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100 little things that travel has taught me

Written by 25 June 2012 136 Comments

Travel has been one of my most valuable teachers. Rather than sit in a classroom and learn about the world through a someone else’s eyes, I did it through adventures and misadventures, tears and laughter. I know I still have so much to discover, but here are some lessons that sometimes I had to learn the hard way. Some of them I already kinda knew, some I are silly, some are serious, some are obvious, and some are embarrassing. Maybe this collection will help open up new doors in your own life and own travels, and although we will all learn our own lessons, I hope maybe I will help someone avoid some of my mistakes (example: #14). Happy travels!

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    1. Travel is about the journey, not the destination. The destination is only the means for the journey to begin.
    2. Laws prohibiting durian on public transportation are there for a reason.
    3. Walking is the best way to explore a new city, and to burn off the calories from those cocktails last night.
    4. There are some tourist destinations that are “must-do’s” but they rarely really show you what a place is about.
    5. What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.
    6. If you can’t pick up your bag, you probably packed too much shit.
    7. Mango sticky rice is a wonderful breakfast, dessert and/or midnight snack. The same goes for banana pancakes.
    8. Lonely Planet doesn’t know everything.
    9. Learn how to bargain.
    10. Your whole life can change in a month, but your hometown will be just as you left it.
    11. Buying imported booze instead of drinking the local stuff is a fast way to blow your budget.
    12. Your friends are as inspired by your travels as they are envious of them. I promise.
    13. No matter how many you see, never stop appreciating sunsets.
    14. Embarazado” DOES NOT mean “embarrassed.”
    15. Sleep with your valuables as a pillow on overnight Eurorail trips, and in stations. Even then keep on guard.
    16. Postcards and tacky heartfelt souvenirs are the cheapest and greatest gift you can give.
    17. You can’t get contraceptives, tampons, etc. over the counter in all countries. Plan accordingly.
    18. At least attempt to learn the local language.  “Hello!” and “Thank you!” will get you farther than you think.
    19. Learn how to wash your own clothes.
    20. Tattoos are great souvenirs that will last a lifetime.

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    1. Carabineers are not just for rockclimbing.
    2. It’s fun to have a gimmick to make new friends. For example: playing an ukulele, fire dancing, perfecting a card trick, etc. You have the time, learn how to do something!
    3. Beware of monkeys. They are absolutely not to be trusted at all.
    4. Big or small, boats are fun! (Unless you get seasick, in which case I apologize for being the happy hyper blonde girl talking about how much fun boats are while you were vomiting.)
    5. Working on farms is an awesome way to live cheap or free and see a different part of culture.
    6. There is something delicious about having sex in foreign countries. Double delicious with a foreigner. Triple if they don’t speak your language very well (or at all).
    7. Chronicle your journey: years from now you will be so happy you blogged or journaled.

MG 1685 100 little things that travel has taught me

    1. Invest in a comfortable pair of sandals.
    2. Bored? People watch. Make up stories about strangers.
    3. The world is smaller than you think.
    4. Learn the tipping policies of whatever country you are in and adhere to them.
    5. More smiling. Less bitching. No matter how miserable you feel, your friends back at home would still trade places with you in a heartbeat.
    6. Be wary of accepting tea from merchants, especially in Islam countries, it is how they trap you long enough to hear their full sales pitch.
    7. Always have spare toilet paper with you.
    8. The famous Koh Phangan Full Moon parties are overrated. There are smaller more intimate parties all over Thailand without thousands of puking, littering, stumbling eighteen year olds. No offense, I was the same way when I was eighteen. But I’m not anymore and have higher party standards.
    9. Don’t be a chump, but generosity is a good trait.
    10. Wading through crocodile swamps is rarely a good idea.
    11. Quitting smoking while on the road is damn near impossible.
    12. Don’t touch the dogs in Bali.  Don’t go near them. Please.
    13. Spending the day looking at street art can be just as rewarding as paying to visit a museum. And will be much cheaper.
    14. “Spicy” has different meanings in different countries. And different chilis can be spicier than nearly identical ones.
    15. Deep fried bugs aren’t as gross as you would think, especially after a night of drinking in Phnom Penh.

MG 1526 100 little things that travel has taught me

    1. Food poisoning sucks, but is a rite of passage.
    2. Sometime you have to embrace clichés.
    3. No one wants to buy your friendship bracelets. But they will wear them as anklets for free!
    4. Just because you’re on the road does not give you the excuse to slack on hygiene.
    5. It does however mean you don’t have to shave. As often anyways.
    6. Latino lover stereotypes are basically true. The good ones and the bad ones.
    7. Don’t touch Asian people on the head. No matter how cute they are.  It’s rude.
    8. Respect the elderly wherever you are.
    9. Life is a celebration.
    10. Bring snacks for airplane, bus, and train rides.
    11. The easiest way to adjust to time changes is to make yourself go to sleep at whatever time you would at home in your new zone, whether it means staying up for twenty-four hours, or dosing yourself with a Tylenol PM early.
    12. It’s nothing personal babe, but snuggling just doesn’t work in tropical countries with no AC.
    13. Pack one little black dress that is wrinkle-proof.
    14. Sarongs have a plethora of uses.
    15. Please stop littering. This isn’t a travel lesson, this is a life lesson.
    16. Not all who wander are lost.
    17. Coconuts are full of electrolytes and will make you feel better after a long night of drinking, food poisoning, travel, etc.

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    1. It’s nice to have a fake wedding ring handy.
    2. Drinking with locals is the best way to learn a new language.
    3. Earplugs.
    4. Read books that take place in the location you are visiting for plenty of daydream material.
    5. Make a Couch Surfer account
    6. Call your parents just enough so they don’t worry, no matter how old you are, they are still your parents.
    7. Trust your instincts.
    8. Buy travel insurance.
    9. You can wear the smallest bikini in the world in Brazil, but for some reason you can’t sunbathe topless.
    10. You actually can’t sunbathe topless in a lot of countries, research before you strip.
    11. Good luck finding a burger in India.
    12. A deck of cards will give you hours of entertainment and help you make friends.
    13. Cockroaches, however disgusting, will not actually hurt you.
    14. Guard your passport with your life. Get an under the clothes travel wallet. Please don’t get those ones that go around your neck, they are sooooo ugly and you can see them right through clothes.
    15. Research local laws. You never know what weird things may be illegal and/or frowned upon.
    16. Talking with other travelers will teach you more than checking government websites.
    17. Even if you don’t believe in karma, karma believes in you.
    18. Ask before you take pictures of people.
    19. Eat less things that come in plastic packaging and more things that grow on trees.
    20. Stop and smell the flowers. Especially plumerias.

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    1. Even if it doesn’t make you look cool or the law doesn’t require it, wear a helmet while on a motorbike whenever possible.
    2. Tigerbalm has multiple uses.
    3. There is a 95% chance that anything “designer” you buy on the street isn’t. Ray Bans do not equal Ray Bands.
    4. Don’t just rely on GPS for road trips. Sometimes the old fashioned way is better.
    5. Don’t leave your purse on the table at the bar while you stumble to the bathroom with your friends. (Yeah… I know…I did a lot of stupid stuff when I was eighteen.)
    6. Beware that when you see the word “happy” before food or drink (happy-pizza, happy-shake, happy-omelet, etc), it might not be the kind of happy you’re used to. And don’t worry, the rainbow dragons are your friends and will be gone tomorrow back in their magical kingdom.
    7. Mini sewing kit.
    8. Calm down. Just because you can’t post about it online does not make it less real.
    9. No one ever said travel is easy. We all get lonely and homesick.
    10. No matter what your beliefs are, respect the local culture. You are a guest.
    11. Once you get home, print out some of your favorite photos. When you’re old, are you going to want to pull up your old Facebook page to show your grandkids the pictures, or would you rather pull out a box full of treasures?
    12. Wear sunscreen.
    13. If you get sunburned, immediately pop an ibprofin, take a cold shower, and slather yourself with sunscreen when you get out. You know how when you get out of the sun you keep on turning redder? These things will stop the burn from intensifying.
    14. Ziploc bags do come in handy. As do credit cards.
    15. Skinny dip in tropical water under a full moon at least once.

MG 1392 100 little things that travel has taught me

  1. Riding camels is AWESOME! (And just a little stinky. But mostly awesome.)
  2. Stick to your fitness routine. Yoga on the road helps me so much. Even five minutes every morning of stretching makes a difference.
  3. Flipflops come and go. It’s better not to get too attached.
  4. Its simpler to pack lots of accessories, than it is to pack lots of clothes. Plus you’ll pick up new threads on the road anyways.
  5. A day spent doing nothing in a hammock is a day well spent.
  6. There are always more mistakes to be made, more lessons to learn, more adventure to be had, and more sunsets to watch. If there is a way to travel without making mistakes, learning lessons, having adventures, and watching sunsets, then I don’t want to do it.

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What are some lessons you have learned from travel? Leave them in the comments below please so others may learn from your mistakes!

photo credits: katja hentschel: polaroid, laptop, insects, waterfall girl; mrsdkrebs: tattoo map, littlelakes: coconut, fmgbains: flowers, all others: author’s own

* post written by Kyra Bramble. To read more of Kyra’s, check out her website.

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136 Comments »

  • Katja said:

    awesome <3

  • Frankie said:

    Love this list. Will revisit many times. And P.S. Kyra, I’m that girl throwing up and chucking dirty looks your way as you enjoy boats of all sizes ;-) x

  • Arianwen said:

    I love ‘embarazado’ does not mean ‘embarrassed’. Great tip about the sunburn too. I’d totally get tattoos as souvenirs if I wasn’t worried about the cleanliness of the needle. I guess that one depends a lot on where you are. Really nice post :)

  • Emma said:

    Awesome tips and they bring back great memories too! My own travel tip: Bring lots of rubberbands, I put them in pockets, around bottles, around your wrist, etc. You never know when you want to put your hair back or use them to tie something down, or together.

  • Kelly said:

    Kyra thanks for the link, I love this one!!!! Very clever and entertaining! And such wisdom you speak!!!!! My number one thing I have learnt from travel is that you have to let go of what you dont have control over. Travel has taught me so much about surrender. I remember waiting around in Thailand at a bus stop in the heat after traveling for 12 hours and the bus for the last part of the journey was three hours later than they said it would be and I was getting so worked up! But there was nothing I could do! So, instead of freaking out and not doing myself or the situation any good, I chose a few of your tips- got a coconut, got out a pack of cards and chilled. Its Thailand afterall, not peak hour in a London tube, chances are you will be in hammock with a cocktail just in time for sunset! And if not, there is always tomorrow! Thanks for the reminders!!!! Xoxoxoxo

  • Katja said:

    i learned that it’s OK to travel with a backpack full of dresses and high heels and then you can very well stay in the $2 dollar room in the crappiest hotel in town while still wearing $30 lipstick which you’ve applied with the help of the camera on your iphone.

  • marie said:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE! Great article!

  • Lighthouse said:

    I love the world map tattoo photo. Very unique.

  • jardness said:

    this is so nice!! valid tips and I’ve personally used many of em. thanks for sharing this!

  • Kate Adams said:

    This old woman says”Good for you,girl” When and if you are housebound with disease or aged bones, you can live a full life again in those memories. And your tat will be the one spot of brightness on an old droopy body. The nurses will, as they did in my eldest daughters last days say” Wow! That’s interesting. Tell me about what is means.” Keep on living your days and enjoying every moment. You make me proud to be a female!!! Kate in NY

  • Lindsey said:

    I have copied and pasted these into a word document. I have a plan to get maps of Michigan (where I’m from), the US, and the world, frame them, hang them on my wall and put pins in every where I’ve traveled. I want to display this list with the maps. Would this be okay?

  • Kirsten said:

    When a camel sits down, lean backwards then quickly lean forwards…or else you will fall. Also, they don’t spit, but they do drool. And Finally, if you are ever in Jerusalem make the trip to the Sea Level Camel (it’s about a 10 minute drive out of the city on the side of the highway)and be sure to bring your camera, because the guy can teach you some cool things you didn’t know about your OWN camera… seriously.

  • Kristen J. - Hopscotch the Globe said:

    Great post! I should do one of these as well, although I’m sure ours would be pretty similar. Just came across your site while on StumbUpon. Will be following:)

  • Bart said:

    “Experience is the sum of your mistakes”
    Ps: When i hire people my most important question is exactly that: what were your biggest mistakes?
    If i don’t get 5 and meaningfull examples, i don’t hire.
    Great post. ‘Joi de vivre ‘as the french call it.
    All the best,
    B.

  • Juanpa said:

    Got to make my own list!!
    Nice work.

  • Wally said:

    When you find a truly special place don’t post it on the web it will be gone within 2 years.
    Never tell someone or post that you travel a lot, it is just indecorous.

  • Rayyan Haries said:

    Experienced mos to these whil backpacking!

  • Tamber said:

    This list has inspired me to write a better version. Mine will not include the ultra twee number 100.

  • Alison B. said:

    Ha I agree that sarongs have a plethora of uses… I never travel without one! Blanket, pillow, beach towel, towel, dress, cover up… you name it!

  • MdAmor said:

    You have learned a lot in your travels. Keep it up.

  • Aaron said:

    I need to make my own list. Seems like you’ve learned a lot traveling. Wish I was on the “same boat” so to speak. Ha.

  • Ofir said:

    On the plane, Do not go into the toilet when you wearing only socks

  • General said:

    What a Lovely site . I have lean a lot of things now keep it up

  • General said:

    What a Lovely site . I have lean a lot of things now keep it up .

  • Conrad said:

    I am a bit drunk (not that much, no worries) but are you sure about ‘Flipflops come and go. It’s better not to get too attached’?

    I miss them badly.

    Your, Conrad

  • Conrad said:

    i missed the s, be kind an edit it to perfection.

    Thanks,

    Yours, Conrad. Ta! I did it!

  • Jen said:

    Great List. I would add to be weary of rival sports teams playing each other, especially in championship games. Watching the game in a public space can be fun, there can be celebrations in the streets afterwords or unsettling riots.

  • Lucy said:

    Thanx a lot)funny and useful. good work!

  • Vicky said:

    Love this list! Haha especially the embarazado note – I too learned that one the hard way when studying abroad in Madrid!

  • Scott said:

    Rain coat and mini umbrella, book a place to stay before leaving the city you’re in (read reviews), shower shoes.

  • Kyra said:

    Thanks everyone for all the great feedback and additional tips! This is a list that could go on indefinitely… Awesome!

    @Lindsey- of course!!!!

  • felix said:

    great advice! also, marry me?

  • Eddie Heakin said:

    Pretty much spot on there. I can’t think of anything to add, everything is covered. Instantly reminds of my travels and all the experiences I had and people I met. Top stuff!!

  • Brian said:

    If they tell you it’s free it’s probably not free. :)

  • visitukraine said:

    thanks. useful information

  • Greg Goodman said:

    So many of those ring a bell! Wonderful post.

    “Embarazado” DOES NOT mean “embarrassed.”
    Made that mistake!

    Also once told a pregnant woman that she must be excited to get the “pedo” off her stomach. Thought I was saying “peso” (weight). Actually said fart! Oops.

  • Stephanie said:

    From my first trip alone (without anyone I knew before) I learned that you as a #1 Rule:SHOULD NEVER BE SHY! I have been regretting some things I wish I’d done back in my trip even though I learned so kuch and had such an amazing time.
    Awesome writing girl, thanks for sharing it.

  • Maki | Moon River Travels said:

    LOL! @ Greg Goodman!

    I love this list! I hope to make my own after much traveling as well :)

  • Omayra said:

    Beautifully said. I am definitely sharing this with my flight attendant friends/co-workers. A lot of truth in your post as well as humor. LOVE it!

  • Awais said:

    Great Article… Loved it

  • vegashag said:

    Great tips! Adding my own two cents – I always stash emergency cash (for cab fare, etc.) in a different location from my normal cash/traveler’s checks. There are a lot of hackers stealing credit card information from people in public places (i.e. AIRPORTS, etc.) with a hand-held computerized reader. Protect yourself from identity theft by using a stainless steel wallet or credit card holder (not as silly as it sounds). This blocks the reader. I take a small powerstrip with me when I travel as many hotel rooms and ship’s cabins have insufficient power outlets for more than one or two appliances. Duct tape can cure a multitude of travel boo-boos. I also always take extra Ziploc bags and rubber bands. If you take prescription medication, make sure you have MORE than adequate supplies with you, and a list of these medications in your belongings. If you wear a Medic-Alert bracelet, take a spare along in case you lose it.

  • Branden said:

    Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the images on this
    blog loading? I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  • Coisas que aprendi viajando | TerramundiTerramundi said:

    [...] ficar para toda a vida. E pensando nisso as simpáticas meninas do Travelettes fizeram uma lista de 100 pequenas coisas que elas aprenderam viajando. Do aprendizado mais pessoal e simples como “Não encoste nos cachorros em Bali. E nem chegue [...]

  • Zachery said:

    Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research on this.
    We got a grab a book from our area library
    but I think I learned more clear from this post.
    I’m very glad to see such fantastic information being shared freely out there.

  • silvinagreta said:

    Great list. Some are so recognizable. Put a smile on my face.

  • Carole Brow said:

    Great post. I love to travel and do it as often and as long as I can. And when I can’t do it really, I love to read and talk about travel. So this post was a treat for me. You hit most of my best travel lessons learned, but I would add two more.

    1. Take aspirin BEFORE you expose your skin to a long period of sunlight. Aspirin causes your capillaries to dilate so more blood reaches your skin which helps carry away the by-products of too much sun. Plus, it causes the pigment in your skin to lay flat which keeps the radiation from penetrating too deeply. And aspirin’s anti-inflammatory effect will help heal any sunburn you get anyway.

    2. Welcome the opportunity to travel solo. When you travel with even one other person, you spend more time being attentive to your companion and less to being open to talking to local people. And local people will be more apt to strike up a conversation with you when they don’t feel like they are intruding on your conversation with a travel companion. Many of my best travel memories are from solo trips.

  • Andrea MacEachern said:

    Great post! Travel certainly is the best way to learn new things and more is learned from simply traveling than anything else!

  • Knox said:

    After reading dozens of these types of blog posts I must say that yours was of great help, as I’m backpacking in Germany for a few weeks this may, great tips and I love your outlook on life/travel/love! Hopefully I will keep this in the ole noggin during my travels.

    Guten Tag

  • Nery Mejicano said:

    Great site. Thanks for sharing your travel wisdom. Travel is the best education. If you see a group of tourist following a sign (or flag) run the other way. Eat and drink like the locals. Do not ever refuse a gift. Do not ask personal questions. They may, but refrain. Thanks again.

  • Louisa said:

    This is great! So true..
    I would also add, learn to accept and then embrace your own company (you need this if you’re travelling alone) and, whenever possible, try not to book more than 3 days in advance where youre next headed… speak to everyone you meet and ask where they’d recommend nearby. Then go! Also, take a book and sign your name when you finish, swapping it in a book depository. Maybe in another time, another hostel, another country, youll find a book you read a lifetime ago!

  • Adam said:

    Amazing post. Thank you

  • Molly said:

    Great post! I’ve learned a lot of that the hard way as well, but it really is all part of the experience!

  • Annika said:

    Be aware of cows in India! They are not as harmless as you might think…

  • Terry King said:

    A great post! Very true about motorbike helmets…

  • Larissa said:

    Love the list(s). My most valuable lesson is that travel is all about collecting experiences. I want to have less stuff and be rich with experiences.

  • Emma @ GottaKeepMovin said:

    Love all of these! Especially ‘Mini sewing kit’ and ‘embarazada does NOT mean embarrassed!!!’ You will definitely not be te first person to have a mix-up with that I’m sure! Kind of feel like making one of these lists myself now – good job!

  • Vinay said:

    Nice tips. I made some mistakes while I traveled.

  • caitlin said:

    Always watch your language, Even if you think the people dont know english odds are they have heard our popular cuss words and may take offense.

  • Dina Abdelraheem said:

    Thanks for the tips :) )
    When u travel just go and do whatever u want.. Don’t let ur group or friends discourage you… We r born free and free we shall live
    Enjoy every little thing to the maximum
    Get lost u will explore more and learn things faster

  • GG said:

    WOAH THERE! Good luck finding a burger in India? You haven’t been here recently have you?

  • Lili said:

    1. Bring mosquito repelant with you.
    2. Don’t take aspirin in a tropical country when you feel sick, it’s possible to have Dengue fever. Aspirin + Dengue fever = death

  • Immanuel bayu said:

    I like this post…
    thank you for sharing with me..
    :) )

  • Gayla said:

    These are really great lessons and I strongly encourage travelers/tourists visiting a foreign country to learn a few basic words in the local language. You’re right, it will get you farther than you think. I also encourage journaling or blogging about your adventures, no matter how boring you think they may be…there will always be someone who’ll want to read about them. I know I would :-)

  • Anja van der Vorst said:

    What a cool post! Lots of great thoughts and ideas.

    I know and totally agree with the durian ban on public transport; that smell!!! And monkeys are great to photograph, but can be very nasty with big teeth. They are now sweet animals.

    What are carabineers for then?

    Why does your numbering not just go from 1 to 100? Is there a reason?

    Thanks for sharing!

  • KD said:

    Very interesting and comprehensive list, thank you !

  • Shane said:

    WOW! you just put into words a lot of the things I have also learned through travel! Excellent article, well done!

  • Vidit said:

    Brilliant!!

    oh and you do get burgers in India, yes just like the ones in west. Agreed not easy to find.

  • goatfella said:

    “What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.”

    Unless it’s a crippling accident or a debilitating disease.
    Yeah I know, my glass is always half-empty. D:

  • Wednesday said:

    Do not trust the bus driver when he says the last bus leaves at 5 p.m. Take the second from the last bus unless you want to walk back to town from that nifty archaeological site.

  • Pedrotski said:

    Great list, and very comprehensive! :)

    One thing I would add is to annotate the back of your pictures once you have printed them with the names of the people and places concerned. It’s amazing how similar one beach can look to another after a while, and how frustrating it is not to remember a name.

    Another life lesson I learned is to listen to others instead of talking so much myself, you will be a lot more popular and will be counted wiser for it. A little encouragement will get you some fascinating stories to tell your grandchildren.

  • Joey said:

    cockroaches do bite!!!!!!

  • Paramjeet said:

    Great Post! I can relate to almost all of the lessons to my experience traveling in south east Asia.

  • Frank said:

    Fantastic list! What’s the story about dogs in Bali?

  • Joanne said:

    Have always wanted to travel (solo) extensively but had children rather early and recently remarried, so I have caught a bit of flack about why I’d want to do things alone. *sigh* Maybe one day.

    Nevertheless, when I do travel, I make it a point to, at the very least, get a good, long glimpse at a map of the city I am visiting. Helps to know the major landmarks, the directions of the major roads, the outer limits of the city, etc. I have been lost countless times but due to having looked at a map, even briefly, was able to find my way back to a familiar place by understanding the infrastructure of the city. (It also helps to learn the orientation of the city to East/West/North/South so you can navigate by sun in case everything else fails.) It also builds confidence in that if you are lost, you don’t feel quite so helpless.

    Another travel tip I learned is that if you’re in a rental (or borrowed) car, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the car before heading off. You may need those headlights or windshield wipers or the doors locked/unlocked/window up or down in a hurry and you’ll want to be able to do so. One wrong turn and you can end up in some very scary places without warning. Your life could depend on it.

    Lastly, as cute and trendy as sandals or flip-flops are, if you’re going to do a LOT of walking, good-quality, good-fitting, supportive, cushioned sneakers are a must! We have season passes to, and live just minutes from, Busch Gardens. We are there with kids or grandkids at least once a week and thanks to wearing sneakers, never have blisters or sore feet. (Even did four Disney parks and Sea World in three days this way and my feet were much better than the flip-flop wearers in the family.) In the places flip-flops ARE best-suited, such as water parks or beaches, pick ones that your feet aren’t going to slip around in when wet. (Shower-type rubber flips are notorious for this.) Slipping is not only annoyingly squeaky but can result in falls, blisters or broken toes. Sanuk makes a great suede-bottomed flip flip that works well.

  • Joanne said:

    Remembered some more travel tips:

    When renting a car for a long, boring road trip, a lot of people bring audio books. My husband and I ensure the car has an aux outlet so we can plug in our iPod and listen to episodes of Radiolab, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, The Moth Radio Hour, This American Life, etc. (This is also helpful on long plane rides. Sharing headphones for mutual fun is very easy.) Makes the hours pass by much faster! However, for the more scenic or picturesque road trips, this can be a bit cumbersome because it’s hard to point out and share neat things without interrupting the show. That’s where music is a bit more appropriate.

    Entertaining tweens/teens on long trips can be tough. We downloaded some great educational (but fun) games onto their tablets and my laptop. Nancy Drew Mysteries games are a blast for both boys and girls and it takes days to complete a game, thereby keeping boredom at bay. When younger, Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego was great fun for them as well.

    When hiking, what some might consider a “moderate” hike, could be rather steep or taxing for others. Always carry more water than you think you’ll need in case you need to help someone who needs it. (I have blessed more people this way as well as having been blessed myself!)

    Also, for female travelers, rigorous exercise can radically affect your menstrual cycle. Your body can quickly go from barely spotting to practically hemorrhaging in no time. Extra protection including pads for leakage, paper towels, Ziploc bags for sanitary disposal and additional water for cleaning up is always a good idea. Doesn’t hurt to have a spare pair of running shorts in your possession in the case of embarrassing accidents, too.

    Carrying a pocket knife while hiking can also be very useful. I had on a pair of drawstring pants and needed the drawstring but it was sewn in. Voila! Pocketknife to the rescue.

    When hiking, keep an eye out for restrooms or picnic areas as many have water pumps or faucets which can come in handy for refilling water bottles, washing off poison ivy oils, cleaning wounds from falls, clearing debris out of an eye, removing blood from clothing, etc. (Can you tell I’ve had a good many mishaps?)

  • Joanne said:

    Just when I hit send, I remember even more!

    My husband and I like to sleep with white noise in the background. While earplugs work to block out some noises, you can still hear yourself breathing, which can be annoying. When we are able to stay in hotels, we stop by a drug store or someplace like WalMart and buy a small fan. The hum of the fan means we don’t hear other travelers in the hallways or neighboring rooms. Then, when our trip is over, we return it in good working order and get a refund.

    There are many remote places, even in the States, with no cell phone coverage which means if you’re using your phone for GPS, you’re screwed. (I have found this is the case on lots of lakes, ski slopes, hiking trails.) This also means you can’t call someone for directions or even help in case of an emergency. Always have a backup plan in case something happens. Cars break down, roads get washed out, ski slopes get icy, etc. There are dozens of plan Bs you can make: Carry an actual map, carry something brightly colored or reflective to flag someone down for help, carry walkie-talkies to communicate with friends, or if you’re alone, make plans to call/meet someone at a particular time with instructions to get help if x amount of time passes without you showing up.

    Anti-chafing products are a lifesaver when hiking/walking a lot, especially in wet clothes. Once you have blisters or raw skin, the rest of the trip can be miserable.

    Vaseline has a myriad of uses. Great for chapped lips, dry skin, getting stuck rings off swollen fingers, removing makeup, soothing rashes. I always carry a small tube of it around.

    I hate having to reapply lipstick, so I searched high and low for one that doesn’t wear off. The best one I found lasts between 6 and 10 hours depending on the color. It’s Revlon ColorStay and the longest lasting color is Faithful Fawn. Great, neutral color that goes with almost anything, which is wonderful for quick switches from day to night.

    Waterproof mascara isn’t always waterproof. They’re more like tear-proof. Water parks, oceans, lakes, showers and sweat can leave smudges. Use window reflections to check for raccoon eyes on occasion.

    Caffeine and alcohol, especially beer, are diuretics. Always know where the nearest bathroom is! And if you’re over 40, go often. You could be one sneeze or cough away from disaster!

  • Ivo said:

    Travel is really nice teacher. I like this one: “Carabineers are not just for rockclimbing”
    Cheers,
    Ivo

  • ruchita@travelopod.com said:

    Love your post. Its really exhaustive but definitely has great pointers for any kind of travel. I have made my own subset from this list and saved it … I am sure my next trip is going to be more organized!

  • Michael Deitsch said:

    Enjoy your easy to read an follow bullet points. I can relate to many of your tips and leaned many new things in the process. Bad planning can ruin a great trip so thank your for sharing your experiences.

  • Michael Deitsch said:

    Enjoy your easy to read an follow bullet points. I can relate to many of your tips and learned many new things in the process. Bad planning can ruin a great trip so thank your for sharing your experiences.

  • Sara Hardman said:

    Love this! Really interesting and useful post. Totally agree that “Your whole life can change in a month, but your hometown will be just as you left it.” After two years away there was something both comforting and infuriating about that.

  • Hiller lake said:

    I’m agree with what you say, but Tattoos, no way.

  • Weekly Link Roundup ← book TRAVELS said:

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  • Cathie said:

    These made me laugh, especially since I’ve recently picked up my study abroad journal from 1997-1998 and started posting it online. Right now I’m still two months into the journey and am just starting to get the feel of things. We didn’t have blogs then, and I’m happy about that, because the journal is full of embarrassing things, ignorant things, really. If you’d like, you can follow along at From Beirut to Jupiter, http://frombeiruttojupiter.blogspot.com/.

  • Kari said:

    #8 I do pickup a lonely planet book before I visit a place but I find they quickly go out of date. Recent one I had on Japan actually didn’t have the correct addresses for a lot the restaurants I tried to visits, streets change too. They are still good guides in principle, they just aren’t foolproof.

  • Glenn said:

    Great list.
    Loved it. (totally agree about the monkeys)
    One to add: Always (if you can) pack your backpack the same way.
    So that you can find things in the dark. Every time.

  • Yengkhom said:

    Wow! that is a very nice blog you’ve written. I liked the pictures associated with this as well. Coconut water definitely is filled with electrolytes and is a natural drink.

  • Vivian Michaels said:

    Best article and great experience !! will do this when i go on my new travel location.

  • o Carroll said:

    Carry something with you for children – not sweets (especially in countries with no dentists). I carry balloons – they are light, easy to carry, and fun!

  • John said:

    This one’s hard to condense but it’s my top travel rule. The real peak experiences are rarely the ones listed in LP or any other guide book; they’re the ones that happen when you put yourself in harm’s way often enough that eventually something wildly cool will happen to you.

  • Vineet said:

    Liked the plumeria bit :-)

  • Carmen Henesy said:

    A smile is a universal language…

    Now that I am 68 & have arthritis, squatting to urinate is really hard on my knees. My best investment was a women’s “urinal” – mine even came with a long tubing! It’s great for standing up – in dirty train car bathrooms, out in the woods where you might not want to squat on poison ivy, etc, etc. Rinse it out and use it over and over. It has saved my life.

  • Barbara said:

    Loved this list.

    My tip: carry a water bottle and a bag of loose leaf tea and a silver tea bullet for cheap, hot drinks anywhere, anytime. When I was backpacking, a lot of places made me pay a few pennies for a cup of hot water, and I would make myself a cup of tea for carrying around town.

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  • Rental homes said:

    Wonderfully put journey of your travel :) thanks

  • Saffy said:

    Love the flip-flops one… always a sad moment when I have to leave a pair behind!

  • BakoymaTravels said:

    Don’t be afraid to travel alone is my lesson. I love sharing the experience with friends, but after I started travelling solo I have discovered my own little paradise within :-)

    Thanks for sharing this awesome post, there are some really good tips in here! :-)

  • Glenn said:

    This is the coolest thing I have read on stumble upon, I will be printing it and taking it with me the first time I leave the U.S.

    -Glenn

  • Anna said:

    Good apart from the ‘avoiding dogs’ one. making friends with friendly street dogs is always a good idea. Street dogs are usually more balanced than pet dogs in your own country. Just use your dog sense. If they dont want to be bothered dont. If they do, give them some love! The diseases they can carry (most don’t) are rarely transmitted to humans. If you are bitten (which is highly unlikely) get yourself vaccinated!

  • madeira holidays said:

    I love travel… Wonderfully put journey of your travel.

  • Elle at Spain Buddy said:

    What a great list! I nearly clicked off and away when I saw the word “List”… but actually yours has had a huge amount of work put into it – thanks!

    Am feeling the need for a spot of bimbling just now. Time to pack up the dogs and the old man into the car and drive off into the sunset… or the sunrise… or… or… wherever really!

    Happy travelling!

    Elle xx

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  • daksh said:

    inspiring!

  • Elaine said:

    Love your post! And your tattoo! Makes me itch for another =) When I got my last tattoo, a girl next to me got the EXACT same tattoo as the one on your back! Just an outline of all the continents….she said that she wanted to add little “thumbtack” tats for every place she has been and will go. Did you happen to get this tattoo in Austin? lol that would be weird!

  • mk said:

    nice sharing,i agree with you….experience will be good teacher for us…it’s matter of time.

  • Gav said:

    Hmmmm… I would ass , no matter how idealistic you are and no matter how awesome travel is – remember that EVERYTHING costs money. Best to have at least a months travel over your head, then stop and top up if you can.

  • Gauv said:

    If there’s a body of water nearby, spend some time there. There’s ALWAYS something happening on or by the water.

  • Leigh said:

    From my years of travel I learnt, never left home without my hairdryer and straightners. I may have been backpacking but I could still look good doing it. My friends use to laugh all the time but you know how many of them borrowed those items from me. hee hee.

    Also getting lost in a city was one of the best ways to discover that city. Safely of course.

    Travel opens your mind and eyes.

  • Nick said:

    Fantastic list. It’s made me want to get out and travel some more! I was nodding my head to most of the points in the list. Definitely agree with the point about buying expensive imported booze. That can really eat up your budget!

  • Chris said:

    What a lovely list. I like the photos too. I agree we can learn a lot from traveling. Learn how to bargain is what I have learnt from my recent trip to China.

  • Noah said:

    Venice is no place for the lonely.

    Learn the tube systems of cities. Cabbies waiting at a train station or airport are there looking for you, Mr./Ms. ForeignLanguageSpeaker with lots of cash.

    Even if it’s not in your nature – strike up conversations with fellow travelers and natives. Shared traveling experiences with perfect strangers are very powerful. Be social, and do it boldly.

  • Catherine said:

    I’ve found the word “toilet” and an urgent look is all you REALLY need to get through most any foreign country. Also, “OK” is universal.

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  • Julie said:

    In fact, you CAN buy burgers in India. They do have McDonalds, but of course not burgers with beef. Instead they have several burgers with chicken and fish, of whom we have never heard of here in Denmark before. :)

    My nr. 1. rule while traveling: always follow the locals, while looking for a good place to eat. They know what’s good and the prices will be fair.

    - Julie

  • Cristina @ Marginal Boundaries said:

    Thanks so much for the great inspiration!

  • BarefootMedStudent said:

    Excellent. Traveled the world (well, parts of it) by ship this year and loved it, but your list probably would have helped me a lot!
    Really love your blog!

  • Evelyn Gallardo said:

    If you’re an adventure traveler, they’re are some countries where you just shouldn’t:
    1) Drink the water
    2) Eat raw vegetables
    3) Eat unpeeled fruit.

  • Leah said:

    About not touching Asian people’head, it is rude. Indeed.

  • Lily Nguyen said:

    I love your list

  • Siddhartha Joshi said:

    Awesome! Loved it :)

  • AkwaabaGolden said:

    I loved this post! And have to say I’m familiar with many of the things on the list :)

  • Christine said:

    Carry a small loaded water pistol for brazen monkeys. Harmless, but shocking enough to make then flee. It seems like overkill to carry a water pistol? Have your bag stolen by a baboon. You’ll change your mind.Besides , it might work on amorous drunks as well. :)

  • Charles Wolf said:

    Don’t be embarrassed to buy inexpensive locally-made items as souvenirs whenever you can get them. (Preferably not the plastic “Made in China” kind.) You can fill your house with them and they will remind you of all the places you’ve seen. Each piece is unusual and tells a story — where you got it, when you got it, what you were doing there, who was with you, etc.

  • Terra said:

    Great list! My biggest piece of advice: stay in a hostel when possible. Not only is it cheap but you can trade stories with heaps of people who are also travelling and the staff is local enough to give good insider information.

  • Paul Scoropan said:

    In this article you show to us another face of traveling.

  • Justinn said:

    Great write up I have to agree with your post, I’ve learned many of these things travel.

    -One tip I’d add is don’t always hide behind your camera take Eye pictures (your memory)

    -Watch how often you take out your phone or camera, depending on the country people with rip it out of your hands without second though.

  • S Green said:

    Don’t ask for a “napkin” in an Australian Restaurant.

  • Wilson Ng said:

    Inspiring words and great pictures!

    Wilson

  • Freshgrub said:

    Awesome, awesome list.

    My lesson:
    In some countries you can buy Panties in a vending machine.

    http://freshgrub.net

  • Anna said:

    Love this post! Some very true points that I recognise, some I didn’t know and many that made.me laugh and remember all those mishaps and lessons learnt in my first few months of traveling

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  • MIke M said:

    Awesome Nice list(s). Ill forgo some of the women only rules!

    My rules about travel:

    - Encourage your kids to travel as much as you/they are able. A graduation gift of travel will be much more appreciated then a check.

    - Ask the locals, ask the hotel concierge where to to eat. My best meals were always at the local spots, the food trucks, etc.

    - People love if a visitor shows interest in their world, their culture, etc. Never be standoffish.

    - You are missing out if you don’t even try a local dish that may scare you. No matter if you love it or it makes you throw up…you will have a memory forever. If you do not try it you will have no memory.

    - Unless you are on a really long trip and need to keep in contact with friends and family…lay off the FB posts, instagrams etc while you are on your trips. You can do all that when you return home. Posting while you are on a trip reeks of ” look at me” syndrome

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  • Blah said:

    How do you afford all of this. That’s what I’m curious about. What real person just has the time or money to just travel and afford things like a brand new Mac book pro? I doubt this girl has really learned one true “life lesson.” I smell a trust fund baby.

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