Lessons I’ve learned from over 4 years of travel

It’s been over four years since I set out into the great big wide world and three years since I’ve stayed in one place for more than three months. Crazy, right? Well, in that time I’ve picked up a few bits of wisdom along the way. Some of it you may find useful, others you might find funny, yet others you might roll your eyes and think “I thought everyone knew that.” For what it’s worth, here they are:

  1. Be nice.
  2. Be humble. That is, there is more to everything than just me.
  3. When in doubt, do it.
  4. When doubting your doubt, re-think what you’re going to do.
  5. In any job, follow the three golden rules: Don’t make work for the boss; don’t run unless there’s fire; when in doubt, stop and think.
  6. When you say “I’ll do it later,” you probably won’t. Do it now. Yes, that means lock up your stuff, take another picture, call home, whatever the case may be. There is no time like the present.
  7. Don’t make jokes at customs or immigration. You don’t want the extra attention in developed countries and in developing countries they won’t understand so you’ll just sound like you’re babbling.
  8. Always have an emergency bundle of cash secured somewhere in or on your belongings for those times that your ATM/credit card gets eaten or stolen or you simply get robbed.
  9. No, you don’t have to blog about your travels, but it might make a good souvenir when you’re older. It also helps communication skills.
  10. Listen to that little voice inside your head that says “what if…?” and then go do it. (I wish I could take credit for this one but it’s a famous quote by somebody, I just don’t remember who.) … Unless it’s “what if I try to fly without the proper materials?” Then just make sure you’re close to the ground.
  11. At home you’re an alcoholic, abroad you’re taking part in cultural immersion.
  12. Drink responsibly.
  13. When travelling, call home from time to time. As I’ve gotten older the realization that my parents won’t always be there is a scary thought.
  14. Coffee and chocolate can solve a lot of problems.
  15. Expensive coffee, such as civet or elephant poo coffee, aren’t really worth the price.
  16. It’s cool to walk where The Greats have trodden, especially in Greece, Italy and where my family came from on the Polish-Ukrainian border.
  17. History is better learned through travel, language learning, and relationships.
  18. Languages are fun to learn but, unless they are relevant to your work or daily life, don’t stress about them too much. It’s better to learn a few words that will enable you get around (ordering food, finding shelter, flirting), and maybe enamour your hosts.
  19. Third party insurance is good to have, even if you never use it.
  20. Good-byes are useless, it’s always see ya later… even though it might be for a while.
  21. I like stuff because, in my mind, I’m collecting my own museum and gallery. Clothes, CDs, paintings, journals, etc. all stand as testaments to where I’ve been and what I’ve done.
  22. I have not been able to get music out of my mind. It’s something that follows me throughout my travels.
  23. Movie region encoding is the dumbest invention in the world and prohibits the disemination of creative ideas. Thank goodness for digital copies. (Watch my movies here.)
  24. Travelling through Asia gave me the feeling of being a rock star, something I’ve never been before, and thus satisfying a boyhood dream of being a celebrity.
  25. Globalization can’t be all that bad if the internet is available in a lot of places. That means you can live, work and communicate with others in just about every part of the world.
  26. If I stay in a hostel cafe all morning, I feel like an in-patient at a mental hospital.
  27. I have been very fortunate so far.
  28. Good and bad are subjective to both the person and society.
  29. All major religions and spiritual belief systems have two major themes: there is something more to our existence and, above all, be nice.
  30. Eating natural foods is a good and healthy idea.
  31. … But grease, fat and sugar are awesomely delicious and don’t have to be unhealthy.
  32. Time and health are probably the most important personal things to care of.
  33. I think I’m one of few travel writers who actually doesn’t care much about food so long as it it sustains me and doesn’t make me very sick.
  34. A long-term stay in a hostel is much like living in an office – you meet all sorts of people, have the same water cooler conversation, and come and go in a similar fashion to office hours.
  35. You don’t need much to travel. Most important are cash and a passport.