There is always a reason not to do something. Just go!
This is one piece of advice that a hot guy gave me nearly 20 years ago that has always stuck in my head. I can hear a little voice chanting this over and over whenever I have a decision to make. But it’s so true! There might never be a perfect time to travel, you’re always going to owe money to someone whether it be a student loan, credit card or a mortgage! Your best friend or partner might never be keen on running with the bulls in Pamplona or flying over 24 hours to get to Europe. Your parents might always think it’s too dangerous to leave your own country and be in your ear about “What if you get kidnapped?!!” Or you might have young children that make travel challenging. And of course there’s always someone’s birthday, engagement party or wedding. That’s life! And if you let these things prevent you from discovering the world…well…you will never be on your way to the airport.
It comes down to priorities I guess and if you really want to get some stamps in that passport, some awesome travel stories and actually hike the Grand Canyon. You’ll find a way. Whether it be working abroad to pay off that student loan, renting out your house while you’re gone, going solo and making lots of new friends when you are there or making it up to someone for missing their birthday by sending them a postcard from a far off, exotic country. My advice here is to think of all those reasons that YOU should go and what YOU want to do and see. Then…take the leap and just go! The perfect time is now.
Take half as much stuff as you think you need
I’m a little bit of a jack of all trades, I don’t think I’m particularly awesome at anything. Although one thing I’ll stick my hand up and say I’m awesome at is packing a bag (If anyone wants to trade this skill for a great singing voice message me). My number one rule of thumb when it comes to packing is to take half of what you think you need. They do have shops in other countries you know, so if you happen to get caught short you can always purchase it there. Personally 90% of the time I now only take carry-on luggage with me. So that means my bag is limited to around 7kg. Some of you might be absolutely horrified at this but believe me it’s definitely possible to do it without missing out on anything necessary. Unless of course you think a hairdryer and a curling iron are necessary? I travelled for 4.5 months last year across Asia and Europe with less than 7 kg. See my packing list below for a 4 week walk across Spain (the Camino de Santiago).
Travelling is so much more enjoyable and easier when you don’t have to lug a huge backpack or suitcase around. It’s also cheaper as you can just walk instead of having to catch public transport because your bag is breaking your arms. Of course it depends on the type of trip you are taking but for any trip that involves multiple stops, do yourself a favour and halve the luggage! I’m not going to go into detail here on packing tips but for a couple of general tips – put all your toiletries into small containers, use a travel towel if you have to take one, and very carefully choose what shoes you take. Shoes are heavy!
When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
One of the greatest joys of travel is to learn about other people, cultures and places. Different countries are amazing to visit and experience for that very reason…they are different. Do not expect beliefs, rituals, rules, languages and standards to be the same as in your country. In Asia for example people do not line up (queue). Just join in. Don’t shake your head and judge. They’ve been doing it for 1000s of years.
Safety is another area where we need to keep an open mind. Have a look at the two photos below that show standards that are “normal” in many places around the world but might be shocking to you depending on where you are from.
Also, don’t expect a shopkeeper in say Brazil to understand what you’re saying if you speak in English. And I promise you they still won’t understand you if your voice simply gets louder and louder in frustration. Why should they? It’s Brazil!! One language that is universal is a smile. Try it! Smiling, charades and learning a few words in the local language will get you through 90% of travelling scenarios and reward you with more rewarding interactions. Robin Esrock’s TED talk which I have included in my post 7 outrageously awesome and inspiring TED talks explains this idea really well.
The old saying when in Rome, do as the Romans do is timeless advice. Take an open mind and mimic the way locals live whenever you are travelling.
Do you agree with my 3 golden rules of travel? What would be your 4th rule?
Note: Thank you to the Girls Who Travel online group for helping me procure these last two photos.