My trip to Australia was one part of a huge epiphany; more than anything my heart desired travel, writing, and health.
Therefore, aside from booking plane tickets, I started a blog and began to aspire to write for the school newspaper. And therefore, I ended up reading the RebelYell and finding this article: http://unlvrebelyell.com/2012/01/23/adventure-tips-for-happy-fools/
In it, a fellow student advocates for travel abroad. He has provided his 11 “Traveling Rules for Fools,” and here I provide my response.
Rule #1: “Don’t be afraid.”
The first thing Bradley pretty much attests to is that there are probably dumber people out there than you (the reader) who have traveled the world; therefore, don’t let fear hold you back. I won’t call anybody dumb, but it’s a fair argument to make. Working on the Las Vegas strip, I have met travelers who could not communicate (due to language barriers) making my job in sales ridiculously hard sometimes! Or simply leaving me in awe of how they get from one point to another. And for me personally, I was ridiculously afraid of airports. Somehow I was worried that I wouldn’t understand the process of getting from one flight to the next. But in reality, it was pretty straightforward. Anyhow, I say, if you do have some sort of fear we have the great advantage of the internet these days, and you can find a lot of helpful travel information online. Seriously, you can find step-by-step to some of the silliest things on sites like eHOW.com. Or you can get local advice from people on online travel forums like CouchSurfing.org.
Rule #2: “Force yourself to take the trip.”
This one’s pretty much self-explanatory, and in my experience, a pretty significant one. I battled myself A LOT in my head about my trip, until I decided that I would book a ticket to silence my racing mind. Once I was booked, there was no longer a point in asking- “Should I? Should I not?” I was doing it. And that was that.
Rule #3: “Tell everyone you know that you are going.”
Aside from the reasons that Bradley states, talking to people about traveling abroad can be pretty reaffirming of your decision. When I told people I was going to Oz, I got a hell of a ton of “WOAH!”s. If I was ever doubtful, that was pretty much enough to remind me that I had an epic experience ahead of me. It’s also a good way to find out who around you also likes travel, and who would be down to travel with you, or be able to give you helpful advice.
Rule #4: “Once you force yourself to go, get off your lazy butt and actually start planning your trip.”
I am EXTREMELY spontaneous. So I’m kind of so-so on this one. But I will admit that for my trip to Oz, spontaneity didn’t exactly bring the most excitement. I got the most out of the things I had planned, because I was more productive each minute during those activities compared to the times wasted trying to figure things out as I go-which was what ended up happening for the unplanned portion of my trip
Rule #5: “Buy a good map and compass.”
Melbourne’s CBD was manageable without a map. That’s NOT to say I didn’t get lost, or always knew exactly where I was. And I definitely used my iPhone compass!
Rule #6: Pack light and learn to live without.
The moment I struggled to handle my luggage on a bus-I thought of this rule. But when I was back home packing the bare minimum, my sister had convinced me that I should bring some heels just in case, along with etc. etc. Did I ever use those damn heels on my trip?! Never! Bring some versatile, comfortable pieces, and the more comfortable you will be while traveling!
Rule#7: “Shoes are your best friends.”
Again the key here is comfort. Remember those stinking heels? Yea. Of course not. Because I alternated between my flip flops and Asics throughout my trip. Depending on where you go, you might have more room to break this rule. Say, if you were on your way to visit me in Vegas. You’d still need comfortable shoes. But you might have an excuse to sneak in the heels. It’s o.k. I honestly love my heels, too. But I can’t live without my Asics, either. Bring at least one pair of comfortable walking shoes, and do your feet a favor!
Rule #8: “Do as the locals do, eat as the locals eat.”
This statement can go as far as living how the locals live-ditch the fancy food and the fancy hotel one day! You’ll experience something different, and if you are open to it, you’ll return home with a more open mind.
Rule #9: “Baby wipes are one of the greatest inventions known to mankind.”
I did use baby wipes once to “wash my face” while camping in Oz, but my real best friend on my trip was hand sanitizer. Some places (especially underdeveloped countries) will not always have soap, running water, or water period! Bring hand sanitizer just to be safe.
Rule #10: “If you are between the ages of 18 and 35 and you take a tour group trip to Europe or South America, I will hunt you down and kick your behind.”
O.k. This one, I have to totally and absolutely disagree with! I too thought little of going on a group tour before my trip, because it just sounded too cliché, touristy to me. But alas, the BEST moments of my trip to Oz were on my group tour! Perhaps some tours are not worth it. Do your research. But a good tour can bring a great use of your time during your trip and great company as well. For this one, I would say do it. And then, heck, deal with Bradley later.
Rule #11: “Don’t be an ugly American.”
Haha. This one was pretty funny to me, because I actually HEARD ABOUT the “ugly American” on my trip. I did feel like being abroad really brought out the American in me, which I feel was why I was a lot more open, and chatty, and trusting compared to so many of the other travelers around me. But everyone expressed that they didn’t mind MY chatting so much, because I didn’t compare every single thing and say-“well, that’s not how we do it in America.” So, travel with an open mind. And if you are an American, try not to give us all a bad rap.