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.
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.