Welcome back to another entry in my Year of Wanderlust (#yow), this one where I want to list out some travel advices for all you fine folks out there. These are travel wisdoms that I’ve accumulated during my last 4 years of travel as well as my last 30 years of life. I hope they can help you in your state of wanderlust!
Travel Advices #1: Poop When You Can
I cannot stress this advice enough, especially if you’re traveling in countries not known for their clean toilets, which is basically almost every poor country, as well as most rich countries. In fact, let’s just assume all countries in the world do not have clean public toilets.
What’s the rationale behind this advice? Well, say you’re about to go on a long bus ride. Maybe 10 hours. And you’re at your place of accommodation, waiting to be picked up. There’s a decent and clean toilet waiting for you to splash out #2. But you’re like, ‘nah, I’ll be able to hold it.’ So the bus pulls up, you get on, and merry you go towards your destination. About a few hours into the bus ride, your breakfast/lunch/dinner catches up with you. Ah crap, you’re gophering it. But you gotta wait. Bus pulls up to a rest stop. You get out, and start doing the awkward quick-step to the nearest toilet. You get there and there’s only one stall. You get in and boy it’s doozy. There’s no toilet paper. There’s not even a toilet seat. What do you do?
See. If you had taken care of your business prior, you wouldn’t be in this situation. That’s why I always tell people. Take every opportunity you can get when traveling to poop at a clean toilet, because you never know when the next clean one would come.
Travel Advices #2: Trust Your Instinct
This one holds true for everyone, but I would say especially for women. Sometimes, when you’re traveling, you’re forced to be in a situation where you don’t know where you should go down that dark alleyway to save yourself 10 minutes of walking, or whether the dark liquid drink is okay to drink. At the end of the day, learn to trust your instinct. Humans have evolved over the last 50,000 years and you are the descendants of people who have learned to survive the Ice Age, The Old Age, The Dark Age, The Age of Conquest, the Age of Wars, and finally the Modern Age. Do your ancestors a favor. Learn to trust that little voice in your head. Because at the end of the day, that little voice is all you really have. And also, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. Some will say a place is amazing, some will say the same place sucks. Trust your instinct. If it’s wrong, well hey, no one’s perfect.
Travel Advices #3: Never Abandon Your Friends
This actually applies to life in general as well, but I would say it also applies to when you’re traveling. Sure, that girl over there looks cute and wants to go on a romantic beach walk with you, but here’s your buddy passed out. Be a bro. Take him back to his room, make sure he’s still breathing, then go back and find that girl. You gotta have each other’s back. It’s a rough world out there.
Travel Advices #4: When Bargaining, Start At 50%
This applies to any country where you have to bargain. My best advice to folks? Take what a merchant tells you, and give them back an offer of 50%. Then work your way to about 60-65% of the initial offerings. And don’t waver. Don’t show them the weakness in your voice. Be steadfast. Only go up once on the re-offering. If they don’t give it to you at 60% of the initial asking price, walk away. Chances are, they’ll give it to you. But never, ever waver. For the brave, start at 40%, then go up to 55%. Yes, sometimes it’s only $1 or $2, but hey, it’s the principle. Never reward greed.
Travel Advices #5: Get a Private Room If You’re a Snorer
This is for all the snorers out there. Do yourself a favor. If you’re a loud snorer, do the rest of the world a favor and get a private room, we will all thank you for it. Too cheap or poor to afford a private room? Then be ready to have water splashed on you when you’re sleeping. You wanna bring your loud snoring to the rest of the world? Be ready to pay the penalty. To the rest of the world, if someone is snoring very loudly, you have mine, and others permission, to splash water at them. This advice sounds too mean? Be in a room with 2 loud snorers all snoring in sync with one another for 3 days, and come back to me and tell me I’m too mean.
Travel Advices #6: Never Buy From Children
It’s really frustrating seeing tourists, especially European tourists, buying souvenirs from children at touristy sights or in the street. Like, if you’re against child labor in your own country, why are you supporting child labor in a foreign country? No, you’re not helping them by buying from them, thereby giving them money. Because you know why? At worst, they’re being forced to do it by organized crime when they should be in school studying. At best, they’re being forced to do it by their parents when they should be in school studying. And yes, there is free public education in most poor countries. Poverty can only be defeated by education, not by your pathetic $1 purchase. Want to really make a cause? Donate to the local NGOs that are supporting the education of these kids.
Travel Advices #7: Don’t Ride the Elephants or Pose with the Tigers
This applies mainly to Thailand, although I can see it happening in other countries as well. Don’t ride the elephants. Period. Asian elephants are not meant to have that much weight on their back. It will hurt them. Also, regardless of how “humane” these “sanctuaries” say they’re treating their elephants, unless these places are backed by international NGOs, they’re most likely mistreating their elephants. There’s a reason why these animals are called “wild”. They should be frolicking amongst themselves in the jungles and forest, not walking along designated trails while you laugh on their poor backs. Oh yeah. Circus that involves animals are evil. Down with circuses.
And I’m not even gonna talk about the many of you who would like to pose with a sleeping tiger. Don’t ever support these places with your money. Also, don’t get so defensive when someone points this out to you. So many times now I’ve seen friends try to rationalize their decision to support these places with their money by saying, “the tigers aren’t drugged! They’re just really napping! Really!” Yeah no. Look at how loud it was when you were posing next to them. Do you really think any animal can sleep in such loud environment? Especially an animal whose hearing is one of the most sensitive in the world? Just admit that you’re an asshat and that you’re a horrible human being. Honesty is the first step to curing your asshattiness.
Travel Advices #8: Street Food Is Great. Eat More Street Food
Sometimes, in certain countries, fancy restaurants can be a front for organized crime to launder their money, thereby when you eat there, you’re supporting organized crime. Yeah, the ones that extort, kill, slave trade, drug trade, and just overall bad people. So instead, why not eat the street food? They’re cheaper, just as delicious if not more, and sure, they might be a little less unhygienic, but hey, there’s a reason why the Western world has way more people with allergies than those in the poorer world. Being too clean is actually bad for you. Also, when you eat street food, you’re literally feeding the chef as well by giving them your money. So support the local economy. Eat more street food. I’m hungry right now as I write this.
Travel Advices #9: Buy Your Flight Tickets Early if You Want To Save Money
This one is pretty common, but one caveat I would add is that, for budget airlines, it’s better to book 12-15 weeks in advance when you see a sale. In Asia, it’s about 3-4 months early. In Europe, it’s about 4-6 months early. The later you buy, the more seats are taken, and the higher the prices. Yeah, it eliminates spontaneity, but unless you’re loaded with cash, every little bit of money saved can help prolong the travel.
Travel Advices #10: Smile More
I’ve seen it way too many times. People walking down the street, their face all gruff like. Maybe the weather is too hot for them. Maybe they just had bad food. But still, the lack of smiles on travelers is disturbing. Folks, wake up. If you’re traveling, you’re doing something 99% of the world cannot do. So smile a little. Your life is better than those other 99%. Who cares if the weather sucks. You’re in a new country. Who cares if you got your phone stolen. You can purchase a new one. Really. Smile more. Enjoy your blessings. Enjoy the opportunities that you were afforded. The world can end any day now. Have a smile. Laugh. Laugh at everything. Let it be the only infectious disease you catch and spread.
- YoW Day 281 2015 In Review
- YoW Day 320 Alternatives to Popular Asian Destinations