Thought Catalog

21 Surprising Lessons You’ll Learn On A Road Trip Around North America

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Flickr / A♥
Flickr / A♥
  1. Travel carry-on. There isn’t a valid reason to take with you more than a carry-on bag. If I was able to live off such a small piece of luggage for such a long time, so can you. It’s practical, light and doesn’t take much space.
  2. Speak your mind even if it creates some friction. There is nothing worse than to hold back your thoughts, that will turn you into a resentful and frustrated person. And let’s be honest, nobody likes a guy who goes around throwing tantrums over some unimportant stupid shit. Besides that, people tend to respect those who speak their minds.
  3. Be flexible. Most things won’t go according to plan. Plans are always changing and it will greatly benefit you if you don’t hold on to those. That’s the fun of it.
  4. Luck favors the bold. It is not a written law, but I live by it. If you never ask you will never know. If you don’t extend invitations you will stay in the dark. It was that way that I met Noam Chomsky, most people don’t believe me when I tell them how easy it was. We ended up in staying at the house of a Vegas billionaire by just asking if he could host us for a few days, it was by being bold that we were able to survive a snow storm in the heart of Texas. If you don’t know what to do, move forward.
  5. Be brutally honest. This is about not coming up with excuses and trying to soften a situation. If we had lied to the State Troopers we would have ended up in jail on our first week in America. If I haven’t said in a strong way that the idea to end the road trip and stay in Miami for two months was ridiculous that could have been the end of it. This might end up hurting people’s feelings, but there isn’t anything clearer than honesty.
  6. Accept being tired, hungry and make discomfort your friend. Don’t resist something in your way that you can’t swerve by. All those elements are a natural piece of your journey and to fight against those is the same as fighting against yourself. And speaking of which…
  7. … If you dont have something to say, stay quiet. There is nothing worse than someone that complains, whines and blames others. The only result of such words is to create tension and arguments that will lead you nowhere. It is nobody’s fault that you couldn’t sleep at night, nobody cares about how tired you are, or how bad the food is. Keep that to yourself.
  8. Write a journal. I don’t usually read my journal and I have no purpose for it besides allowing me to express my thoughts. But sometimes I find some really cool ideas and situations that I wrote down and couldn’t remember anymore.
  9. Be patient. If you will learn something in being locked in a car for 18 hours per day is that time is your friend. With all that time in your hands you can read, write, talk about trivial shit and deep philosophical stuff, you can sleep, eat and think about that girl from high school that used to be your crush. What happened to her? And you still have 6 more hours to go…
  10. Comfort is overrated. You don’t need a bed to be happy, neither a couch, neither a daily shower, neither a cell phone. Of course that all those things are nice, but you don’t need those to be happy, at least not essentially. I had none of those during those 3 months and it was the best time of my life.
  11. Accept other peoples generosity. Sometimes we don’t accept other peoples generosity because of pride. That’s stupid. If people want to help you, accept their help. If someone wants to pay you a meal, then accept it. If people tell you that you can crash in their bed, while they go to sleep in their girlfriend’s place. Please accept.
  12. If you dont like doing something… dont do it. There isn’t a good reason to do something that you don’t enjoy. None. I gave up of a masters do to what I like, my family was not happy with it, but I didn’t care. It is my life and I won’t waste it doing what I don’t love.
  13. People are essentially good. You can say whatever you want, but people are generally good, kind and compassionate. People are eager to help you. Just because that doesn’t sell newspapers, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t true.
  14. Accept other ways of living and dont judge. Nobody can judge you and you shouldn’t judge other people. You have zero authority over other peoples lives and vice versa. There are certain things that I saw others doing that I would never do. And so what? In Los Angeles I was sleeping on my friends couch and one night I couldn’t fall asleep because his flat mates were fucking so loud that it could be heard in Mexico City. It was their house, I was a guest, who am I to say that it was a wrong thing to do?
  15. Have a daily routine. What slowly kills you is not the routine, it is to have a routine that you hate. Even in a travel like this I created a consistent routine: I would wake up at 10 am, work until mid afternoon and then I would have the day to myself. It might seem irrelevant, but without some discipline and method it is easy to feel carried away and lost in your obligations.
  16. Those with less to lose, end up winning. Simple and easy. It can be harder to apply in certain situations, but is a golden rule.
  17. Where there is conflict there is life. I still struggle with this, but I recognize that during the entire trip the conflicts were constant and this was as well the period of greater growth in my life. I don’t believe that it is a coincidence.
  18. Accept (every) invitation. You never know where it will lead you and most often than not you will end up with some memorable stories. One of the best moments of the trip happened after I was invited, and convinced, to go to an african nightclub in San Francisco. It was not my style, but hey… why not?
  19. Border Control is important. There is a border that you shouldn’t let people cross. There are people who only know one way of behaving: crushing others until they say “ouch!”. So say it as soon as someone puts one foot on the line. No excuses, no exceptions.
  20. Learn to recognize a dangerous situation and act accordingly. Yes, we live in the safest time of human history, but dangerous situations are everywhere. If you find yourself in one, it is vital to identify it as such, measure the variables around you and decide what to do. Never enter in a physical fight unless it is your last resource.
  21. Turn off the internet and live more in the real world. Easier said than done, but all of us would greatly benefit from being more connected to each other in real life and less on the internet. TC mark

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