If I could go back and give myself advice or have the luxury of traveling long term again, here’s the advice I’d give.
- Exercise– I don’t like this at all. But when you’re out traveling, carrying your backpack or whatever activity comes along, you’ll be grateful. I didn’t do much leading up to my departure. I made attempts at doing pushups, planks and squats. There were stretches of a few weeks that I kept up with it. I spent a month or so bike riding everyday. I felt that the small amount did help (especially when I did ride a bike abroad) so I could imagine how much better it would have been to take it seriously. Practice walking up stairs. Seriously, there’s so many more stairs to climb when you travel. I must have walked miles up stairs.
- Pack less– I didn’t think I overpacked much. I did use 95% of what I brought with me but the 5% could have allowed more room in my already small backpack. It could have been 5% less to carry.
- Know when to make plans– People might say to leave travel plans open but sometimes it doesn’t pan out if you’re on a budget. I had a hard time in Kyoto because I didn’t think autumn would be so busy all the time plus the two holidays guidebooks failed to mention. My flight to Delhi could have been cheaper if I made an effort to decide earlier when I wanted to leave.
- Be more social– China stood out as the top country because I kept meeting people. We didn’t spend a lot of time together but even the late night talks in Beijing were fun.
- Get out of the cities– This of course depends on your preference. As fun as the places were, I wished I picked more time to explore natural settings– Beaches, mountains even small small villages.
- Take risks– Whether it is talking to strangers, doing new activities or finding quirky cultural things, just do more of it.
Travel advice that I would give others:
- Take the side streets– There’s usually a bunch of ways to get somewhere. In a city I avoid the main street, trying to see something new, unexpected.
- If there’s a line, get in it! — Typically, I only apply this to food and it’s usually worth it. I don’t even know what it is half the time.
- Talk to people– I don’t do it enough but it does make the experience more memorable. Also, learn how to ask the right question. Don’t ask where the best restaurant is but ask where the person likes to eat.