The first time I moved I was 2 months old. I moved 5 times by the time I was 7. Not counting the 5 years I was ‘voluntarily homeless’ as a traveling freelance roadie, or all the times I’ve traveled on month or more trips or expated abroad, I’ve moved almost as many times as I am years old. I’ve learned many things from all my travels. Important things. Some have been learned the hard way. Some things make life on the road a whole lot easier. I’ll let you guess which ones.
So here are 36 things I’ve learned while traveling.
1. Always carry your own toilet paper
3. Stop and sit once in a while. Don’t do anything. Just sit and enjoy.
4. Check all your batteries are charged the MORNING BEFORE you travel, not 5 minutes before leaving.
5. Spend the money on a good thin rain coat.
6. Always bring at least one pair of warm socks.
7. Listen to yourself first. If you want to travel with jeans, do it, and screw everyone else. Otherwise you’ll be wishing the whole trip for jeans, but you won’t be able to find any you like.
8. Get out of your comfort zone. Voluntarily. Otherwise the universe will do it for you, when you least want it to, and aren’t prepared.
9. Always prepare for spiders and/or cold.
10. Embrace changes. They’re going to happen. Don’t fight them. Shrug your shoulder, laugh, and roll with it.
11. Moneybelts are a waste of money, and uncomfortable. Local’s don’t use them so why should you?
12. Don’t “Give the Papaya”. (Colombian saying meaning “Don’t go around flashing stuff that will attract robbers.)
13. Do stuff that scares you. You’ll feel like a badass after.
14. Wake up early and watch the sunrise.
15. Picnic over a sunset.
16. Day old beans and rice makes the best breakfast.
17. Eat at local joint.
18. With that – look for places filled with locals, not tourist.
19. Even better – Eat where the taxi drivers eat. They know their shit!
20. Learn to say “Yes”
21. Attend local music whenever possible.
22. Not everyone speaks English. Don’t expect them too. Don’t get mad about it. Not even at home.
23. Learn a few words of the local language. At least, ‘please’, ‘thank you’, and ‘where is the bathroom?’
24. Stop and feed the pigeons. Or stop and enjoy watching it when others do.
26. Learn the metric system, or at least cheat conversions for it.
27. Buy local as much as possible.
28. In Colombia, small tiendas (convenience stores) are way cheaper than supermarkets.
29. Go on a Kenyan safari during the wildebeest migration
30. Squat toilets are not as bad as you expect. Sometimes.
31. Travel somewhere solo to prove to yourself you can.
32. It is way easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Especially when it comes to taking photos.
33. Make friends with locals. They know where the cool stuff is.
34. If you are in the jungle, and everyone getting onto the bus is dressed for winter and carrying blankets, you should probably do the same.
35. Be nice when things go wrong. Yelling and screaming at someone who is just doing their job does not make you cool. It makes you a deuche. They don’t control the weather anymore than they control you being too busy on Facebook to listen to the boarding announcements.
35 1/2. You’re ‘needs’ are no more important than anyone else’s. You are not entitled to anything.
36. Tip. Especially if you are given great service, specialized meals, information, or just pleasant conversation on your ride home. It is appreciated and helps the local economy.
Bonus Things I’ve Learned:
Don’t be afraid to look stupid. You’ll have way more fun when you do.
This post was written for Day 21 of the 2015 Indie Travel Challenge. Check it out. It’s 30 days of writing prompts.
About Dani Blanchette
I am a freelance travel and music photographer and creator of GoingNomadic.com.
I love music, food, and exploring cities without guidebooks. I’ve flown a helicopter, hitchhiked down the east coast USA, and once snuck into the back of a zoo (in Serbia) and pet a lion.
I am always up for an adventure, and sometimes I videotape them.