A Journey is a recommended guide through Laracasts for a given skill. Each section provides new tips and techniques that build upon what you've already learned.
That said, feel free to jump around as you see fit.
In the last five years, the PHP ecosystem has improved dramatically. So much to the point that it barely resembles its former self. Yes, today, PHP is a joy to use. Sure, it has its quirks, but so does every language.