I’ve spent most of my free time over the past few months researching the other side of the world, planning obscure adventures, booking flights, ferries, buses, tuk tuks, AirBnbs, and hostels. But what else can I expect when I decide to take a month long trip to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Bali. (Sidenote, if anyone has any advice on where to go or what to see I’m all ears as you can never have enough information).
I’ve known about this trip for awhile. I gave Adam, my boss, a 15 month heads up telling him I was going to disappear in April of 2017 to “feed my soul.” Afterall, I haven’t left the United States in over a year and a part of me has died in my self-induced captivity.
Those who live to travel will understand exactly what I mean. Don’t get me wrong, I needed a year to refocus and there are worse places to do that than America (Pre-Trump anyway). But for someone who loves exploring, thrives on being uncomfortable, and relishes unpredictability it’s far past time for my next international adventure.
Over the last few months I’ve learned a few things about myself. The first is I’m a pretty good planner (you’re welcome Zoran, Priya, Nick, Jared, Cam, Zoja, and Seif). The second is I know quite a bit about how to travel (thank you three years of being a vagabond). The third is I’ve got a big mouth (less of a realization than it may seem).
Let me clarify. I’m an easily excitable and overly welcoming person. I’ve always thought ‘the more the merrier’ is a swell life philosophy. Which may seem odd given my lack of patience and hatred of babysitting others. Though I see the latter more as an empowerment tool to those in question.
When people ask about my upcoming trip and I enthusiastically tell them about the different countries I’m going to and what I have planned for each. I also have a habit of ending the conversation with “you should totally come.”
My only defense is that I’m going to SE Asia for an entire month and didn’t think people would actually take me up on my offer.
Well, the joke is on me.
What started as a reunion of sorts with my friend Zoran has become a month long trip for six people and multi-week trip for nine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to bring people together. But making sure everyone’s booked everything properly makes for a lot more planning, coordinating, and stress Since Asia is so big and now there are so many of us it makes my normal ‘show up and see what happens’ approach impossible.
Each time I told Zoran someone else was going to join us he’d look at me a little taken aback. He’s the one who’s always inviting more and more people on our adventures while I complain how they’re only going to slow us down. So it was completely justified when he asked me what the hell I was doing. I admitted to him that we’ll be making a sacrifice of sorts, but we’re opening up a whole new world to our friends. From personal experience, I know how one adventure can completely change someone’s life. That opportunity is something I have to encourage regardless of the personal ‘sacrifice’.
Our group has a range of travel experience but this will be Nick’s (my best friend from high school) first trip abroad. I can’t express how excited I am for him to have his first international adventure with us in Asia. To have the courage to say ‘fuck it, I’m in’ and go away for a month for his first trip is impressive. He has no idea what’s about to happen -how traveling changes your life and broadens your perspective. There’s something magical about the first time you truly leave a place. To his credit, he’s excitedly done everything asked of him but hasn’t been able to contribute much to the group.
Nick has zero travel knowledge, he’s actually getting his passport so he can go on our trip. There’s nothing wrong with that, as they say, better late than never. Though we grew up together, he and I have had completely different experiences since graduating high school. He was responsible and hardworking while I was well, let’s be nice and call it adventurous. However, him joining our trip made me realize how much travel information I’ve acquired over the past few years. Details about travel hacking, flying, packing, working on abroad, visas, budgeting, useful apps, and handy websites I completely took for granted before guiding Nick through the process of planning a big trip.
Nick reminded me that most people don’t plan half year or even month long trips. For the majority of people, it’s a week here or a few days there. They go to one city or country, call it good, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Traveling anywhere is better than traveling nowhere.
Planning a trip and traveling abroad can be completely overwhelming if you’ve never done it.
Where do even you start?
How do you make sure you pick the right place, flights, and places to say? Is there a way to not spend your entire life savings on one trip? Is it best to go alone or with friends? Do you need to get vaccinated? Do you need a visa? Do you need travel insurance? What should you bring with you? Is it safe? Do you need a backpack? Will you even want to come back?
The questions go on and on. The honest truth is you can’t know the best way to do something until you’ve done it. Traveling is no different. A lot of it is trial and error. Which is why I’m choosing to share my experiences in this “How To Travel” series. I want to save you time and energy from scouring the internet, to stop you from making a poor decision, and to point out things you’ve never considered because you don’t know what you don’t know.
I understand everyone has different preferences especially. For example, I prefer hostels to AirBnbs, street food to 5* restaurants, and will walk 5 miles if it means I don’t have to pay for an Uber, but I understand that not everyone is the same way.
My goal isn’t to tell you how to travel; that’s something you’ll discover for yourself. It’s to open a whole new way of thinking to you so the next time you go somewhere you’ll be as prepared as you can be.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll publish different blogs in my new ‘How To Travel’ series. A lot of the information will be coming from me directly, but also from others who have traveled even more miles than I have. If you have any questions or topics you’d like to see discussed comment below or email me at ofwhiskeyandword at gmail dot com