Advice for Aspiring Long-Term Travelers

– Traveling is different for everyone. The purpose of your travels might be different from the person next to you. Whether you’re doing it for the love of food, sights, people, or whatever else – don’t judge someone else for not wanting to experience what you’re experiencing or experienced.

– Facebook is one of the greatest tools for travelers. It’s great for telling my family and friends at home I’m okay and for asking for advice. I like to keep contact with friends I’ve made on the road. I’ve met friends again and they’ve offered me their couch when I got to their city.

– Sometimes your days will suck. Although you’re traveling, not everyday will as awesome as you may have dreamed. I find that I have several bad days in a row but then a really good day comes and makes every bad day before that seem not so bad in perspective. Traveling can mess with your head. It seems like everything good and bad happens in the extremes. Bad days are really bad and good days are really good. It’s an emotional roller-coaster.

– Something will be stolen or lost. It’s just part of traveling. Expect anything in your bag to disappear. It’s much easier on yourself and you’re better prepared when you have this mindset. It’s never that bad in perspective. Everything can be regained. The experiences can never be taken away.

Backup and protect your computer!

– You won’t be able to capture it all. I love taking pictures but there’s a certain pleasure in not bringing the camera and just enjoying it for what it is. Get use to taking mind pictures because you’ll forget your camera or you won’t be able to bring it out.

Tayrona, Colombia
Tayrona, Colombia

– We’re all travelers here. It doesn’t matter if you’re a backpacker, on a tour, or taking a cruise ship. The fact that you’re traveling is great in itself. This goes for everyone. Don’t be a traveling snob.

– Do things you’re scared of. It doesn’t have to be things that risk your life. You can take dance lessons, learn a new language, cooking courses, or adventures activities.

– It gets lonely sometimes. I’ve done quite a bit of solo traveling and I realized there are times when there’s no one to talk or relate to. It’s not a bad thing and I actually enjoy these days. Enjoy the time you have by yourself. Relax a bit. In reality though, you’re never really alone all that often.

– Be social. Personally, I couldn’t survive traveling without talking to other people. Even traveling as a couple, sometimes we’ll purposely stay in dorms and hang out in the common room so we could talk to people. It’ll come naturally as long as you put yourself in situations that are social. Locking yourself up in your room won’t get you meeting anyone.

– Insure it if it’s important to you. Look into having insurance for your electronics. Insurance companies will want a receipt from the original purchase so save all your receipts. Be sure to read ALL the guidelines. I use State Farm in the US which allows me to insure individual items.

– Get travelers health insurance. It’s so cheap that it doesn’t make sense not to get it. The purpose of getting it is for extreme emergencies. In many cases, your medical bill might be cheaper than your deductible but the whole point of health insurance is for extreme cases. Even if you never end up using it, that should be considered a good thing. You never know though.

– Drink lots of water.

Street food in Xi'an, China
Street food in Xi’an, China

– Eat local foods. Food can tell you so much about a countries culture. Don’t be scared to pick an item out of the menu with your eyes closed. Bonus if you eat in a small family run restaurant instead of going to fast food joints.

– High season, festivals, and holidays can kill your travel plans. They can be unexpected and you’ll at some point arrive on a huge celebration thus making accommodation expensive and traveling around difficult. Enjoy the festivities and don’t stress the costs too much. These events can kill your budget and it’s hard to avoid. Remember to leave room in your budget for these types of situations.

– Ask locals for advice. Ask them anything actually and make conversation. Ask them if it rains often, where you should eat, or what to do in the city. I find taxi’s love chatting. They usually have great stories and can be a good language and cultural lesson.

– Always carry the business card of the hostel or hotel you’re staying at. If you’re lost, just show the taxi driver and you’re good to go. It’s useful in countries you don’t speak the language in.

Quito, Ecuador
Quito, Ecuador

– Always learn a few words of the local language. The very minimum you should learn are Hello and Thank You. The more you learn, the better off you are and the more respect you’ll earn.

– You’re going to run out of money eventually. It’s great to be free spirited and to do things at the last minute but I believe you should always have a Plan B or multiple plans. Plan B doesn’t mean you HAVE to follow it. It’s just a backup. You’ll feel more comfortable once money runs out. I’ve met far too many travelers that start to panic a few weeks before their money runs out and end up going back to what they hated because they had no other choice.

– Slow down. It can be really difficult to immerse yourself and enjoy the destination if you’re on a bus most of the time. If you don’t like a place, move on but if you’re feeling comfortable then stick around a few extra days and get familier with the culture. It’s not a race.

– Be yourself!

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