling.

I hope, as you’ve watched these powerful stories, that you are full of inspiration and you’re ready to plan your travels.

Traveling is fun and it can be within reach for anyone, I truly believe that.
Perhaps your next trip will be to the everglades? What about Victoria Falls, Ghana, Mexico, Iran, Hungary or Norway?

Create your travel bucket list, save the money and make a plan to get there. The world is waiting for you to explore it!

Drop a comment below with your favorite travel TED Talk. 🙂

8 Responses

  1. Such a refreshing and inspiring post. Traveling creates a sense of belonging – love it and can’t agree more. Thanks for compiling this list…gotta watch all of these now 🙂

    1. Thanks Divya! I spent way too many hours watching TED Talks and now all I want to do is plan a trip to EVERYWHERE! Enjoy the videos! 🙂

  2. LOVED reading this – one of my favorite blog posts i’ve read yet! thank you for sharing 🙂 x

  3. Oooohhhh……I LOVE to travel and hadn’t thought about some TED talks to listen to for inspiration. Thanks for making this list! Getting started now.

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