Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Adventures in the Great Wide Somewhere // Do's and Don'ts of Travel

I'm a huge list person. With that said I love posts of Do's and Don'ts. Maybe it's just me but I feel like they kind of go hand in hand. Regardless, today I'm talking about my personal Do's and Don'ts of traveling. Everyone is different and will have their own opinions, my list is pretty general because I know how subjective traveling experience will be but there are a few tried and true observations and lessons I've learned throughout my years abroad.

DO Be Aware of Your Surroundings
I'm gonna start off with the boring buzzkill of safety right off the bat. While it's not the most fun thing to talk about, it is a necessity. I don't live my life in fear as I talked about in my Q&A but it is so incredibly important to just be aware of your surroundings. You might run a little on the side of skittish or you might not be concerned about safety at all, no matter which way you run you have to be aware of what and who is around you. I like to think I have a pretty good instinct but some people don't. A dark alleyway no matter how short is never a good idea. Just think through your choices of transportation and try to know where you're going before leaving your accommodation. Know that you will get lost but instead of asking a random on the street, go into a business or hotel you pass and ask for directions. You don't want strangers to know you're not only not from here, but you're lost as well. Work smarter, not harder. With that said...

DO Act Like a Local
Experiencing the intricacies of a hijab
No matter how lost or struggling you may be, be confident. Fake it 'til you make by pretending you know exactly what is going on. I'm by myself a lot walking around so I learned this very quickly. I figured if I looked confident and like I knew what I was doing I would blend in more and stand out as a traveler. It's worked. My first 5 minutes on the street in Buenos Aires a random girl asked me where something was. It was flattering as all fuck not only because I didn't really know where I was going either exactly but she thought I was somebody from around there enough to ask a question to. I usually always Google Map my destination before leaving wherever I'm staying and I keep it out. Most people walk with their cell phones out for texting, etc so nobody really knows I'm constantly checking my location on my map. Best of both worlds.

DON'T Judge Other Cultures
I have met and traveled with some really great people but there's always a random ignorant asshole that makes you wonder why they're there in the first place. The most beautiful thing to me about traveling is experiencing other people's cultures and ways of life. Only one thing on this list makes me more infuriated than somebody saying something rude or ignorant about another culture. Not everyone has the fortune of being born in a first world country. Some people need to be reminded of their privilege prior to traveling and not judge others. Because of that...

DO Keep an Open Mind
The best thing you can bring with you when traveling is an open mind. Like I said above, don't judge people. Accept and learn from their differences and be grateful for the things you have. I am a completely changed person because of my travels and seeing other walks of life. It also makes me grateful for the most simple things. With that in mind...

DON'T Say the Phrase "In America..." EVER
For the love of all things holy nothing enrages me more than somebody saying "In America we do it this way." Or "We don't do that in Australia" Or my favorite "Maybe they should do this, it's how it is in the United States." Pardon my French, but shut the actual fuck up. There is nothing more rude or condescending that saying any form of the phrases above. Ya know what, you're not in America. You're not at home. They've done this and lived this way for thousands of years, shut up and appreciate the differences. Please don't ever, ever, ever be this person. Nobody likes that person. I shun this person.
All my travel journals. Clearly I've gotten more creative...

DO Keep a Journal
The best thing I've ever forced myself to do is keep a journal on every trip I go on. Yes, it gets tedious. Yes, I always get behind. But I always force myself to finish and catch up because it is so worth it. I also usually turn it into an instant scrapbook. I cut out brochures from places I went and ticket stubs and tape them in. A little bit of extra work but oh, so worth the effort. Instant travel keepsake and it's always fun to glance through them when you're feeling like you need a little wanderlust in your life.

DON'T Live By 'Should'
The best and most important 'Don't' I live by when I travel is not to live up to somebody else's expectations. There's always a 'You should do this in *insert city here*' OR 'You're in Berlin, it's a huge party city, you should go out' OR 'the local delicacy is this, you should buy it.' No, just no. Don't let anyone else tell you what you 'should' do when you travel. This leads directly into my last and most important Do of travel...

DO You
One of my favorite phrases is 'You Do You' and I don't think there is a more important time to live by this than when you travel. As I said above, don't let anyone tell you what you should do on a trip, in a certain city, at a certain time. While I truly believe in getting out of your comfort zone there are some things that you shouldn't feel pressured to do.

Example? I'm not a foodie. I am super picky about food and have been my whole life. You will rarely see posts about food or restaurants in my travel posts. Why? Because I don't like to. What has been great about doing tours with Topdeck are a lot of dinners are included which will include local cuisine. I have tried a ton of food and it's almost always been on these dinners. I don't feel comfortable ordering something random on my own that I'm not sure I'll like. 1. I'm picky 2. If I don't like it I still have to pay for food I didn't eat and 3. I'm out money AND I'm still hungry. Food is a source of comfort for me when I travel and while I'm open-minded to an extent, trying everything new food-related is not something I like to do.

Another 'should' people like to talk about is going out and nightlife. If you're not a person who likes going out and drinking, don't do it. I'm half and half about this. I'm more likely to go out in a foreign city if I'm with a group but at the same time I don't feel like I 'have to' and a lot of times I don't. That's not my personality and I really dislike when people feel the need to tell me what to do. Travel is subjective and push your comfort zone as you see fit. For some people, just leaving their hometown is a lot, for others it's doing an extreme sport somewhere. You do you and don't let anyone tell you what you 'should' be doing when you're traveling. Make your trip your own and as long as you're having a good time, that's all that matters.
Have your home runs in books, not foreign countries...IMO

DO Have Your Own Personal Rules
I mentioned these already in my Q&A but it never hurts to bring them up again. These really are pretty self-explanatory and should--see that, I broke my own rule, what can I say I'm a rebel--be for everyone. But with the Rio scandal in our rearview mirror I thought it was a good idea to include them again.

1. Don't Do Anything Illegal or Anything That Could Get You Arrested (Ryan Lochte I'm looking at you)
I mean, this one should be obvious as all fuck but people do stupid things. While I will admit to kicking a guy in the chest at a Florence karaoke bar, that was mostly in good fun. What was not in good fun was when, out of nowhere, I got felt up by a stranger on stage at a bar and seconds before punching him in the actual face, I remembered this rule and really didn't want to get arrested for assault in Amsterdam. Betty, Hannah, and Alexa joke that I will one day be on Locked Up Abroad but most likely not actually because the not doing anything illegal includes drugs; legal Amsterdam special brownies or not, no drugs will be partaken in ever.

2. Don't Get Any Tattoos
Not so obvious. While the idea of getting inked in a foreign country seems whimsical and romantic, I have zero knowledge about health codes in foreign countries, First World Country or not, I don't trust any needles outside the US of A. A girl I met in South America wanted to get a tattoo in Brazil and me and the girl she was traveling with both looked at her like she had 3 heads. I cannot think of a worse idea (ok I can think of a few but still) than letting a foreign country stick a needle repeatedly into my skin. Nobody wants to find out the hard way that this country or that country doesn't sterilize their needles as well as they should. Congrats, you now have Hepatits B for the rest of your life.

3. Don't *ahem* Do...Anybody
I debated adding this one because it's a little crass but for real, it's important. I'm all about beautiful foreign men *cough* but be smart. I know friends who don't play by this rule and some have been fine and some who have had to take a few Plan B doses. Granted, there's a big gray area here. I myself have landed in the gray are a few times but um...let's just say a home run is never on the table. You can run the other bases as you see fit but home base should be reserved just for home.

Do you have any Do's and Don'ts while traveling?
Any of mine resonate with you?

Don't forget to post on Instagram with the hashtag #WanderlustWednesday! It can be anything--a throwback travel photo of a place you've been, a Google image of where you want to go, an inspirational quote, a travel themed trinket you have, anything that inspires your wanderlust.


  1. Love your list of dos and don'ts, Kel! I definitely agree with the very first one. It's always good to be aware of your surroundings, do your research and make the smarter choices. I also love the journaling one! I only started doing it as an adult but it is really fun to be able to look back on trips :)

    1. It is such a pain to do at the time, journaling, but so worth it to look back on! I force myself to do and am always happy I do!


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