These are my best travel tips after traveling around the world for more than 6 years. Over the last few years I’ve been to over 90 countries, all 7 continents, and even lived in countries spanning 5 continents.
I’ve learned a few things along the way.
Traveling around the world has always been a passion of mine.
I remember I would proclaim in college that one day, ONE DAY, I would be day trading and traveling around the world. Everyone would tell me how crazy I was or would just brush me off.
I took a few trips to Iceland and Costa Rica, but it wasn’t until I took an extended 3 week trip to Argentina where I realized the possibility.
After that trip to the bustling city of Buenos Aires, capital of the now bankrupt Argentina, I realized that it was possible. I walked into my Unit Manager’s office after that 3 week stint and told him I was leaving in two weeks.
I finally had an answer to the question I continued to ask myself over the years…..
How to Travel The World?
I registered this WanderingTrader site in May 2010 to chronicle my adventures. I couldn’t be happier as I have been able to travel and feel my own definition of success, freedom. One of the best things I have done is also train others to be able to travel around the world by making a living day trading.
Here are some of the best travel tips I have learned along the way, some personal, some about travel. Share your best travel tips in the comments below!
No Matter the Culture, Age, Background, or Race: We Are All The Same
If there is one thing that I have learned over the years is that no matter what color we are, how different we call the things we eat, where we are located geographically, or how many consonants our language has, at the end of the day we are all the same.
We strive for the same things.
Everyone wants to live their version of success, achieve their dream. Doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, or what we wear, or what we have, at the end of the day we are all human.
It is amazing to think about things this way. At times when we travel around the world we can sometimes see the vastness of our differences but very rarely see how we are all the same. Keep that in mind the next time you get upset over something as small as not being served on time at a restaurant.
I remember when I invited my mother, the Madame WanderingTrader, to India; I would hustle the rickshaw drivers as far down as they would go.
Only to see who was honest and who wasn’t and in turn give them double or triple what the normal fare would be. We all look for the same things in life and in many countries most people can barely afford to feed their families.
We have popularized our hate for the top 1% of society of the United States. Most people don’t realize that Americans and most people in the West are the 1% compared to the rest of the world.
It is the best decision that you will ever make
Was it scary when I first decided to travel the world full time and rely solely on my day trading income? Sure.
Was it a difficult decision to leave everything I knew and go into the depths of things I didn’t know or understand? Yep.
But guess what? I look back at that moment in time when I was sitting in my apartment and that one decision is the best decision I have ever made. Whether you think you can’t afford it or you are afraid to make the plunge, the universe has a funny way of making things happen.
You Learn More From Travel Than Any University or Formal Education
I love to learn but I don’t want to pay $100,000 USD for a University tuition to master information I will never use in my life. My private university tuition cost more than that.
I still have over $20,000 USD in student loans.
I spent 4 years studying business concepts, procedures, and “team building exercises” I will never use in my life. I can guarantee that by traveling continuously for more than just 6 months alone will teach you more real world concepts than anything taught in Universities. Concepts learned by traveling are ones you can benefit from in both your personal and business careers; everything from time management, to being accountable, becoming personable and social, to looking for opportunities.
Don’t Be Afraid To Be Alone
So many people hold themselves back because of this feeling.
If traveling the world means getting away, finding adventure from living a monotonous life at a 9 to 5 job, or if you are trying to find your way in life, the last thing you need to worry about is being alone. There are millions of travelers around the world that are on the same mission as you.
What you don’t know is that locals as well as other travelers have a thirst for meeting people just like you. In fact, that leads me to my next travel tip:
Reach Out To Travel Communities – Forget Travel Companies
The world is becoming social and the sharing economy is rising exponentially; from renting rooms through Airbnb, private drivers with Uber, sleeping on sofas with Couchsurfing, and even microlending to individuals in Africa and Asia. There is absolutely no excuse not to get involved.
Forget buying a Lonely Planet guide book from a person that was contracted to spend 30 days in a country to give you all the information you need.
Reach out to the travel blogger that lives in that country who can escort you to all of the local spots. Meet the foreign don of a city that can show you the ins and outs.
Use Twitter, ask questions, be curious.
You Don’t Have To Be Rich
Technically, you don’t need that much money to travel. The only trade off to this is that the more cheaply you want to travel the more time you will need. Instead of buying expensive flights, hitch hike. Staying at hotel is no longer required since you can sleep on someone’s couch for free.
The only trade off is time.
The more comfortable you want to be the more you can spend. I would rather take a flight than spend 8-10 extra hours on a bus. Flights are also more expensive. Low cost airlines are sprouting up around the world, even Colombia. Do your research and make sure to check all of your options. One doesn’t have to spend a fortune to experience the good things in life.
You Will Need 50% Less Things That You Can Pack
You heard that ladies.
Do your best to save some space and not bring the 50 pairs of shoes you need. Correction, 49 you could do without your 50th favorite pair. When you are traveling around the world the key to the game is simplicity. You don’t need three pieces of luggage nor do you need every single fragment of makeup you have purchased in the last 5 years.
Once you have finished packing get rid of one suitcase and fit everything into a backpack, personal item (gentlemen if you would like to bring a purse that is up to you), and a carry on. Most of the items I travel with now are all electronics.
One pair of shoes, jeans, and sandals, one button up shirt for those fancy evenings, a handful of t-shirts and electronics. I bring more socks and underwear than actual clothes items.
Buy Two Of Everything
Two cables to charge your phone.
Two batteries for your camera.
Even two cameras.
Two condoms guys, you know the quality of things made in China.
I can’t count the number of times I have needed a second item of something. Whether something was accidentally misplaced for a period of time, stolen, got wet and ruined, or I gave a gift to someone, having two of everything saved me more than once on many occasions. Having a backup battery and camera for those moments that you cannot relive is priceless.
Spend the extra money to have a backup for your most important items. You won’t regret it…. guys.
Keep An Open Mind
There is a great world out there and just because things are done differently somewhere else doesn’t mean that they are better or worse. When I lived in Sicily the endless inefficiencies were known as the “charm” of the island. You may have to ride in a rickshaw instead of a large American Chevy Sedan.
Rooms may be smaller, crickets may be fried, customs and mannerisms may be different. Always keep an open mind. Just because something is different doesn’t mean that it is better or worse.
Be Willing To Change Plans
Most of the world isn’t as efficiently planned like most Western societies are used to. Trains and buses leave late (if at all) and one may not be able to find hot water.
When traveling one has to always make sure to create a structure or an idea of what we want to do but don’t plan strict schedules that you have to adhere to.
One of the best travel tips I can give you about traveling around the world is that there are more important things than sight seeing. Feeling a location or getting to know locals can be just as powerful as the pictures you have of exotic beaches and sunsets.
I developed a lot of patience and became even more laid back after traveling for so long. Most times things are not going to go according to plan.
Throw Away Your Guide Books
As I mentioned earlier in the post, most often companies hire travelers for blocks of time to get to know a location. Better information can be had finding local travel bloggers instead of paying for guide books.
I’ve found that many times most guide books just provide the common sense information you need. Many times the information is outdated and incorrect.
By contacting local bloggers one can get a much better sense of what to do in a city. You can avoid common tourist traps and get to know parts of a country and culture that many may not know about.
“Third World Countries” Are Actually Quite Modern
You would be surprised to see the infrastructure, cafes, and vibrant city centers that you may find in many cities. Traveling the world makes you realize that most often many Third World Nations are actually quite modern.
Even here in Medellin, Colombia, where most people think that cocaine and bloody drug wars still exist, there is a peaceful sense of paradise.
One may have to pay a bit more for American amenities but they can be found. Everything from your cereal in the morning to your Frappa-duppa-suppa-caramel-mocha-polka-dot-chino Latte.
Call Mom Especially When Going To Africa Alone
Let’s face it. Your families, especially our moms, worry sick about us. Especially when we go to Africa, the last frontier. In this day in age with messaging apps like Whatsapp and Skype, there is no reason why you can’t keep in touch with Mom and let her know your whereabouts.
Best thing would be to start a blog, then she could at least know your alive and well.
Buy A Little Souvenir From Every Place You Visit
Even if you have to ship small souvenirs home via FedEx you should still get yourself a little something. They say that pictures speak a thousand words. After you finish your travels (most people do) and you assimilate back into what our culture considers “normal society”, those little things are what will remind you of that one time when….
Most countries and/or regions that I have visited I always remember to get a little something to remind me of those times.
Now that I have settled down semi permanently I can’t tell you how nice it is to have those little things that remind me of those trips.
Back Up Everything… OFTEN
You won’t forgive yourself for those priceless memories that can’t be done over. The pictures, videos, and messages, that were lost because of an accident, robbery, or unexpected event can never be recovered.
There are simple online services where we can backup our data.
I keep an extra external back up hard drive with me at all times. I save my data on my laptop, both back up drives, and when I visit the Madame Wandering Trader once a year I back it up on another hard drive. This means I have my data in three separate locations.
I would recommend that you never buy the standard back up drives from Western Digital or any other company that is sold at Best Buy. These are some of the worst drives that money can buy.
Spend an extra buck or two and buy yourself an A-DATA shock resistant and waterproof drive. See on Amazon or their website. Also understand that new SSID (solid state hard drives) are much less likely to crash than common hard drives used today.
SSID drives are very expensive however.
Stop & Double Check Before Leaving Anywhere
When we are in a hurry, flustered, or nervous many times we can forget things. The more common scenario is that we forget.
One of the best travel tips for world travel that takes less than 30 seconds is to stop and double check.
Anytime you exit a taxi take a moment to mentally check where everything should be and check your pockets. Check the seats and look on the floor before you leave. Anytime you leave a hotel as soon as you are ready to leave go back into the room and do a quick check.
Look in the bathroom, shake the sheets, throw them on the floor.
Double checking before I have left a hotel room has saved me from leaving many things, one time it was my passport! Even if you are already late for a flight 30 seconds isn’t going to make a difference.
Have you ever noticed that there are some people that everyone loves and other people that every one hates? Your demeanor has everything to do with how people treat you.
Keeping a smile on your face and an open mind allows you to have an open demeanor.
Having an open demeanor allows you to be open to many things including having a great time. I can’t remember how many times I have been in a situation where I was in such a bad mood. I would organize myself, put a smile on my face, and I ended up having a great time after that.
Make sure to smile often and be ready for anything. People will be more receptive to you if you smile!
Second Reminder To Keep An Open Mind
We all have our preconceived notions about what is right and wrong, how things should be done in public, when and why things should be done.
Understand that when traveling around the world that you are playing by someone else’s rules.
This isn’t America where things are served in 30 seconds. It isn’t Europe where dining is a culinary experience, an event to behold, not just an event to refuel.
By keeping an open mind it will allow you to blend in quicker and enjoy yourself!
Experience Matters More Than Things
While I mentioned a travel tip to buy yourself a little something when you are traveling. I have found that experiences really do mean much more than things.
Material things only go so far.
It is no wonder why Americans have all the material possessions they want but they don’t seem to be the happiest people in the world.
Don’t worry so much about having or buying the best and greatest gadgets. Worry more about feeling a city and its people. You will see the difference when you actually feel a culture.
Force Yourself to Be Uncomfortable
When I first left to travel the world I had to have all of my American conveniences. I was used to my cereal in the morning and Starbucks Lattes.
While I was already pretty laid back, I wasn’t happy if I didn’t have hot water, didn’t eat, or couldn’t sleep.
Over time I became comfortable with skipping breakfast here and there. Especially when it meant missing my flight. I also became comfortable with taking cold showers. Sometimes things just don’t work as well as they should. In many emerging economies that is just the way things work actually.
Just remember that you may not have all of the conveniences you are used to. That may just teach you a few things about being able to adapt and becoming a better person.
Genuinely Try To Help People
If there was one thing I hate about our society today is that we only care about ourselves. Many people ask me why I teach people how to day trade if I can do it on my own and be happy. Truth is I can’t explain the feeling of giving someone else the ability to control their own destiny and have their financial freedom.
When you are in a jam I’m sure you will find many locals that will help you for nothing in return.
If you are able to help anyone; a elderly woman crossing the street, a hungry child that wants a candy bar, helping a local into club with a cover charge, anything.
I don’t give money to the red cross because of the corruption and the fact that the CEO of a non profit makes more money than the United States of America.
I make that up by making sure I genuinely try to help people while I am traveling. Whether that is the person I meet in a third world country or a person I am teaching how to day trade.
Never Stop Learning
The Roman Empire began to decay the moment that they stopped growing. I believe 100% that when we stop learning and growing, that is when we ourselves begin to decay.
It isn’t easy, especially as we get older, but try to never stop learning.
Many people that learn how to travel the world know this and that is why they continue to travel. To continuously explore and learn about our ever changing world. There are amazing things out there to experience and you should never stop learning no matter how tired or old you get.
Get Rid of Your Inhibitions & Just Do It
Traveling the world isn’t the easiest thing in the world. A lot of times there are logistical problems, financial terms to deal with, and the aspect of uncertainty that many people can’t deal with.
Doesn’t matter what it is, how you feel, how afraid you are, or how shy you might be.
The best travel tip I can provide if you want to learn to travel the world is let go of all your inhibitions and go for it.