When I was 22, I thought for sure I knew everything. Then I got a real job, went traveling, got married, and had a child. It turns out I had a lot to learn still. Here’s a bit of what I’ve learned since then when it comes to travel.
You can’t get worthwhile things done without a bit of help.
Even if you run the most solitary business that is completely online, even if you never have to talk to anyone on the phone, it’s next to impossible to succeed without the good faith and assistance of others. When you travel, this is doubly true. Be nice, be useful, be willing to lend a hand. It’s really hard for an asshole to get what he wants on a consistent basis—apart from a few exceptional exceptions like the late Steve Jobs.
Water is Life, but Bottled Water Is Destruction
Drink more water than you think you need when partying, but don’t sweat it so much the rest of the time. The reason most people get hangovers is dehydration and a lack of B vitamins. drink a glass of water for each drink you down at night and you’ll be happier the next day.
But a key reason many travelers break their budget (and wreck the planet) is buying bottled water all day every day. Get something like a SteriPen or Camelbak All Clear and stop screwing Mother Nature.
A lot of good stuff happens when you don’t plan out your whole travel schedule.
If you don’t leave big holes in your plans for great travel surprises, your trip is probably going to be quite predictable. And boring.
Things rarely happen as quickly as you want them to.
Even in the USA, the land of convenience, it takes way longer than you think it should to get through to a human on the phone, to get government forms processed, to get any kind of construction work done on a house. It’s only going to get worse when you go somewhere else—unless you’re moving to Switzerland. Patience goes hand in hand with travel and living abroad.
Most problems on the road can be solved with time, money, or kindness.
You will face many obstacles when you go traveling, from bad plumbing to missed buses to flat tires to finding only one room left in a grotty backwater hotel. Sigh, assess the situation, and either deal with it or fix it. Sometimes just dealing with it is the only option. But if there’s a fix, you’ll usually need more money than you planned, more time than you planned, or some help from a kind stranger. So have some emergency cash and be kind to strangers—even when exasperated. (You do have the right to scream and yell at some point eventually in India. Everyone cracks at some point there…)