Planning Your First World Travel Trip
Always trying to give a starving man a fishing pole rather than a fish we neglected an important part of the process when decloning yourself from the corporate shackles of your day job. We wrote about Quitting Your Day Job To Be Self Employed providing valuable insight on what to expect in your first 90 days off the grid. We failed to mention an important step just prior to that – Traveling The World To Regain Your Mojo!
Our travel editor Rob did just that, quitting an enterprise sales gig at a Fortune 500 company to launch a 385-day, 22-country, backpacking trip around the world. This is a necessary step in your Rugged Male development – Go Somewhere! After being chained to a desk, or shovel, or behind the wheel for over a decade with three weeks vacation, you need to find yourself again. Here is Rob with some things to consider when planning your first world travel trip.
If you are truly rugged, or want to be, you must travel by yourself. You can’t begin to reap the rewards of this journey unless you get out of your own friggin way and see what you are made of. When you travel with your friends, you are limiting yourself to endless amounts of encounters and experiences. Traveling solo is sublime perfection when it comes to reaping all you can from your journey. It will take a couple weeks to find your groove and your travel style, but once you do, its like going through Jim Morrison’s Doors of Perception.
Eat Dinner At The Bar
We already explained the importance of sitting at the bar when you are trying to meet women. The same holds true for traveling solo or within a small group; always sit at the bar when dining out. Utilize the bartenders for local advice, especially if its a cool place with like minded people. Neighborhood folks go to their local restaurant just like you do in your town and will help steer your ship. Travel Tip: It’s also good to have noise reduction headphones in case you encounter a stage-5-clinger looking for a travel partner. Abort! Immediamente!
Be A Man Of The People
People in America not familiar with big cities are often shocked when they see panhandlers. Yes, they can be annoying, but turn that shit around. Engage with these people and allow them to provide priceless tourism knowledge for you, because that’s what they want to do. Play the game – Sorry I’m not interested in your $10 Ray Bans, but tell me, where do the locals eat around here. I once had a shoe-less, homeless guy named George escort me around Stone Town in Zanzibar showing me 7 different hostels before I settled on the right one. As payment I offered to buy him dinner and he took us to a very cool hole-in-the-wall restaurant that ended up being my hang-out for the week. Don’t ignore these resources, be cool and tell them what you are looking for, they are literally dying to help.
Take Public Transportation
I’ve been to thousands of places on earth and without a doubt the old cliché is true, the journey is always better than the destination. The Swiss Alps were some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen. The Pyramids in Egypt were fucking amazing! But the challenges associated with trying to read Arabic to find the correct bus and the exchanges with locals were unforgettable. As I look back I find the little things on my journey significantly more rewarding than the tourist trap that has become many of these international attractions. When I did figure out how to read Arabic and how much to pay the bus driver, it was only 10 cents! Travel Tip: For long bus rides, especially over-nighters in countries with suspect roads, don’t choose a seat over the back tires, you will pop and drop the entire trip.
Consider Hitch Hiking
Always be conscious of the city or town you are in and always play it smart, but some of the best conversations you’ll ever have is when you hitch a ride. I typically did this when I was on a tropical island in a relatively safe place. I once ran into a traveler that called himself Hitch (no joke!). He uses his thumb for all travel and had awesome stories and information to share. Trust is a wonderful thing, and part of your personal journey, be cautious but don’t act in fear.
Every seasoned traveler packs 3X too much on his/her first trip. The Golden Rule of Packing: Pack and unpack 3 times and after each time remove a few items. Here is some strategy on the essentials:
Your Backpack – This is your home, very important to choose wisely. Buy a pack that has two access points to the main compartment; one from the top and one from the side. The Osprey Aether 85KL bag rocks. I found it super durable and just the right size for a year long journey. You can use the lid as a day-pack and be sure to buy a good rain cover.
Noise Reduction Headphones – There’s no better way to block out the annoying, the boring, and the snoring! Bring some good ambien or classical beats that will get you through evening travel.
Camera – I recommend skipping the camera and packing a solid, smartphone, maybe two. If you are into photography, then you know what you are doing. One suggestion is to pack an extra SD Card for when you encounter a traveler with a good DSLR camera. You can put your card in their fancy-ass camera for those money shots.
Shoes – Bring only two pairs of shoes. First, you need high quality, durable flip flops. For my yearlong trip I bought some OluKai sandals for about $100 and wore them everyday on some very nasty terrain. You need something that will hold up, this is not a fashion show. Second, you need durable low-top hiking shoes with rubber soles because you will be on your feet often. These shoes will also serve as your street-hikers and evening shoes. So go buy those dorky North Face shoes with the funny laces that everyone in San Francisco & Portland wear. Remember its not a fashion show. I wore North Face Hedgehog Fastpack shoes. Travel Tip: If your shoes get wet, which they will, stuff them with newspaper overnight to absorb the moisture and the stink.
Pick Up Clothes On The Way
Leave room in your bag to purchase clothes in the country you are visiting. Remember you don’t need clothes to last you for a whole year. You can throw out a ragged shirt and buy a new one after a few months. This is a smart move especially if you’re visiting a colorful place like India. You’ll still look like a tourist, but at least you’ll get props for trying. You will also feel like you are helping someone that truly appreciates you spending your hard earned American dollar. Again, immerse yourself in the journey.
No Tell Motel … Hostel!
I don’t care how old you are or how uncomfortable you are sleeping with strangers, don’t waste your money on sleeping. It’s just a bed. Strategically hang your towel to enable privacy while you sleep. If you plan in advance, most times you can get the coveted single private room in a hostel. This is the best way to meet like-minded travelers. Travel Tip: Since bread is usually the breakfast offering at hostels, pack a jar of Nutella and share with the pretty girl at the end of the table.
Continually Try Something New
The most coveted memories you’ll have, outside of the people you meet, are the experiences you have trying something new. I attempted kite surfing in Tarifa, taught English in Uganda, went deep sea diving in Egypt, and completed a 10-day silent meditation stay in a Buddhist temple in France. Take advantage of your time and opportunity, try new shit!
Keep A Blog
A great way to pass the time on trains or in your sleeping quarters is to keep a blog. It’s also useful for updating your friends and family on your journey without having to read and respond to email. You can upload some key photos which is nice in case you lose your camera or phone. Blogging is easy, it doesn’t have to be fancy, here is the blog I kept and for you millennials, the video I made.
Wing It, Don’t Bring It
For my yearlong trip, I booked a one-way flight to Madrid and one night’s stay at a hostel. That’s all it took for me to start my trip. Yes, I had a sketch of a plan in my head, but no timetable and a complete willingness to let my journey come to me.
There you have it lads, that should be enough to wet your whistle and get you off your arse. Feel free to email me via The Rugged Male if you would like any more information. I’m more than happy to share my experiences.
Thanks For Reading!