Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Mon September 07 2015

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  • A Cruising Couple | September 7, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    3 Unique Travel Stories - And the Life Lessons Learned

    3 Unique Travel Stories - And the Life Lessons Learned

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock, all others by A Cruising Couple

    We've been living and traveling abroad for over four years now, and we've learned a thing or two about the world and ourselves in the process. And though we might not be close to figuring out all of life’s mysteries, we certainly back the phrase “travel is the best education.”

    Many of our travel experiences have taught us valuable lessons that can’t be taught in a classroom. And some of our life lessons haven’t been all that important in the grand scheme of things, but the memories still make us smile. While by no means a comprehensive list, here are three travel stories and what they've taught us about life as a result:

    On Renting a Car in Cancun: Be Thrifty, But Not Cheap

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    Cancun is arguably one of the most touristy destinations on Earth. The official name of downtown is actually the Hotel Zone. So you'd think that prices here are fairly fixed and there's just no getting around it. Well, with a bit of quick thinking, we were able to learn a very valuable lesson about pricing. As soon as you walk out of the Cancun airport there are what seem like hundreds of car rentals and taxis begging to whisk you away.

    We knew we would be spending a few days outside the main strip at Playa del Carmon, so we wanted to rent a car. With all of the car rental agencies waving fliers and gesturing us over claiming to be the "best price," we decided to put them to the test. "Who here can give me the best price on a compact rental car?" we voiced over the noisy crowd. The vendors all looked at each other and started shouting out their best prices, each bartering lower and lower for our business. We ended up with a car for $8 a day!

    Even when prices seem non-negotiable, you might be surprised at the deals you can find if you're clever enough. That being said, we don't recommend going to the Philippines and bargaining with a street vendor over a couple of dollars — for them that's a week’s wage. We try to never forget just how lucky we are to be traveling when so many around the world are worried about food and shelter. Traveling has taught us to be thrifty, but not necessarily cheap.

    Lost in Vietnam: The Kindness of Strangers

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    It was around 4 p.m. and getting unusually dark during monsoon season in Vietnam. We had been cycling for hours without any sign of a hotel or even a town for that matter. Cows were getting anxious in the fields, and the winds started blowing furiously. We knew we were in trouble if we didn’t find shelter soon. So when we happened upon a small hut on the side of the dirt road, we decided to stop and ask in our very limited Vietnamese how much further until the next hotel.

    As the first raindrops started to fall, the elderly woman looked at us with our bicycles, looked up at the sky, looked back at us, and without a word motioned us inside. Moments later the sky opened up and didn't stop for 16 hours. This family took us in, fed us a full meal, let us bathe in their makeshift shower and gave us a bed for the night. Though it was very clear that they had little, the family generously took us into their home, expecting nothing in return.

    Strangers can be staggeringly kind, and we are forever grateful for the immense generosity we have been shown around the world. Whenever we are having a bad day, all it takes is reflecting on this kindness to remind us we have been given so much — and should joyfully give so much back in return. What would you do if foreign strangers knocked on your door seeking shelter? Before this experience, I’m not sure if we would have done the same thing as this humble family.

    Hiking Maderas Volcano: Follow A Word From The Wise

    Hiking Maderas Volcano Isla de Ometepe

    “It's super intense.” “My legs ached for days.” “You'll get covered in mud.” “You absolutely have to take a guide.” These were all conversations we had before hiking the 4,600-foot high Maderas Volcano on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua. We consider ourselves reasonably fit, with marathons, and a 1,000-mile cycling journey among the highlights of our active lifestyle. But luckily, our egos did not get the best of us before Maderas Volcano.

    We were mentally prepared and showed up with a guide for this strenuous 8-hour day of hiking. It was intense, and honestly, walking up stairs was nearly impossible for the next two days, and those mud-soaked shoes went right in the trash. We’re convinced that if we didn’t have a guide, we might still be lost on the volcano today.

    We always gather advice from travelers who have gone before us. This has translated into our personal lives as well. For extra insight on life decisions, we always get opinions from family or friends who have been there before. And we've always found, like with travel, people are more than happy to share their story and experiences.

    While all of these stories might not seem like dramatic, life-altering events, in some way they have shaped how we view the world and the way that we fit into it. And that’s the beauty of travel. It’s not always the dramatic, life-or-death situations that mold us forever, but the small events that happen in between.

    What life lessons have you learned through travel?


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A Cruising Couple A Cruising Couple's Column

A Cruising Couple Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple - adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,
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