50 Travel Lessons I've Learned

Travel is a learning experience. Many of these lessons were learned the hard way, others were bits of wisdom shared with me along the way, some were my own gradual realizations, and others were blinding epiphanies. Some were learned through acts of painfully embarrassing stupidness.


1. Triple check the front of the airport bus before boarding. Do not fall asleep.

2. No matter where you are in the world, people work, live, love, and raise families just like at home.

3. Use the zippers on your travel bags and jackets.

4. That black stuff beside the roads in Iceland is SOFT, do not park on it...

5. When touring from town to town, remember that you need a check-out and a check-in for the same date.

6. Most of the big motorcycles riders are NOT gang members and some of those guys have excellent crockpot recipes.

7. Return your cards and documents to the proper place in your wallet/pouch immediately after use.

8. McDonald's always has clean bathrooms and free WIFI and they are everywhere. Except Iceland. There is no McDonald's in Iceland.

9. Find out about any holidays, festivals, protests or other major events that will screw up transportation, availability of lodgings, altered operating hours and closures.

10. Electrolytes in your water jug daily is essential to keep hydrated in hot climates.

11. Open-air double-decker buses are no places to be wearing a hat.

12. Long travel is a marathon, not a sprint. Some days can be lazy.

13. Look for snacks in the local grocery to discover some delightful treats. (PS you want Hraun in Iceland, trust me)

14. You pack it, you carry it.

15. Download photos from camera cards along the way, back those photos up, in case of device failure or loss.

16. Those road signs that tell of wildlife ahead? They lie. I've been promised deer, snakes, moose, turtles, sheep, reindeer, feral goats, and BADGERS! All lies. Don't fall for it.

17. Always use a clean bathroom when the opportunity presents itself.

18. Just because, from home, it looked like there was no need to prebook a popular train, bus, or ferry ride, that may not be true by the time you arrive.

19. Ask locals for recommendations.

20. Use packing cubes.

21. Cross the bridge.

22. Find a coffee source before morning (refer to #9).

23. Other people don't care that you are eating alone.

24. Ask locals what they want you to know about their home.

25. Pack less, do laundry. You will not wear that. Leave it at home.

26. Follow your gut.

27. Never climb metal stairs with bare feet.

28. Sh!t happens on every trip. Get through it by reminding yourself that it is going to make a great story.

29. Hop-On Hop-Off tours are a great way to get a feel for a city. Day tours suck.

30. Take the scenic route. Stop at that bizarre museum.

31. Read the reviews.

32. Ask the tourist with a better camera to take your photo.

33. There are many countries in the world that do not flush toilet paper and may have other confusing bathroom habits.

34. Device batteries lose charge more quickly in high temperatures. Carry a 2nd camera battery.

35. People love getting postcards.

36. Buy a European power bar when travelling in Europe. Many rooms only have 1-2 outlets.

37. Always take time to sit back and people watch.

38. The best place to enjoy World Cup Soccer is in the middle of a crowd of locals on the sidewalk outside a TV store.

39. Getting lost isn't always a bad thing.

40. Grab a business card from the front desk on your way out.

41. Humans are good.

42. Buy the insurance. All the insurance.

43. Check for bed bugs before opening the suitcase.

44. Don't plan activities for travel days.

45. Shoe comfort is more important than almost everything else. No compromise is worth it.

46. Bring toilet paper.

47. Young people are delighted to practice their English and help a traveller.

48. Take an extra pair of glasses.

49. Splurge only for unique, over-the-top experiences...


... and last but not least...


50. Young men will blush when it's suggested they call their mother to tell her she did a good job raising him. My son assures me that every one of them called his mother.


What would you add to the list?


Next post is Wednesday!


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