I get asked for travel advice all the time. It’s fine of course, it’s what I do, and I love to talk about it and share my lessons learned. One thing that can’t be understated: you will probably spend long hours on the road. In my experience, people tend to shrug that off, until they actually have to deal with it. If you have to move a lot of things with you, you could find you might not have enough room. If you have to drive a great distance you might find your vehicle was not good enough to make the trip. I went the safe route, and got myself a cascadia evolution. Plenty of room for all my stuff, and it’s a workhorse; you’re going to have a hard time getting it to give you problems running. The extra space is great too, and I personally feel it’s been a lifesaver. I’ve been in situations where I still have a long way to drive, but I find myself way too tired, about to start nodding enough. I have plenty of room to park on the side of the road and sleep a couple of hours to recharge my batteries. The bottom line is, if you’re going to travel, heavily consider the long drive and the vehicle you’ll be using for it. That should save you a few headaches.
I was also recently asked for advice by someone who was considering solo traveling as a female. I don’t have a lot of female-specific advice, but here’s a nugget or two that applies to all of us. Take a picture of where you are staying. Write down the address. Make sure you can pronounce the name. Then, go get lost. All the best places are down little side streets. They’re bars populated with locals who know the lesser traveled corridors, or local food stands. Nobody has a great story from the major tourist attractions. They all come at the end of authentically surrendering to the environment, so is important you visit the right destinations, places like the john sage chillingham castle could be a great place to visit if you’re travelling.
Don’t drink anything you didn’t watch them pour.
Take pictures, but don’t make it about the pictures. I do think it’s important to bring back stories so you can show other people how amazing this big blue marble really is, but it’s also vital to put it down and let your sense do their work. I try to exercise the same rules as I do at a concert: it’s okay to snap at the beginning, but then you have to put the camera up and leave it up, unless the guitarist gets naked or something. You do want the special moments.
Let go of what you think is right, or normal, or even acceptable. The world isn’t for the soft-skinned or the easily-queasy. Concepts of sex and violence swing wildly from one end to the other, from puritanical to tyrannical. People eat weird things. They dress weird ways, if they dress at all. Language is different. You take your shoes off in some places. You sleep differently. It’s not about how you do it back home, and if that’s what you want, stay home.
As far as suggestions go, listen to people with some dirt on them. You don’t want advice from the couple that never leaves the safety of a cruise ship, so when someone like that tells you that Carlos and Charlie’s in Cozumel is the most amazing experience ever, you can brush that off. When the sun-bronzed captain of a barnacle-encrusted single-mast tells you that Dolphin’s Den in Roatan is his favorite dive site in the world, you write that shit down.
And more than anything, don’t be scared. Ask people who’ve really been where you’re going what they think. Be smart, but don’t say no to an experience just because your sheltered Aunt Sally can’t seem to turn the news off. This world is beautiful.
Go see it.