Be Brave

I’m in no way an expert, but these are some things I’ve learnt through the years, so bear with me and excuse my rambles.

Know what you want out of your travels.
Do you want to see a city? Do you want to check out every museum there is? That’s cool. Do you want to lie on a beach and jump into the sea whenever you feel like it? That’s cool too. Are you an avid mountaineer? Awesome. Just know beforehand and don’t be disappointed when you might not be able to pack all of the things you want to do into one single trip.

Choose your travel partners wisely.
Traveling can be a real trial of friendship. Choose your partners carefully. Do they want the same things out of the trip as you? What kind of attitude do they have towards other countries and cultures?
If you think that you are too different from each other you might not be happy during your travels if you constantly have to cut back on what you want out of it.
If there are only minor differences, don’t let them deter you. Compromise on some things and you might be surprised to where this will lead you. This leads to my next point:

Embrace the unexpected.
Be spontaneous. Be daring. When can you if not now? Where if not here? Go out and try to see where your limits are. How far can you go? What can you endure and what not?
It’s exhilarating. Scary, yes, but it makes you feel alive.
It’s important to make plans. However, it’s equally important to be flexible enough to let the plans you made go and make new ones at the drop of a hat.

Take care of yourself.
In more than one way. Be careful with your money and who you trust. Get to know your surroundings and get a feel for what is safe to do and what not.
But also, take care of yourself on another level. Say you meet people along the road, you quickly befriend them but then realise you can’t see eye to eye on some things anymore, don’t be afraid to go your own way. In the end you shouldn’t hold back on what you truly want just because of others.
You need to be at peace with your decisions and experiences. If they’re being rude, if their  attitude towards other cultures doesn’t match your own, tell them. If nothing changes, go your own way.

Pack, cut in half, pack again.
So far I’ve never, ever worn all of the clothes I packed for a trip. I always came back home with a couple of still perfectly folded T-shirts or pants which I just never even took out of my suitcase or backpack.
You don’t need much on travels. And you know…. people know how to wash clothes in other countries as well….

Get to know the country you travel to.
What is the religion? How’s the weather? What is the political situation? Learn everything you can before you go there and then learn even more once you’re there. Be open and not afraid to be proven wrong. Being surprised is a wonderful thing.

Talk talk talk.
To natives, to other travelers, to the cook of the roadside restaurant. It doesn’t really matter. Ask questions. Never stop asking even what you might consider to be a stupid question because you will get a whole new experience out of it.
Still, be gentle and aware of cultural differences. Don’t come on too strong and respect the opinions of others.
Try to learn at least a few words and standard phrases in the local language. This will open you doors you’d never expected. People will view you differently. Even small words like “Hello“, “Please“ and “Thank you“ will make a huge difference.
Know when to accept, but also when to challenge and question.

Be patient.
Know that you’re not at home. Things will take time, things will most likely not go as planned but you will get to where you want to be eventually. Don’t stress. There’s no point in complaining that a bus is late or a merchant ripped you off. These things happen. Learn from them, embrace them,

Be open.
Try new things. Eat something you never have before. Reinvent yourself. This is your chance. Take it.

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Travel Stories – Food: Street Vendors

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Food is a huge topic when traveling, no? It’s an even bigger topic when you’re traveling to what we’d call a developing country.

Let’s address some topics that might be of concern:

Street vendors (and food sold at markets):

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People often warn you, “Don’t eat food from street vendors!” But should you really? Is it really that unsafe?

In my opinion: No.

It can be, sure, but if you pay attention you can very easily find out where it’s safe to eat from and where it is not. Keep your eyes open, and observe closely. Are there other people buying from that vendor? Does it look clean and fresh?
A tip (and this goes for street vendors as well as restaurants): if there are a lot of locals it’s most probably safe and definitely delicious.

My experience was – not only in Thailand but in India and Nepal as well, – that you can find the absolutely best, most delicious and authentic food in tiny roadside restaurants or at street vendors. When I travel with my family, we generally always try to stay clear of typical tourist restaurants. We stumble in the most unlikely places and have the craziest, but most delicious and yummy food you could ever imagine. Plus, it’s much cheaper!

The same thing goes for local markets. You can find amazing fruit, vegetables or pastries there, but rely on your common sense and if you’re unsure about it, then I’d say better safe than sorry.

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Raw food:

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In general there’s this rule you should stick to:

Cook it, peel it or leave it.

That’s it, not much more to say about this one. It’s pretty self explanatory.

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[Photo credit goes (sadly) not to me but to a close family friend. All pictures were taken in 2004 on my first trip to Thailand. We forgot to take our own camera. Stupid, I know.]

DISCLAIMER:

All opinions and recommendations on this blog, but especially concerning these travel stories, are solely based upon my own experiences and in no way imply that anyone else will have a similar experience. All travelers are encouraged to use good sense and to keep their eyes open whenever venturing forth into a new place. Please use your common sense and listen to your own instincts.  Each traveling experience is unique to the person having it and I hope you have many!