As of today, I am halfway through my trip around the world. In the past 50 days I have traveled to Peru, New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal, and Italy. I love traveling alone, and have been trying to use my website to encourage other people to do it too. I think that traveling alone is a great way to imerse yourself in other cultures and to enjoy some “me time”.
I’ve learned so much about the world, traveling, and myself in the past few weeks, and I wanted to share my advice and thoughts with you today:
Things I’ve Learned From Traveling For 50 Days
1. Pack Like My Suitcase Will Get Lost
I brought a carry on suitcase and a backpack on this trip, but sometimes airlines make me check the suitcase, so I always make sure that I have all of my toiletries, pajamas, and a full change of clothing in my backpack. I was thankful that I had everything I needed when my suitcase took two days to reach me in Sardinia after it didn’t make it onto my flight out of Dubai.
2. Download Netflix When I Have Strong WiFi
I like having a couple of movies on my phone to watch in case I am bored on a long bus ride or flight, or if I just want to watch something when I unwind at night. Hotels don’t always have strong WiFi, so I make sure that I download something new whenever I find great WiFi (airport lounges usually have great WiFi).
3. Priority Pass Is Worth It
I was never a big fan of airport lounges until this trip, but now I am obsessed. Need strong WiFi? A drink? A snack? A quiet place to work? A shower? The lounge is the place for all of these things. Yes, I have taken showers in lounges during long layovers and I love feeling completely refreshed during the journey.
I have priority pass as part of my Amex Platinum card, but you can also purchase priority pass on its own. I’ve been impressed by the fact that they have lounges in almost every single airport that I have been to (I’ve been to 20 airports on this trip so far). They even had a lounge in rural Peru!
4. Lush Makes Great Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
I discovered these bars in Australia and I love that they work and they don’t take up space in my bag of liquids. Plus, they are zero waste and are not packaged in plastic.
5. Embrace My Natural Hair
My hair can have a life of its own. It has a wavy texture and when I am home I am always trying to style it with a straightener. I have been trying to save time and embrace my hair’s natural texture. It’s one of the things that makes me unique.
6. Waking Up Early Maximizes My Day
I am NOT a morning person. Usually, I wake up at 8:30, but since I have been traveling I have been getting up by 7 am each day. That extra hour and a half doesn’t sound like much, but it lets me catch up on work and then I can start each day fresh. It feels amazing, and it has helped me to master this digital nomad lifestyle. Bonus: amazing sunrises.
7. Always Bring Snacks
My stash of granola bars, cookies, and crackers was so important when I was in tiny towns in Asia. I had three minor food sickness issues, so I had to be very cautious about what I ate. There were a few situations when I was on an hours-long bus ride from place to place and I was glad that I had snacks with me so that I didn’t have to risk eating at roadside restaurants when we made pit stops. Any time I thought the food safety was questionable, I relied on my snacks.
8. Bring More Water Than I Think You Need
Sometimes hikes and bike rides take longer than you think, or the weather heats up. Bring that extra bottle of water, just in case.
9. I Don’t Need So Much Stuff
I only have two bags, but I have everything I need! I don’t need a giant closet full of clothing. Over the past year, I have been working to buy less and to only invest in items that will last and that I can use long term.
10. Experiences Are More Valuable Than Things
Designer handbag, or a trip? I will choose a trip every single time. I would rather have these experiences than anything else.
10. Things Won’t Always Go My Way, But I Can Fix It
When things don’t work out, I have been trying not to get frustrated but to problem-solve instead. When my hotel pool was closed in Siem Reap, I just switched hotels. When my tour group missed sunrise at Angkor Wat, I went back the next morning. Do what it takes to fix the situation, instead of focusing on how it didn’t work out.
12. Don’t Wait
One thing that I have seen again and again on this trip is people who have waited until retirement to tackle their big bucket list items. Sure – I met one kind retiree who is fit enough to successfully trek to Everest Base Camp. But, more often, I have met people who can’t fully enjoy or experience things because they aren’t physically able to do everything.
Go to Angkor Wat when you can still climb 100 stairs in 90-degree heat. Go to Machu Picchu while you can still hike up Machu Picchu Mountain.
I don’t want to sound like I am judging anyone, but I want to encourage people to get out and see the world. You don’t want to wait your whole life to see something, and then not be able to fully experience it.
13. It’s Ok to Go Alone
It takes a lot for travel schedules to line up. Everyone has their own priorities and their own places they want to go next, and only a certain amount of vacation time. If you really want to go somewhere, or do something, go alone.
If you are reluctant about traveling alone, consider signing up for a tour! I have had great luck using World Expeditions for tours.
14. Ignore the Haters / I Can’t Please Everyone
Travel isn’t about pleasing other people, it’s about the experiences you want to have. I’ve had plenty of people judge me for not going to certain places.
I’ve been questioned about why I didn’t go to Iguazu Falls. A man overheard me talking about Kathmandu and scolded me for going there (he was confused and thought the city was destroyed after a recent earthquake). I get lots of messages on Instagram asking why I am not stopping in certain cities or countries. Let the criticism roll off your back, and focus on what you want to do.
15. Meeting New People Is Easy
As an adult, it can seem scary to meet new people. Somehow it’s easier when I am traveling. A simple question like, “Have you been in Siem Reap long enough to recommend where I should eat dinner?” opened up an hour-long conversation with two lovely women.
Just the fact that you traveling to the same place as someone else means you have something in common!
16. Have A Plan, But Keep It Loose
I am a longtime believer in letting the people I meet help to guide the journey. That might sound new-age and cheesy, but sometimes things are just meant to be. The other day I was flying from Dubai to Rome and I sat next to a man from Southern Portugal. That’s one of the stops at the end of my trip and he gave me suggestions on what to do.
A Peruvian man on my flight to Lima helped me plan my time in the Sacred Valley. The advice of a local is so valuable and I love incorporating that information into my plans.
17. Invest in High-Quality Essentials / Choose Function Over Style
Are waterproof hiking boots the next big summer trend? No. But having dry feet on a rainy day keeps me happy. Plus, the shoes serve two functions. I wear them on hikes and whenever it’s rainy. When I was packing for this trip I focused on versatile and functional items and I invested in things like a great rain jacket that doubles as a windbreaker and Lulemon tees that wick sweat and fold up to be tiny.
18. You Won’t Regret Playing It Safe
The things that I regret are the risks that I didn’t need to take. The time that I ate my hotel in the middle of nowhere Vietnam and got sick. Having too much food with vinegar when I know it can give me bad heartburn. I am trying to be better about trusting my instincts and saying no.
19. Solo Travel Is A Way To Learn About Yourself
We spend so much of our time pleasing others. I have realized that we are constantly negotiating our time with others. What to eat for dinner. How to spend Saturday night. The hours that we aren’t working are so precious and few. It’s easy to fill that time up spending it with friends and family (which I LOVE doing), but it’s been nice to focus completely on myself for a while. I am learning things about myself.
After living in cities for the past 12 years, I am learning that I really love spending time in small towns and in nature. I wasn’t miserable biking through rural Vietnam in 95-degree heat. I loved it. I can’t wait to spend next week in a small town in Sardinia.
I am learning to soak in the quiet moments. To wake up for the sunrise. To wander around cities and to discover new things. I am trying to slow down to enjoy my time instead of rushing on to what’s next.
Thanks for following me on this journey. You can see more in previous blog posts, on Instagram, or you can listen to the podcast!