Until you find yourself hopelessly lost in the middle of a place like Lesbos island in Greece, trying to find your way to Sappho Square in Mytilini Town. But nobody speaks a damned word of English, and you’ll literally beg someone to point you in the right direction before you miss your bus, because so far you’ve only managed to master the greeting yassas (hello) despite having been in the country for two months already.
Because that’s just an unbelievably stupid idea, and you know it. And then you find yourself making out with a Portuguese man with a funny mole on his chin, in some crowded bar in Athens, while your new hostel friends laugh and gently try to pry you away. You’ll thank them later.
You’ll love the solitude and general do-what-I-want attitude, until one evening you find yourself sitting at a café in a plaza in Dubrovnik, underneath the clock tower, watching friends and strangers mingle and laugh with hands clutched around white cups of cappuccino. And you’ll resist the urge to walk up to a table and say, “Hey, can I be your friend?” Because that’s actually not always a great way to make friends.
Until you’re left immobilized with the world’s worst bladder infection after a week sailing the Adriatic Sea, just days before you’re supposed to fly home. And all you want to do is call Mom and have her take care of you and feed you chicken soup instead of sleeping 12-hour days in a loud hostel, in too much pain to even stand upright. Moms just have that touch.
You’ll find serenity somewhere. You’ll love the gorgeous quiet of life on an olive farm, and beginning your mornings with homemade fig jam and honey from the beehives, and pruning olive trees, and working in the vineyard. And then you’ll spend evenings reading and writing, and loving every second of it, until you just want one week of letting loose and being a stupid, silly backpacking partier because, remember, NOBODY knows you here. Remember? You can take on any persona here.
You’ll make a personal promise to download iPhone training apps and yoga video tutorials, and you’ll vow to hike at every possible opportunity or to take up running because it’s really the only way you can work off all those Neapolitan pizzas while travelling in Italy. But instead you tell yourself you walk everywhere while travelling anyway, so surely that must make up for being a lazy blob.
You’ll keep this vow for longer than your others, until you realize eating a salad at every meal is a ridiculous notion when there’s a world of grilled meats and cheese pies and spicy curry literally outside your front door. The same goes for alcohol, or local drink specialties. One taste of that Inca Cola and you know you’ll have to drink it every day throughout the duration of your trip to Peru because you may never get to experience it again.
Because it’s your time, dammit, and part of the reason you’re travelling solo is because you’re single, and you want to do this while you’re unburdened, unattached, floating free like a balloon in a small child’s hand. Until again you meet that handsome German stranger, and one week later you’re curled up in their arms like a toy poodle.
And then you decide maybe falling in love on the road isn’t so bad, until it’s time to part ways. And then suddenly it’s, “Holy crap, visas are really hard to figure out,” and, besides, what happens when you spend too much time together and the magic fizzles out quicker than an open bottle of diet cola?
In actuality, walking into a hostel bar and introducing yourself to a whole crew of new people you’ve never met before but who somehow seem to all know one another is absolutely the most terrifying, panic-inducing thing you’ve ever had to do. And you may require a tall glass of vodka beforehand.
Yeah, you’ll find yourself. You’ll find yourself understanding that travel is quite easy, and even if you don’t make any grandiose self-discovery statements, you’re gonna have a damned good time trying to do so anyway. At least before you head back home to your corner of the universe, back inside the cube or in front of the computer, and you’ll hardly believe you’ve done so much, but the Instagrams prove you did. And then you’ll realize, “I need to do that again.” Over and over again, because travelling solo becomes the addiction, and it’s not a bad habit to have.
Photo: Bárbara Paz Rebolledo Bustamante
I cringe when readers ask how many days they should spend traveling in a particular country or city. The truth is I have no idea what you’ll enjoy or who you’ll meet. I thought I’d rocket through Nicaragua in a week or two, but ended up living there for 4-months because I liked it so much.
My advice is to pick a starting point, 1 or 2 must-do activities, and an ending point (or not). Then just let the universe determine the rest. Be flexible and open to change your plans if you learn about something along the way!
There’s no need to be fluent in order to visit a foreign country. However, one tip I’ve learned is to master a few phrases in the local language can improve your travel experience. Hello, please, thank you, nice to meet you, excuse me, sorry, and “can I take your portrait” are some of my favorites.
Not being able to communicate while traveling can be frustrating, but remember that this is your problem, not theirs. Raising your voice doesn’t magically help Mexican’s understand English. Try hand signals, images on your phone, or Google Translate!
Having your bank card details stolen can suck, but especially if it happens when you’re visiting a foreign country. If your card gets frozen, stolen, or the ATM machine eats it, you’re screwed! Unless you happen to carry backup cards…
An important travel banking tip is to pack a 2nd bank account/debit card plus a backup credit card, which you keep separate from your wallet. This way, if your wallet gets stolen, or your ATM card gets declined, you are still able to have access to money during your travels.
Sometimes, after a long flight playing games on your smartphone, your battery could end up dead. And if you didn’t write down the address of where you’re staying, how will you tell/show the taxi driver?
As ridiculous as it sounds, I’ve done this a few times and it’s awkward. Falling asleep or forgetting to charge my phone. I’d also recommend writing down your hotel room number somewhere after you check in.
Before you travel to a new country, I recommend reading a good book about it, to learn more about history and culture before you arrive. This could be as simple as a Lonely Planet guidebook, or maybe a popular novel by a local author.
Your on-the-ground travel experience will feel much more fulfilling if you already know some details about the area you’re visiting. Don’t worry, you’ll still discover plenty of new stuff, but you’ll have a foundation to start on.
I’m a huge fan of budget travel, as it allows you to travel longer and experience more of the fascinating world we live in rather than waste your hard-earned money on stuff you don’t need. In fact you can travel many places for $50 a day with no problems.
That said, living on a shoestring budget gets old after a while. It’s nice (and healthy) to go over your budget occasionally. Book a few days at a nice hotel, eat out at a fancy restaurant or spend a wild night on the town. Enjoy yourself!
Travel Tips to Help You Pack Smarter
“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” – Danny Kaye
Traveling is an amazingly underrated investment in yourself. As you travel you’re exposed to more new people, cultures, and lifestyles than you are living in your homeland all the time. With all the newness in your life, you’re also opened to new insights, ways of seeing the world and living, which often gives people a new purpose for their lives. If you’re feeling stuck on what your purpose is, what you want to do with your life, the career or educational path you want to pursue, go travel…you might just be surprised about what you discover as a new sense of life purpose and direction.
Never wait until you have reached the airport to inform the airline that you have a minor traveling unaccompanied. Always provide this information to customer service over the phone, and have them inform you of all your options, fees, and so forth.
Try to purchase your child a nonstop ticket to minimize the chance of travel snafus, even if he or she is old enough to make connections. If a change of planes is necessary, aim to use a small, less intimidating airport for the transfer. That said, some airlines restrict which connecting cities are permitted for children flying alone.
Make sure your child carries plenty of emergency information. For example, leave instructions on how to handle flight delays or cancellations, including emergency contacts and a means to pay for necessities, such as overnight accommodation. Your child should also carry identification, such as a copy of his or her birth certificate.
Familiarize your child with his or her itinerary and make sure all travel documents are kept in a safe place—especially if they’ll be needed for a return flight.
Try to book a morning flight. If it is delayed or canceled, you have the rest of the day to make alternate plans.
Small children may have trouble with checked baggage. If possible, stick with a single carry-on bag and a personal item. If not, take a careful look at your child’s checked bag stubs to be sure that the luggage claim ticket and luggage tag match your child’s final destination.
Get to the airport earlier than usual to ease check-in and get children accustomed to their surroundings. If possible, show them where help desks are located and teach them to recognize uniformed employees.
Make sure your child has a photo of the person meeting him or her, as well as that person’s full name, address, and phone number. You will need to provide contact information to the airline as well. The adult meeting your child at the destination airport should carry photo identification.
Pack some snacks for your child such as chips, sandwiches, trail mix, or other finger foods like grapes or berries. You may also want to purchase juice or water for your child after you pass through the security checkpoint.
Be sure your child has plenty of things to keep him or her entertained in flight, such as a tablet stocked with games or a few favorite books.
Give your child a little cash to cover incidental expenses in the event of an emergency.
Just because a 5-year-old is permitted to fly solo, that doesn’t mean that your 5-year-old will be able to handle flying alone, especially if your child hasn’t flown before. Parents should use common sense and make a decision based on their own child’s level of maturity.
Instagram is one of the best tools to shine a spotlight on your adventures and seek inspiration. It's also a great way to stay connected with friends and events that are happening around the world. There are so many ways you can use Instagram in your daily life that go far beyond posting pictures, but first things first: Let's talk about your Instagram bio. If you're a wanderluster, travel quotes for your Instagram bio are essential to setting the vibes for your profile, and may very well help you connect with other likeminded travelers.
Instagram is an incredible resource for those who have caught the travel bug. Whether you're currently on a trip, reflecting on a previous trip, or seeking inspiration to plan a future trip, there's no better place to share travel imagery. You can keep your family members and friends updated while you're on the go. It can also serve as a great memory book for your adventures for many years to come. Just be sure to work on your captions and your Instagram bio so that they represent your love for travel in the most perfect way possible.
1. "Queen of jet lags."
2. "Catching flights, not feelings."
4. "When life gives you lemons, fly to Italy for limoncello."
5. "I've never taken a vacation I didn't like."
6. "She believed she could, so she did." вЂ” R.S. Grey
7. "Living my best life."
8. "En route to vacation."
9. вЂњAnd suddenly you know: It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.вЂќ вЂ” Meister Eckhart
10. "Head in the clouds."
11. "Forever falling for waterfalls and wanderlust."
12. "Daydreaming about where to fly next."
13. "Where to next?"
14. "Life is too short to stay in one place, so BRB."
15. "On vacation, be back soon."
16. "In a committed relationship with my passport."
17. "It's wine o'clock somewhere, so wheels up."
18. "Onto the next destination."
19. "She turned her can'ts into cans and her dreams into plans." вЂ” Kobi Yamada
20. "Just here to see new places and meet new faces."
21. "The most important thing is to enjoy your life вЂ” to be happy вЂ” itвЂ™s all that matters.вЂќ вЂ” Audrey Hepburn
22. "The best adventures come from traveling outside of your comfort zone."
23. "Adventure is what happens while you scroll through Instagram."
24. "Leaving a bit of sparkle everywhere I go."
25. "Risk taker. Adventurer. Globetrotter. Living my dreams."
26. "Living in the present for the stories I'll tell in the future."
27. вЂњExactly where I want to be: right here in paradise."
28. "Seas the day."
29. "Catchin' flights since *insert date.*"
30. "I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list." вЂ” Susan Sontag
31. "My best stories are found within the pages of my passport."
32. "Join me as I take on the world."
33. "On a constant search for some vitamin sea."
34. "Just a wandering soul, in need of an exciting new adventure."
This article was originally published on Dec. 19, 2018