8 Travel Lessons You Can Learn From Your Cat
1. Always take the window seat.
My cat always finds the best seat in the house, and that seat is always right by the window. Sure, an aisle seat may be tempting, especially if you frequent the bathroom and you’re on a nine-hour flight to Austria — but when you touch down in a country you’ve never seen before, you don’t want the two people on your right to be blocking 70% of your view.
Whether you’re on a plane to Uruguay, a train from Amsterdam to London, or in a Parisian cafe, the best seat is where you can see everything that’s happening around you.
2. Nap anywhere you can.
Cats sleep 16-20 hours a day, because being “king of the household” is pretty damn exhausting. Traveling can also be exhausting, especially if you’re saving money by opting for connecting flights and early-morning travel times. So if you can sneak a quick nap in on the bus ride from Vienna to Prague or sprawl out on a rock by the water at the Swiss National Park, do it.
Who knows if you’ll actually be getting any shuteye at your hostel after binge drinking with Australian backpackers all night.
3. Always be alert.
Think your cat isn’t paying attention? Drop something that rolls, dangles, or makes a noise, and I guarantee your cat will spring into action.
In travel, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. If you’re in an almost empty metro car, should that guy really be standing so close to you? The man you asked for directions says he knows a faster route, but how could this be a shortcut if he’s leading you farther away from the action at Camden Market? Use your gut; if something doesn’t seem right, get out.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want (especially if what you want is food).
No matter what time of morning it is, if my cat’s hungry, she makes it known — by meowing, licking me, and, if all else fails, knocking the heaviest things her little paws can push off of my dresser until she gets fed.
If you’re traveling in Poland and don’t speak the language, point at whatever delicious food you want but can’t even begin to pronounce. I definitely need my fill of krischickies, and I won’t leave until someone sells them to me.
5. Take time to people watch.
There’s nothing my cat loves more than sitting for hours on end watching our neighbors go about their business. There’s also no better way to immerse yourself in a culture than to watch the locals out and about, living life.
Take some time to watch the street vendors sell to their regular customers at Chandni Chowk in Delhi, observe the passengers on the boats of the Stockholm canal, and appreciate the way Italians greet each other at the Caffè della Pace.
6. Keep yourself clean.
My cat’s coat is shinier than Beyoncé’s weave because she spends about half her day tending to it (my cat, not Beyoncé). No one likes a smelly traveler — especially not on a six-hour bus ride from Rio to São Paulo.
Clean yourself on the regular (even if it means braving the scuzzy hostel bathroom), and make sure your hair is always silky smooth. You don’t need to pack a lot of grooming supplies for the road, but you don’t need to look slovenly either.
7. Stretch early, stretch often.
Cats are more flexible than any yogi could ever aspire to be because they stretch before and after pretty much everything they do. If you don’t immediately take the biggest, longest stretch you can possibly take when waking up after napping on the flight from Brazil to Argentina, or after eating your weight in chole bhature in India, or at least every 30 minutes on the seven-and-a-half-hour bus ride from Athens to Thessaloniki, your cat would say you’re doing it wrong.
8. Don’t be afraid to travel alone.
My cat prefers to experience new things on her own — whether it’s an empty box or a bag of groceries I left unattended. Don’t wait for someone to get on board with your travel plans. That saying about how curiosity killed the cat is complete BS. Don’t let other people get in the way of your awesome travel experiences, because most people don’t die from booking that two-week trip to Taiwan, that road trip down the California coastline, or even that long-weekend getaway to Toronto.