Today I crossed the border from Poland into Ukraine, officially adding it to my list as the 30th country I’ve been to. I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had that have allowed me to live a lifestyle full of travel, always seeking out new adventures.
While the amount of countries visited is not a competition and doesn’t really determine how well traveled someone is, I have learned quite a few things from my trips to these places, and I wanted to share them here:
30. Pack less than you think you need. Like way less.
29. Look up visa requirements BEFORE you book your transport somewhere.
28. Not every place is great for solo travelers to meet people, so learn to love being by yourself (I think I love being by myself TOO much)
27. Things are not always as advertised. Don’t count on the bus having wifi and a functioning toilet. Could be a total lie.
26. Hostel happy hours are a great way to meet fellow travelers
25. If you have an opportunity to spend time with some locals, TAKE IT.
24. Not everyone will speak English, and not everyone will be nice. And that’s okay, just move along.
23. Getting stressed and pissed off will solve absolutely nothing
22. Plan your route and know how to get from your transport stop to your accommodation, always.
21. Bring your student ID with you and always ask about discounts
20. Be prepared for unexpected expenses and learn how to let go of having to spend money on stupid things. It happens.
19. Avoid getting into a new place late at night
18. Say yes to doing things more than you say no
17. Buy one of those battery juice packs to recharge your phone during the day. Actually, buy the one from my travel shop
16. Keep an open mind but don’t be afraid to draw your line in the sand. Boundaries are important.
15. Pack comfortable walking shoes and don’t pack heels
14. You can’t see and do everything there is to see and do in every place. Accept that, pick your key spots of interest, and let the rest go.
13. Avoid getting into political discussions with other travelers at the hostel happy hour.
12. Never leave home without a pack of earplugs and eye shades
11. Bring a locker lock and always lock up your valuables. The peace of mind alone is worth it.
10. Write things down as you go or else you will forget.
9. Keep in contact with people back home but don’t forget to enjoy the place and moment you’re in.
8. You can’t always eat out and only eat the local food, don’t feel bad about cooking something for yourself or getting fast food once in awhile
7. Be flexible with plans, sometimes things won’t go as you want them to, or new opportunities will arise.
6. Take pictures of yourself and the people you’re with in the places you are, not just of the landmarks alone. You can google image a way better picture of a building than the one you took, but you can’t google you and your friends in front of it.
5. “Being American” doesn’t give you special privileges abroad. Note this to all entitled millennials reading.
4. When you go to get your passport picture taken, make yourself look as good as possible so you aren’t stuck with a heinously ugly passport photo for 10 years. Ask anyone who has traveled with me. Border patrol officers have laughed and given me horrified looks.
3. Even if you’re shy, a simple “hey where are you from?” To another traveler in a hostel is a great icebreaker that could lead to a global friendship.
2. When in doubt, take out some cash. It’s always good to have some on hand.
1. Managing expectations and keeping them low (without becoming a pessimist) is the best strategy to always be happy. The higher your expectations, the more you set yourself up for disappointment and frustration. Expect little and you’ll be enthralled at what you get.