1. Patience is everything.
A lot of conversations you have are strung together by broken English. You will have to repeat yourself a lot, you will have to talk slower and find new simple ways to describe things. But the most important thing you have to remember is that in a foreign country where you don’t speak their language you have to be patient and appreciate their efforts because at least they are trying to conform to your language in a place where English isn’t spoken.
2. A lot of things aren’t what you expect.
But you learn to roll with it. Pictures of accommodations are a lot nicer than the actual thing. Asking for special requests with food usually doesn’t happen. Some excursions totally aren’t what you expected. You just learn to be flexible and roll with things as they come.
3. Always be early for transport, always.
Because the one time you think you could give yourself an extra 15 minutes to sleep in is the one time you’ll be frantic trying to make your bus or ferry.
4. Always double-check you have your tickets before you leave.
My friends and I bought ferry tickets and when we got to the pier I had mine, but they didn’t have theirs. Their tickets were together and they ended up having to run back to the mainland and spend money to buy completely new tickets making in on the ferry just as it was about to pull away.
5. Always be prepared for all weather.
Even if you’re going to a place that is generally scorching hot, still be prepared with something more than t-shirts and shorts because there will be rainy days and a random cold night and you will be under prepared.
6. Always read reviews.
Reviews are always the most honest and helpful source of information but read each review with a grain of salt. There will always be people who curse out the experience because they never have anything good to say and there will always be people who are overly joyed. Try to focus on the middleman with the level head.
7. Always make sure you take screen shots of important information while traveling without a working SIM card.
If you don’t have a SIM card with Internet I can promise you there won’t always be Wi-Fi and sometimes you will be stuck not knowing where to go. Always take screenshots of the information you need while you still have access to it so it’s easily accessible and you don’t need to get all worked up over not having Internet.
8. Buy a portable charger for your phone.
Seriously they are a life saver, especially when you’re gone the whole day and don’t have an outlet to plug your phone into. It makes it so much easier to be able to carry a portable charger in your bag and definitely gives you a piece of mind.
9. Always carry cash in multiple locations.
In case anything terrible happened to you make sure you have cash in multiple locations. If you get mugged or you lose your wallet you’d have back up cash incase you lose your ATM card in the process. It’s better to be safe than sorry and it’s also better not to carry around large sums of money at a given time.
10. People are much more friendly than those who don’t travel give them credit for.
I’m just finishing up a trip from South East Asia and I heard a whole lot of negative connotations revolved around Thailand specifically and I’ve never felt safer in a country than I did Thailand. The people were welcoming and helpful, just last night in the dark I stopped to ask two men for help and they were more than willing to show me my way. I’ve had perfect strangers drive me back to my hotel in Malaysia. It’s all about using your instincts and being smart, but people aren’t generally bad at the core. More than often they are happy to help you out in any way they can.
11. You don’t need much to be happy.
You really don’t. The more possessions you have the more stress you have in your life and the more greedy you become. When you don’t have much you don’t want much because what you have is enough. The happiest people I’ve met along the road are usually the one’s without much in their pockets but a brain full of knowledge and stories they love to share.
12. You’ll never be able to experience everything.
No matter how hard you try it just isn’t possible. You can meet two groups of awesome people who are both heading their opposite directions and no matter what you can’t be in two places at once. You can’t hit every destination you’d like on every trip. It sucks big time, but it’s reality.
13. Buy travel insurance.
You literally never know what could happen, even though majority of the time you probably won’t use it, just buy it. You never know when you might get in some form of an accident or if you miss a plane. Having insurance is much better and it will give you less stress to get treated in case something does happen.
14. Your money will run out, often faster than you think.
Even if you set a budget sometimes you still forget things. I got this weird insanely painful skin irritation while in Thailand, if I’m going with what Google told me I’m self-diagnosing it as “Hells Itch” and it literally was worse than hell. You can bet I dropped as much money as I needed to buy things that might help the pain go down even a little bit. Always have a “just incase” fund on the side and be prepared to go through your money when your spending every night paying for accommodation and all your meals.
15. Slow is better.
Traveling slowly is a much better experience. It lets you create relationships with some of the locals, it allows you to settle in a bit and learn about more hidden treasures in the area. It also saves you more money when you’re not traveling around to new places every three days. Take your time exploring and creating relationships to get the most out of your experience, it will make it much more relaxed and enjoyable.
16. Always appreciate what you have back home.
When you’re traveling you often see things that are disturbing to some level. It makes you realize just how fortunate you really are. How you should never take for granted your hot shower, fridge full of food or drinking water. It’s the little things that really are important because once those things are compromised it really makes you realize just how lucky you are.