It is currently 8:03 pm, and I’m in the backseat of a truck near D.C. on our way home from Greenville for the weekend. And all that’s on my mind is travel. Greenville is a rad town. I didn’t want to leave. The towns we’ve driven through during the past 10+ hours with their quaint homes or brilliant city lights, and the blue mountain silhouettes, and the numerous planes that have soared overhead . . . It’s hard to NOT think about my travels, both past and future. And pinning pins on Pinterest with airplanes, mountains, or New Zealand is doing little to satiate my wanderlust. So I’ve let my mind wander to Philly . . . Miami . . . Grenada . . . Trinidad . . . Barbados . . . And I’ve come up with 5 don’t’s and 5 do’s I’ve learned from traveling on my own.
1) Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes you’ll get ugly looks. It’s ok. Sometimes you’ll meet a really sweet wiggle-chin elderly lady who volunteers at the airport every other Thursday. But it’s better to look silly than to end up lost or in trouble.
2) Don’t bring more than you can carry. This would seem like a duh, but this is honestly something to truly consider. I took 2 suitcases, a backpack (that fell apart during my travel day), and a guitar in an ordinary non-backpack case. The guitar and my backpack were carry-ons, and they were SO cumbersome. If I could do it again, I would definitely pack lighter items in the backpack; make sure it’s actually a sturdy backpack; and try to get a lightweight guitar case with straps so I can carry it more easily.
3) Don’t freak out. Both days I traveled to Grenada by myself, in February and in May, I was so emotional I could barely get where I needed to be. It’s ok to cry, but it’s better to get where you need to be and do what you need to do. The emotional breakdown can wait til you’re on your way.
4) Don’t take advice from just anyone. Being in a foreign country, where I was a young white American girl often on my own, there were definitely men who did not in fact want to help me get to the correct bus terminal. Be smart.
5) Don’t be unaware of the culture. I asked a lot of dumb questions about where I was, but once I really opened my eyes to the people and the surroundings, experiencing was better than hearing about it.
1) Do learn to laugh at yourself. You will make mistakes, get to your gate barely in time, say the wrong thing in the foreign language, but just laugh and take it all in.
2) Do be prepared for customs. Have the address of where you’re staying. If you don’t have that, at least have the phone number of the hotel or person you’re staying with.
3) Do slow down and take it all in. No matter where you go–one state over or to a distant island–there is so much to see, to be, and to do that is different from your home town. And journal. Definitely do journal. You may not think you’ll want to remember every embarrassment, challenge, laughter, moment; but you will.
4) Do pack as simply as possible. If you can buy it while you’re there, do. If you can do without it for a week or however long you’re going, skip it. And if you don’t need to bring it back, or you can replace it when you get home, leave it behind.
5) Do be aware of your own shortcomings, and how you can grow and change. Adapt to your surroundings. Don’t be staunch and overly-American or, in my case, totally “Bethany”. Do be teachable, both in the literal travel experience + trip, and the things you learn that can affect or change your being, your existence, your very life.
Thanks for reading! I look forward to sharing more of my travels with you, and hopefully you’ll come up with your own travel tips.