What I Know as a Traveler at 35 That I Wish I Knew When I Was Younger

by Rory Moulton May 25, 2016

1. Travel isn’t an excuse to get shit-faced.

Get a little sauced after a big day and definitely sample the local libations, but don’t make the whole trip about drinking. No matter what the Australians say.

2. Travel isn’t an excuse to get laid.

Romance is a byproduct of travel, not the reason to travel.

3. Don’t fall in love — travel romances are supposed to end.

You won’t visit. You won’t meet up in X. I’m grateful for the experiences, but those fleeting, foreign relationships are best left as memories.

4. Travel will never be so cheap.

Enjoy it while it lasts, for within the decade you’ll have two more human beings on your expense ledger.

5. You can sleep when you get home.

My god, man, wake up! I know you think you need all 8 hours, but trust me on this: Burn the candle at both ends. You can catchup on sleep later.

6. Stop eating crappy street food just because it’s street food.

There is a difference between good street food and regular street food. Someday you will learn it.

7. Add 20% to your budget.

Budget more now, so you won’t feel the pinch later. Travel isn’t about saving money or scoring deals, so save a little more than you think you’ll need.

8. You won’t be back.

Repeat what I said: You won’t be back. Make the most of every trip because as much as you think you’ll return, you’ll be lured away by another destination on your ever-growing hit list.

9. Keep packing that frisbee.

Getting older doesn’t mean abandoning this priceless icebreaker, time-killer and impromptu plate.

10. The overnight train only barely counts as a night’s sleep.

But you should still take it.

11. There’s no such thing as a free anything.

Always look for the ulterior motive…and carry small bills.

12. Beware of absolutes.

Don’t believe there’s a “best” this or “can’t-miss” that. Go find out for yourself and follow your wanderlust, even if it doesn’t take you where everyone else is going.

13. A little research is worth it.

Soon enough your world will be inundated with niche guidebooks, travel bloggers, Instagram feeds, travel memoirs and modern travel lit. Instead of just hopping that flight to Bali with little more than a frisbee and a vague notion, try doing a little historical and travel research.

14. Say “Yes.”

You’ll constantly face yes-or-no decisions on your travels. The correct answer is almost always, “Yes.”

15. There are reasons areas are off limits.

Respect those reasons and you’ll show the world to your future son as you saw it.

16. The city looks better from a rooftop.

It’s a little scary how easy it can be to access a building’s roof. Exploit that.

17. Travel for yourself, not others.

Don’t get sucked into group decision-making — see, go and do everything your heart desires. Don’t hesitate to split from the group. You can tell everyone else about it over beers at night.

18. Chart your own path — don’t replicate your hero’s.

The older you get, the more you’ll see chinks in your hero’s armor and the more you’ll realize that your life is your life, not Hemingway’s or Kerouac’s or Earhart’s.

19. Sunrises beat sunsets.

It has nothing to do with beauty, but everything to do with a sunrise’s promise of a new adventure and the productive early start to your travel day.

20. The time is now.

Not mañana, not next month. Go, do, see, eat, love NOW.

21. Keep a daily journal/blog/vlog, and stay in touch with all these people.

You’ll regret not doing so as weeks become months and months turn into years and what was once so fresh and alive in your head becomes a vapor trail as memories fade, replaced by new ones.

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