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Try not to over-prepare.

Be an explorer of the world. The best discoveries are made by acting on impulse and following your intuition. Too much planning will often lead you to disappointment, unfulfilled hopes, and large crowds of tourists armed with the same guidebook. So put the Lonely Planet away every now and again and see what you can discover.

Anxiety is a heavy piece of baggage to lug around.

If you’re prone to fear or anxiety, prepare with therapy or perhaps meditation and yoga that you can practice daily while traveling. Educate yourself on the countries you’re visiting, and know how to deal with the issues that are worrying you. Before I set off on a major ocean voyage, I was scared of encountering a medical emergency at sea, so prior to leaving I did a Wilderness First Responder course, which gave me the confidence to know what to do if the worst happened. Don’t ignore your worrying: flush it out and address it, otherwise it’ll leech from your experience.

Relationship baggage is cumbersome too.

Don’t assume that a change of scene will change the things you dislike in your relationship. Travel will aggravate differences, test moods, and reveal personal weaknesses. If you survive your travel experience, you’ll both come out much stronger, but if you set off with relationship baggage hoping it’ll get smoothed out on the road, you’re likely to end doing much more than arguing in an exotic destination. If your relationship can use some housecleaning, do it before you go.

Don’t count down your days until your upcoming adventure.

You may look at your upcoming adventure as your escape hatch from a crap job, a cold city, a bad relationship, or troubles with your parents. If that’s the case, you’re probably counting down the days until you leave. But remember—you’ll only ever have this moment at this age once. Just because you’re not in Mongolia or Buenos Aires doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate where you are right now—forgive your parents, move on from a bad relationship, quit your horrible job. Too much future-dwelling will put pressure on your travel plans to be your personal savior, and it won’t be … at least not forever. Your problems will be waiting for you on your return. Learn to be present and content when the sunset fades and the cocktails run out.

Keep your eyes fixed on the world.

Be careful not to witness your travels predominantly through the view-finder of your camera. It’s important to let yourself experience incredible moments in person, particularly in this narcissistic era of Facebook, Twitter and blogging. Snap some shots, document your experience, and then put the camera away and permit yourself to absorb the experience with your eyes wide open.

Remember that the bad times make great stories.

Shit will happen on your travels, that’s pretty much guaranteed. It wasn’t until I was writing a book that I realized the hard times make the most entertaining stories, so while it may not be much fun to live, at least you may be able to recycle it into an excellent yarn.

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You can never pack too many pairs of underpants.

They don’t take up much space, and no matter what exotic location you find yourself in, laundromats are boring hangouts. (Tip: thin, black fabric dries the fastest.)


This blog post was inspired by an interview on So Many Places.


Author’s bio: Torre DeRoche faced her fear of the ocean by island hopping across the Pacific for two years aboard a humble boat with a man she met in a bar. She has written a book titled Swept – Love With A Chance Of Drowning. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

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19 Response Comments

  • Raymond  April 6, 2011 at 3:54 am

    Some great advice Torre. I have to remember this one sometimes — “Don’t count down your days until your upcoming adventure.”

    I think I lot of us have a way of thinking “Things will be better when…”, but it’s important to live in the NOW. Otherwise, the same problems will follow you where ever your road takes you.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  April 6, 2011 at 4:07 am

      Thanks, Raymond. Falling into that pattern of “Things will be better when … ” is really just a way of procrastinating dealing with hard stuff, isn’t it?

      Reply
  • Tijmen  April 6, 2011 at 8:34 am

    I’m guilty of a few of them, especially counting down the days and looking at the world through my camera. Its sometimes so hard to stop taking photos, but later you realize you never really took the time to just enjoy the scenery for yourself, i’m just busy taking photos.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  April 6, 2011 at 10:54 pm

      So true. I lost my camera while in NZ, and I must admit I had a feeling of: “*Phew* I can relax now and not feel obligated to take pictures all the time!”

      Reply
  • Katja  April 6, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Ooh, the one about not pinning all your hopes on the future rang lots of bells with me. I’m terrible for not finishing one thing before getting all starry-eyed about the next. At the moment I’m thinking about my summer plans, when I haven’t even got to the Easter holidays yet! Bad Katja … 😉

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  April 6, 2011 at 10:55 pm

      It’s great to be excited, but not so great if you’re wishing your life away until that time.

      Reply
  • John D. Wilson  April 6, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Interesting approach to packing “to much baggage”.
    All true words of wisdom.
    Good post.
    Cheers,
    thebigmozey

    Reply
  • Kim  April 7, 2011 at 2:52 am

    Fantastic advice, all of it. I especially need to heed the advice about not wishing for the future to arrive so I can travel already. I do try to remind myself that today is still an amazing gift, so enjoy it. Thanks Torre!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  April 7, 2011 at 4:33 am

      No problem 🙂

      Reply
  • Lorna - the roamantics  April 7, 2011 at 9:02 am

    great tips torre! the one that resonates the most for me right now is not counting down. maybe that’s why i’m not booking a departure date- hmmm. it only makes those who love you feel bad, as if you can’t wait to get away from them, and it does just what you say- takes you out of the moment. especially important to do if you’re taking off for a long time or indefinitely!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  April 8, 2011 at 12:10 am

      Very true. I always try to think about how I always look back with nostalgia over the past, and how one day I might look at my ‘boring city life’ with nostalgia – ‘Remember how, back then, I could buy delicious cappuccinos and ride my bike around the city? Those were the days!’ It’s helpful to look back on your life as a future elderly person. Wishing away your youth is extremely wasteful.

      Reply
  • Ian [EagerExistence]  April 8, 2011 at 5:30 am

    OMG. Well timed advice. #1 don’t over-prepare. But what of under-preparing? Or is that just #2 my anxiety coming out?

    I leave in 8 days. Woops, just broke #4!! LOL. I can’t help but count down the days. It’s so exciting, and it’s gonna be such a challenge travelling solo, and to Turkey (1st) of all places!

    #7 I’ve heard from everyone. I’ve always been an advocate of clean undies and socks though.

    Look forward to more posts. I’ve just subscribed to your RSS.

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  April 8, 2011 at 5:41 am

      Thanks for you comment, Ian. I’m excited for you, which would be breaking rule #102 – ‘Getting excited over other people’s lives.’

      Socks last surprisingly long without a wash, especially if they’re wool. Not that I’ve … er … tried it or anything, but so I’ve heard … 🙂

      Reply
  • Lauren  April 8, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Really useful tips thanks!! I’ll be leaving in July, and this is really good advice 😀

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  April 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Lauren. Have a great adventure!

      Reply
  • amy  April 15, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Fantastic advice. I especially love the reminder on not counting the days. So often I get caught up in thinking of the future and then I think dang I missed today. I agree completely. Thank you for putting it in writing.

    I cannot wait to read your book!

    Reply
    • Torre DeRoche  April 16, 2011 at 3:07 pm

      Thanks Amy!
      Yes, it’s hard not to count down the days towards some future goal, like retirement in 40 years from now.

      Reply
  • Ian [EagerExistence]  October 16, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    “Learn to be present and content when the sunset fades and the cocktails run out.”
    Still working on this one… I write with a hangover today.

    Reply

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