I recently searched online for “best travel tips” and “best ways to travel” and got loads of advice on airline tickets and credit cards. But not much regarding the actual fun “travel” part of travel. So I went and made this: 44 More Little Travel Rules No One Tells You, a sequel to my 2009 post.
1. There is no right way to travel.
2. You don’t need anyone to tell you how to pack. Really, you can do this. I believe in you. (Or maybe not. Here’s the advice of a six-year-old travel expert on ALL you need to know about packing.)
3. No one agrees what’s truly “authentic” about a place. But if you’re near fudge or taffy, you’re probably not where it’s at.
4. Look at things before you photograph them. Most things aren’t going anywhere, and you’ll likely just rush bad photos like this one I did.
5. Doubt all criticism you hear of a place. Starting with your own.
6. “I’ve Been Everywhere” is an overrated travel anthem.
7. “This Magic Moment” is an underrated travel anthem.
8. Don’t tip Andean pan flute players outside of the Andes. That mad worldwide export must stop. Please help.
9. FOMO? F FOMO! You will always miss out on something. It’s sort of encouraging, right? That there’s always something momo?
10. The secret to becoming a great traveler is your local bus. If you can take a bus in your hometown – figure out the route, where the stop is, how to pay the fare – you pretty much can travel anywhere in the world on your own.
11. You will not be killed in Mexico. (Assuming you’re not in the drug trafficking trade.)
12. Travel is an adult’s last chance to “play.” Remember playing? Like when we were kids and made our own fun. Treat it that way. Skip museums you think you’re supposed to go to, and think back to those little things you dreamed about as a kid – super heroes, Duran Duran videos, Brady Bunch episodes – and let your travels make them real.
13. Just because you have a family doesn’t mean you have to go to “family friendly” destinations. Kids’ comfort zones can – and should – be pushed sometimes too. (My daughter fell off the horse making this video, then said “I want to live here forever” the next day. Maybe because a cowboy caught her.)
14. The most underrated travel movie is “YES MAN.” For that scene when Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel take whatever flight is leaving next – and end up in Lincoln, Nebraska. And they have the greatest travel day in cinematic history. (Until they get arrested.)
15. Don’t get arrested.
16. In your “travel life,” go to a few places you don’t want to.
17. Non-Paris France is probably the most underrated country in the world. Food and wine are great, scenery’s great, people nice, not as expensive as you’d think.
18. When flying, always let the poor sap in the middle seat have both armrests. Always.
19. You can’t beat jet lag, but you can ignore it.
20. Read a book about your destination before going.
21. Difficulty can be a good thing. (Though I’m never eating those luke-warm beef-on-a-stick things on a Yangon sidewalk again.)
22. We don’t like every place we go to. But it’s more our own fault than of the people who live there.
23. Take gravel roads.
24. Bike some.
25. Eat where people are eating.
26. Just like Tolstoy said, all unhappy families are unhappy in their own unique way, and every single art fair – no matter where you are – is exactly the same.
27. Some evil person is designing those tacky neon souvenir t-shirts that are stocked at nearly every US airport gift shop.
28. You’re cool even if you don’t quit your job and travel the world.
29. No one knows where you should travel next. But I bet you have a good idea.
(I certainly don’t.)
30. If someone is charging you too much money for something like lemonade, don’t call them a “bad person.” Instead, you can just walk away.
31. On the Road isn’t the only roadtrip book ever written. Many are better for getting you excited to drive. Robert Sullivan’s interstate-valentine Cross Country, for example.
32. Walk a flatland before dismissing it as “boring.”
33. Don’t ever fight a centaur nude.
34. Most “travel experts” travel on itineraries organized by destination marketing people who meet them at the airport – then whisk them off into air-conditioned vans for a guided looksie. In other words, it’s not clear whether they’re really travel experts.
35. You can only fully “get” a train by sleeping overnight on one. Hopefully there will be Russian brothers in leather jackets at 2am on Siberia’s BAM line willing to protect you from the roaming prostitute who looks like she’s from a 1989 Warrant video.
36. Writing or sketching in a journal is a better way to remember a trip’s experiences than taking photos on your phone. That is, until the conference-voice joggers come and interrupt your drawing of the Black Hills.
37. It’s totally fine to use a selfie stick. Just be prepared to be mocked a little.
38. There are better two-lane US highways that cross the country than Route 66, which sort of doesn’t exist except in (often trashy) patches. Try US50.
39. Save funny or questionable pamphlets. Then make a video of the “highlights.”
(Warning: bad video.)
40. Popularity is often a pretty bad way to consider travel destinations. Or movies. Did anyone even like Avatar?
41. Being there isn’t always “being there.” If you’ve changed planes at the Detroit airport, great. But that doesn’t really mean you’ve “been” to Michigan. I say you’ve “been” somewhere if you have something interesting to share about your experience there – ideally something that could only have happened there. (I concede this definition means that, yes, Larry Craig has “been” to Minnesota. Even if he didn’t leave the Minneapolis/St Paul airport.)
42. Home is the ultimate destination. It’s sort of why we travel in the first place — to see where you’re from with a bigger point of view. Plus it’s just more comfortable pottying in a familiar place.
43. A trip is for you. And, often, you alone. No one back home is really that interested.
44. Travel is not a contest. Have fun.