Some people are not meant for long-term travel. Some prefer to sleep in their own bed and enjoy the creature comforts of home. Others thrive in routine and predictability. None of these are available for those who have chosen to live out of their backpack in foreign countries. It takes a certain kind of person to be fit for long-term travel. Throughout my time on the road, I’ve identified and cultivated some traits and habits that make my life much easier.
Much of your time traveling will be spent waiting. You wait to talk to immigration control at border crossings. You wait for your waiter to acknowledge your presence at a restaurant. You wait for your bus driver to finish chatting with his buddies to drive you to your next destination. Nothing runs according to schedule, and you’re constantly at the whim of others. But what do you care? You don’t have a return ticket, do ya? I try to remind myself that I’m not in a rush if I start feeling a little anxious or frustrated.
I talked about trusting your instincts in a video blog I did awhile back. Being intuitive is probably one of the most valuable tools for all areas of life, not just traveling.
Only highly enlightened beings have the ability to look at the world from a non-biased perspective. The way I see the world is greatly determined by my place of birth, my family, my socioeconomic background, my personal history, my culture, my gender… the list goes on and on. Of course, not everyone has the same morals, standards, and values as me. I have seen a number of things that I didn’t agree with or couldn’t understand. When confronted with this type of situation, I try to remind myself that I am on the outside looking in and can never fully understand all of the complex processes coming into play. It’s best to approach the world with an open mind, or else you’ll end up judging a person or a culture due to a limited viewpoint. (Side note: I do believe that certain actions are always wrong, such as abuse, and this suggestion is by no means advocating the same.)
This is an especially valuable habit for female travelers. Though I feel the majority of people I come across are helpful and kind, there are certainly those who have less-than-noble intentions. This could include a taxi driver who refuses to use his meter, a saleslady trying to sell you stuff you don’t need, or a guy with weird vibes asking where you’re staying. If you have a wishy-washy personality, people will sense that and try to take advantage of you at every turn. Even those with good instincts sometimes fail to pair them with assertion, and get themselves into a sticky situation that could have been prevented. Afraid you’ll come off as offensive, rude, or stuck up? They’re counting on that, so don’t be. If you don’t stick up for yourself, no one will.
What practice or aspect of your personality has served you while traveling long term?