My number one best travel lesson for everyone is: don’t go anywhere. If you take that advice seriously, there’s really no reason for you to read the rest of this.
However, if you find you MUST get on a plane or take to the road or cross a perilous big ocean, I’ve got words of wisdom for when such circumstances cannot be avoided. Or for those times when you temporarily lose your sanity and choose to take a trip on purpose.
Glue your passport to a body part. It’s the only completely sure way there is of knowing where to find it at all times. Make a check list of everything you will be upset about if you forget to take it. Have some kind of an itinerary. But be fully prepared to suddenly not want to pay the slightest bit of attention to that. It’s your holiday; you can do whatever you want.
Keep things simple. Pack light. Slow down.
Relax and pay attention to what’s happening right now, right before your eyes. Be where you are. Stop stressing over some distant destination. After a few days of rushing around trying to take in every recommended tourist attraction, you’ll be more than ready to throw that guidebook in the garbage.
Take a dependable camera that isn’t likely to die on the trip before you do.
If you’re very lucky, you will have a travelling companion who doesn’t annoy the hell out of you; if that isn’t possible, go it alone. Just remember that wherever you are and whoever you meet along the way, kindness is universal. There is joy to be found in the simplest places and in the simplest moments.
There is always a good reason to come home, otherwise we’d all be nomads with credit cards living in hotels. Top on this list is probably that you spent way more than you thought you would, and now you’re out of money and must get back to making more of it so you can blow it all on your next excursion.
You may forget about half of the things you saw, but you won’t forget the people you met and the things you learned about how they live their lives.
And this is a hard and bitter truth to accept, but the fact is, not everyone back home is going to pay rapt attention to the 1,556 photos in your travel album no matter how enthusiastic you are about explaining each and every one of them in minute detail.
Embrace the silence and the stillness and the peace you didn’t appreciate until you took off on your wild adventure. Enjoy the memories.