Ten Thoughts, Caveats & Such
1. Don’t Steal Opinions
In any given arena, everyone else’s opinions and observations and viewpoints are most likely not yours. My opinions are just my opinions. Don’t handcuff yourself to them. The same goes with travel books, “guides” and so forth. The writer in the Lonely Planet, the NY Times or some travel magazine isn’t you. You aren’t them. I realize there is safety in such trust but the payment for this is missing out on the best experiences which will be unique to you. If anything, feel free to disagree with the next nine thoughts because they are just my opinions. Trust your opinion. Trust yourself. Really.
2. Experiences May Very Well Vary
I think travel is best when it is your journey, your experience, your vision. There are many different ways of accomplishing the same thing. Our experiences may very well vary. I may not like County X and you may love County X. That’s what makes the world go around.
3. Don’t Mortgage Your Future on the Past
Travel is a liquid operation. Places, prices and people change constantly. Weather changes. Food changes. Experiences change. Do you think that great beach destination was fun when it was a warzone? Do you think that horrible city under that dictatorship 15 years ago means it isn’t a great place now? Don’t mortgage your future on the past. Realize that what is written is mostly past experience. Today might be different. Explore on your own terms.
4. No Plan is a Fine Plan
My favourite method of transportation is on foot. Typically, my preferred plan when I get to a city is walking around without a plan. Many people really want to see the Mona Lisa, the Statue of Liberty, the Leaning Tower, the Special Temple, and so forth, and that is cool. I’d just encourage to add some time in to wander without a plan. I usually see more than I ever thought possible by not looking for anything in particular.
5. The Introvert Curse
A traveler sees from a traveler’s perspective and that might not be the same as a local’s perspective. I think both perspectives are both important and valid yet neither is “right” or “true” or “authentic”. Don’t get so caught up in trying to be a cool local that you miss something interesting. Expose yourself a little. Balance that idea with…
6. The Extrovert Curse
Did you visit that exotic country to feel like you were at home? If the pace is slow, go slow. If the prices are typically A, don’t try to flaunt B. If the language is X, don’t automatically force Y. If the locals don’t get loud and obnoxious in the town center, try not to be loud and obnoxious in the town center. The point is, the world is shrinking, and places are becoming very similar to another, which means travel becomes (very easy and) much less rewarding. When we travel somewhere, I think it is important to remember not to introduce “invasive customs” and practices that will strangle the local ones. Leave home at home.
7. Only Your Expectation Was Wrong
Things go wrong when you travel and that is part of the experience. Embrace it. Many valuable experience(s), adventures and connections seem to embed themselves within those episodes. You will learn very much from these experiences. “Wrong” means something deviated from your expectation, nothing more. When you miss your overnight train in Berlin on your first trip to Europe and get stuck overnight with no place to go, realize that while it can suck at that moment, that is what was supposed to happen and will allow you a good story and a good learning experience and perhaps meeting very interesting random people that you will remember forever. Don’t fear things going wrong so strongly that you don’t make a move.
8. Waiting for Stars to Align
Traveling solo can be lonely, but it can also open up magical doors. You can bond with yourself. Traveling as a pair maybe can lead to diversions and divisions, but it gives you more security, comfort and the ability to leverage the help of another. You can increase your bond with another. Traveling as a group is dancing with the devil (I sort of joke…) so let’s stop there…
The point is, nothing is going to be perfect; no matter the shortfalls with your travel plans, make it happen anyways. You will never have the perfect combination of (a) enough money (b) enough company (c) enough time (d) enough confidence. You will always have a good excuse not to go. Think about it.
9. The Off-The-Beaten-Path Crowd
When everyone goes “off-the-beaten path”, it resembles a highway with false signage (This is the Ultrapopular “Off-The-Beaten-Path” Path). Have you ever heard someone say “I like being around a lot of tourists” or “I love the restaurants that have no locals” or “I try to avoid authentic experiences”? Thus I guess I don’t understand when people say the opposite. It is speaking the obvious.
The beaten path, the off-the-beaten path, the in-between-beaten-path—who cares as long as YOU are feeling good. As for me, I am just doing my thing (whatever pathways that traipses across). I have no checklist to accomplish other than enjoy life. Don’t get so caught up in the proof that you are an “authentic traveler” or some nonsense foolishness. Just do your thing and you’ll be much better for it.
10. The Best Guidebook is You
Rely on the instincts of yourself or your companion(s) when you travel. Guidebooks, websites, and blogs can be great resources but terrible “maps” for YOUR adventure. Conquer your fear, trust yourself, explore and take control of your quest. Don’t be a horse with guidebook blinders just because it seems easy and safe.
Until we meet again,