1. Guidebooks are expensive but they are essential.
I’m never comfortable everytime I line up at the counter of Fullybooked to pay for a guidebook. But trust me, its always the first step.
Never open a guidebook in public lest you want to look like this.
2. Great back packs are a one time investment.
They will probably last longer than your traveling career, stuck on the deepest and darkest places in your basement or garage, to be discovered in your 80s while you find yourself suddenly reminiscing. Back packs are pillows on long train rides, a load on your back while you walk the streets of infernal Delhi in summer, rain of London in September, or Wilson if you’re an outcast.
I would never have survived miserable train rides if not for my favorite pillow.
3. Bring medicine.
I like leaving some things to spontaneity. I like trying to find the same soap I use at home, but struggle with different labels and packaging of other countries. But try that with medicines like hydrochloroquinone, medroxyprogesterone, you’ll probably have the most difficult time explaining that in Khmer. There are also some types of medicine that come the time you need it, its just too late and you’ll probably have to hide your soiled underwear and pants on page two of google. A small tip though, it has been a habit of mine to buy shavers on foreign land, but understand that a pack of 5 costs 5 euros in Spain, I don’t even want to think about its price in Switzerland.
When it comes to traveling, bawal magkasakit. (its forbidden to get sick)
4. On homesickness.
When you’re feeling homesick, nothing feels like home more than going out to watch a movie. Inside a dark movie house, with the latest block buster playing, you could barely tell the difference. Just make sure you ask if they show it in english. I once watched The Hobbit in Slovenian, glad I read the book. Its also a good gauge for measuring the difference in cost of living, how much are locals willing to pay for the simplest entertainment says about how much people’s wages are.
5. Keep a journal.
You don’t have to sound like Hemingway, you probably couldn’t drink as much to be one anyway, but write about your trip, give time. As simple as bullet form will do. 5 years from now, you will not remember that extremely tasty Czech food you had from what was that pub called again? Damn.
6. Learn basic words from the language of your destination.
Yes its true, everyone speaks english in Germany. Okay, perhaps they do, but you’ll get better portions in a restaurant if you ask the server “Enshooldegenzee, shprekenzee English?” I don’t expect you to speak Japanese fluently, they will help you anyway if you need to ask. But you will be hard pressed to find a Parisian who would, regardless if they do speak english or not. A hint, most of them do but are unwilling. Nor do you get points for effort even after desperately trying and ending up with bad grammar as well. Bottom line, its just hopeless to speak French to a Parisienne.
7. Travel alone once.
You will find out how to talk to people, regardless of how shy of a person you are. Some days, your first conversation are 10 hours away from the moment you wake up if you don’t try to start one yourself, some you really have no one to talk to. You will learn more about yourself, like how much shit you’re willing to put up with life. Traveling isn’t always comfortable. Aside from learning to be happy with yourself, you will also understand the value of companion. How can you go wrong by learning to value yourself and others? Its a win win situation.
Prost to new friends!
A Filipino, English, Japanese and Taiwanese.
Some days you just have no one to talk to.
8. Travel with a group.
Be it your loved one, or just a friend. There are trips that are defined by the people you spend it with. I remember my girlfriend and I traveled to Vietnam when we were still friends and there were times she’d cry from keeping up with me. When she became my girlfriend and we went to Japan, we fought most of the time. We went to Morocco after that and she suffered from exotic food and different people, lost 15 lbs. in 3 weeks, and got hospitalized the moment she got home. Now we’re talking about marriage and its probably best we stop traveling together. Haha. I kid. Bad experiences make excellent stories. Travel with a group because it becomes the seed from which endless conversations and life long friendships will spring from.
Let’s get weird in NYC!
Backpacker vs Tourist
Lovers in Japan
My girlfriend enjoying the Sahara wind.
My super group!
Along busy streets of Hong Kong.
Ayutthaya with my high school friends.
Street fighter in Seoul.
Forever couple buddies in Vigan.
Sid and Nancy.
Pretending to be stranded with my love.
9. Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive, far, or different.
I used to think that traveling means flying 10 hours stuck in economy cabin, landing on a different place that millions of other people dream of going, which millions of people have also been before you. Sure, Marrakech is exotic, listening to Scottish people talk is just as difficult talking to a Japanese, the funny lisp in Spain, spicy smell of Indians, the mighty Himalayas, but after some of these places I’ve been to, I realized that the mountains that I take for granted, barely 15 minutes away from my house by bicycle might be the highlight of the trip for a western traveler. I learned that taking my bike to the farming villages nearby, talking to their beautiful people and their simple and interesting way of living is also a form of traveling. The hell with it, I live a few houses down this house, and I am extremely fascinated every time I pass by it, reminds me of Under The Tuscan Sun.
A really short bike ride from my home.
Looks like a set from Under the Tuscan Sun’s Bramasole.
10. Embrace the difference.
The most important thing I’ve learned about traveling is that people are different but they mostly want the same things. If by chance, you find yourself complaining about widespread poverty in Delhi, boastful show of wealth in Dubai, most expensive cupcakes in NYC, merciless killing of bulls in Madrid, swimming outdoors in the coldest of winter nights in Budapest, a communal naked bath in Japan, or the European obsession in wine, its always best to embrace these differences. When you do, you’ll simply be a better person. You’ll be less judgmental about your alcoholic neighbor, flashy friend, or the daily beggar at the corner of Wilson and Ortigas.
Ridiculously priced cupcakes from NYC
The coldest of winter nights and people are swimming outdoor.
Human towers always crash.
Sexy and exotic Marrakech
This was plain dumb but also my best night in Barthelona.
Animal lovers nightmare in Lath Ventath, Madrid.
Why is Chefchaouen so blue?
European love for wine.
Child labor in India.
A taste of edible gold in Dubai.
People may be different but mostly they only want stability if not wealth, self respect for those who lack confidence, and most important of all, love, in whichever way they can find it.