Something I adore about travelling is watching other travellers, seeing what people bring with them, identifying the things that they deem important, listening to their advice.
What you see here is a list that I have been collecting over the last few years of travel; sometimes learning for myself (often the hard way!) and sometimes collecting the advice of others. I’ll add to this as I go on, and as usual, please feel free to share your own pieces of wisdom.
1. Always grab enough food to share.
This one I particularly liked. It was from a girl named Brie who I met on a diving boat in Koh Tao. I would say that some of the most fantastic friendships I’ve built have started out through a mutual love of food.
2. Sandwich bags are the single most useful item that I carry.
Ignoring the obvious use for things like passports, money etc, sandwich bags make my life easier every day. Perfect for keeping delicate items safe from the rain, for isolating your sweaty laundry from clean clothes, for separating liquids on airplane journeys, prohibiting nasty spills of creams etc spoiling your luggage and occasionally even holding a sandwich for the road.
3. Upon arriving anywhere new, the first thing you should always do is… stop and grab a coffee.
I honestly swear by this rule. Not only because I love a coffee but also because it gives you time to take it all in. Often when travelling somewhere new, you can and will be bombarded with people, with information, with offers of taxis and rickshaws, which can make for a frustrating first arrival. Stopping for coffee allows you time to decide what you want to do, to watch people, to identify how the local area works. In addition to this, chatting to the person who serves your coffee can provide invaluable advice – where to go, how much to pay for a taxi etc.
4. Don’t be afraid to bring some sort of home comfort.
Packing your life into a rucksack can be daunting. Knowing that for the foreseeable future your comforts are going to be considerably limited, personally I enjoy taking just one thing that reminds me of home. Strange as it might sound, my home comfort is one pair of really comfortable pajamas. Although the majority of travel is exciting, fascinating and wonderful, there will always be a day when you’ve been scammed, you’ve fallen ill, you’ve had something stolen, you’ve missed a flight, whatever. For me, ending the day with a comfy pair of pajamas and the promise of a night’s sleep can be the difference between a bad day and a bad week.
5. “Life is full of 15 minute adventures. Don’t be dismayed if you miss a few”.
In all of the quotes I have ever heard, this is by far my favourite. It was told to me on a road trip through the USA and Canada by guy who enjoys dressing up as a gorilla and attending festivals, behaving only as a gorilla for the entirety of his stay. “I invented it when I was tripping on mushrooms” he proudly announced. As someone who finds it hard to say no to anything, I’ve found this to be a comforting reminder that there will always be another experience waiting around the corner.
6. A little kindness goes a long way.
In Bangkok a few weeks ago, I was due to pick up my passport from an embassy to obtain a visa. I had misread the opening times of the embassy and arrived, in the scorching midday heat to realise I was an hour early. This was around the time of the protests and to be sure that I would get to the embassy and back safely, I had convinced a motorbike taxi to take me both ways.
He was considerably annoyed at having to wait an hour in the sunshine. Fortunately, a little ice cream cart was passing by. In an attempt to soften him, I bought us a couple of ice creams and invited him to look at my journal with me. Perhaps it was my terribly drawn stick-people or perhaps it was the chocolatey goodness of a Magnum ice cream, but in that ten minutes, he became a different person. By the time I had collected my passport he even sheepishly handed over a second helmet that until that point he had kept quiet. On the drive back, he took me on a detour to show me different protest areas and a small market – something I would probably have never seen if it wasn’t for the extra 20 pence I had spent on a brownie ice cream.
Stay tuned for more… xxx