9 Tips for your next Trip

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Recently, I’ve been planning a few new adventures to close out the year (hiking in the Grand Tetons and a quick trip to Costa Rica) which got me thinking about my past trips and what they’ve taught me.  It didn’t take long for me to realize there were a few universal lessons I’d learned.  Below you’ll find a list of nine ideas that I learned from traveling but that have transcended my everyday life.

 

This must be the place

“Wherever you are, be all there.”

Most people think I’m crazy when I tell them I love travel days.  For most, those are the worst days of any trip.  For me, sitting on a train or waiting in front of my gate are times I truly feel at peace.  When I’m in those places it’s easy for me to relax because I look around and recognize that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I don’t feel guilty thinking I should be doing something else.  This way of thinking creates a type of presence and freedom allowing me to focus on the moment and enjoy it for what it is. Even when I’m not traveling I always try to be completely present and focused on whatever it is I’m doing.

 

Where not what

“No matter how many plans you make or how much in control you are, life is always winging it.”

I’m a go with the flow kind of guy, but when traveling it’s good to have an idea of where you’re going.  When I plan a trip and have to keep to a timeline I pick the different places I’m going to, but don’t decide what I’ll be doing in each place until I get there.  Yes, you can do some research for general ideas, but I’ve found it’s better to wait until you’re there to pick what activities you’re going to do.  For me, it helps keep some spontaneity in my trip and gives me flexibility once I’m there to learn what my options are.  Which brings me to my next tip…

 

Ask a local

“…because life is too exciting not to share.”

It doesn’t matter how much research you do you’re not going to know about everything ahead of time.  But you know who can help?  The person that lives there.  Whenever I’m traveling I try to ask a local for advice on places to eat and drink, things to do, or places to stay.  People are more than happy to point you in the direction of their favorite hole in the wall bar or the place they discovered with the best calamari.  More often than not, their recommendations aren’t on Yelp’s top places but turn out to be incredible.

 

Traveling is trust

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

I hadn’t really thought about this until I was riding on the back of a scooter, at night in Bali, and was completely separated from my friends.  As all my friends and their scooters went one way and me and mine went another  I realized in that moment that I had decided to completely trust this random Balinese guy.  I was trusting him to not only to get me from one one place to another, but to do so safely-in crazy traffic, reunite me with my friends, and for the agreed upon price.  There were so many things that could have gone wrong.   When you travel, you’re at a disadvantage in some ways, you have to be willing to trust other people to survive.  From my experiences, across the world, I can tell you that trusting is rarely a mistake and people are good.

 

Night Transportation is your best friend

“I will never lose the love for the arriving, but I’m born to leave.”

If you can handle sleeping on trains, buses, and flights traveling at night is as close to teleportation as you’re ever going to get.  Instead of wasting a day going from one place to another, you can go to sleep (something you’d be doing anyway) and wake up at your next destination.  It requires more planning, as you have to make sure you can get where you need to go in the early hours of the morning, but worth it if done right.  We caught three night trains in Vietnam which is what allowed us to see so much in the 8 days we were there.  Besides, you haven’t really experienced a place until you’ve seen it peaceful like it is while everyone else is still sleeping before the chaos of the day begins.

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Take the damn picture

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

I used to worry that taking photos while I traveled made me look like a ‘tourist’ (which is the last thing a traveler wants to be).  I worried even more about how ridiculous my friends and I looked while taking our ridiculous group photos.  I worried the other people around were going to judge us.  Now a days I give zero fucks.  Odds are, I’m never going to see those people again.  What I do care about is having a lifelong reminder of that day and that moment with the people I care about.  On that subject…

 

Capture Moments not Things

“If you want to see what someone values take a look at what they photograph”

Over the past 4 years, I’ve seen lots of places and taken literally thousands of pictures.  Whether it was my time on the cruiseship, backpacking Europe, or traveling around out Southeast Asia one thing proved to be universally true: the photos and memories I cherish most are the ones of my friends and I goofing around.  My house is full of photos from my travels and not one of them is a building or landmark.  Yeah, I’m glad I’ve walked across the Charles Bridge, but my first Prague memories go back to Hostel Orange and the friends I made there. When you think about your trip in retrospect you’ll think of the people more than the places.  My advice, try and capture them the best you can.

 

Give Yourself Time

“To rush is to miss the experience”

You’ll be tempted to go to as many places as possible and fill each minute of every day with activities.  To see everything a place has to offer. Well, guess what, you can’t. Accept it. While it’s important to make sure you see what you want to see it’s equally important to not overdue it.  It’s better to see a few places in depth than to see a dozen barely at all.  Looking back on my trip to Asia I could have happily spent an entire month in any one of those countries.  There were times when I felt like I tried to do too much.  Always on the go to the next activity or city.  I didn’t leave the group as much time as I should have to let each place truly resonate.  Do yourself a favor and give yourself time.  I don’t think you’ll be too upset if that means you have to take a second trip.

 

Explore the Alleyway

“It is not down on any map; true places never are.”

When traveling, I love discovering new, unknown, obscure places.  While some people opt to stick with Tripadvisor or Yelp for research and to validate their choices I go the opposite.  I’m all about walking around a city and seeing where my feet take me.  It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for food, drinks, souvenirs, or a tailored suit in Bali the best places are always down the alleyway you almost didn’t see.  Do yourself a favor and get off the main streets and explore a city’s alleyways. Those alleyways are the places where you truly get to discover a city and all that it has to offer.  

 

The best way to keep up with my adventures is to follow me on Instagram- Todds_Tales.

Stay Gold.

13 Signs That You Were Born To Travel

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Originally published on TraveltheWholeWorld.org
Most of us love to visit new places and try new things from time to time, but some of us were born to travel. Are you one of them? Here, thirteen signs you were born a traveler!
1. You can make friends anywhere, but are just as happy to sit in silence by yourself.

2. You like planning as much as going. Traveling to a new destination isn’t enough; you take planning to a whole new level. You search for the best deals on flights, read hotel reviews, and rearrange your itinerary. And, when you get back from one trip, you delve immediately into the planning stages of the next one.

3. Your dream job has always been a position that allows you to explore the world. Being a writer for a travel magazine, going on treks with National Geographic, or working as an anthropologist are all things you would seriously LOVE to do.

4. You’ve always been good at Tetris, and understand how to translate those skills into a real life packing scenario.

5. You know the word for “Cheers” in seventeen languages.

6. There isn’t a country that isn’t on your bucket list. Who doesn’t want to go to Italy, France, and Ireland? As a born traveler, you dream bigger. Places like Tetepare, the largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific, and croc-infested Cape York Peninsula in Australia make your list.

7. You’ve always loved studying other cultures and landscapes greatly different than your own. Social studies and/or Geography was your favorite subject in school and you can still get totally lost reading travel blogs or in travel memoirs.

8. You would rather spend money on experiences. You drive a 2002 gold Ford Taurus and got your couch from your mother-in-law. So what? That means you’ve got a budget to make the trek to Machu Picchu, learn to tango in Buenos Aires, and participate in a paleontological excavation in Wyoming. Experiences are always better than material things, in your opinion.

9. You consider your medical history full of exotic diseases to be more like a trophy case.

10. While other people seem to hate airports you actually love the experience of flying. You seriously love just sitting in an airport and people watching. Everything from observing the different types of people flying to thinking about why they’re traveling and where they’re going – it’s one of your favorite parts of traveling.

11. You’ve never actually finished a checklist because you can’t stop adding things to it.

12. You’re pretty easy going and don’t let negative experiences get you down. When something bad or weird happens to you on a trip you’re able to shrug it off relatively quickly because you know it will make for a great story to tell your friends and family later on.

13. There’s always another trip. You don’t have a dream trip, you dream of a lifetime of trips. For you, coming back home is just a detour on the way to your next adventure.

6 Valuable Life Lessons You’ll Learn From Traveling

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They say life is like a book and those who don’t travel read only one page. It’s true, there’s much we can learn through traveling around our chaotic world.

 

1. You learn to enjoy different people.

Nothing gets rid of prejudice quite as quickly as travel. It’s actually amazing to travel to different places and see just how much our culture misinforms us about other people.

2. You learn to go with the flow.

In our day to day lives, we can be total control freaks. But when you travel, you’re at the mercy of pretty much everyone else. It really teaches you to let go and go with the flow.

3. You learn to relax.

In the same way that you learn to go with the flow, you also learn to relax. Without feeling like you have to control everything, you go immediately into relaxation mode, which is exactly where you should be when traveling

 

4. You learn respect.

It’s hard to be a jerk to other cultures when you’re hanging out in theirs. People look different, speak different languages, and seem really unfamiliar. It makes you realize how scary it can be to be around radically different people. Gives you a new appreciation for immigrants.

5. You learn to find beauty everywhere.

Day to day life gets dull. You see the same shit everywhere. When you travel, there are so many new things to take in and enjoy. Once you’ve returned home, it’s hard not to see the beauty in so many little things.

6. You learn to love your life.

Because there’s nothing quite better than getting back home to your comfy bed at the end of a long trip.

The Cost of a Month in Southeast Asia

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From a travel standpoint, the questions I get asked most are “What’s your favorite place,” “Where do I should go on my next trip,”  and “how much money do you actually spend on one of your adventures?”  The first question is impossible for me to answer with one place so I cheat and say five.  Places that will always have my heart (in no order):

  1. Prague, Czech Republic
  2. Melbourne, Australia
  3. Sapa, Vietnam
  4. Bali
  5. Port Denarau, Fiji

To answer the second question I’d ask you how much time do you have, what activities do you enjoy, and what’s the purpose of the trip.  Your answers dictate my advice.  If you live in the States and only have 7 days I’m not going to recommend Australia or Asia.  If you hate the beach I’m not going to tell you to go to Hawaii.

The third answer is more straightforward.  At least, for this trip.  Most people want to travel but money seems to be the biggest deterrent.  I decided before I left for a month in Southeast Asia I’d actually keep track of how much the trip cost me.

My past travel experiences have been rather unorthodox.  Working on a cruise ship in Australia, au pairing in the Czech Republic/backpacking Europe, and moving to Melbourne for a year isn’t exactly what most people have in mind when they say they want to travel.  

This was basically the first trip where I had a to book (and pay) for all of my own transportation.  The first trip where I wasn’t planning on earning any money while overseas.  The first trip where I had a concrete date I had to come back.  Odd as it may seem, it really was the first trip where I actually thought about just how much it was going to cost.

I did my best job to keep track of every Dollar, Baht, Rupiah, and Dong that I spent.  However, some purchases inevitably fell through the cracks and to be completely honest, some things I spent money on wouldn’t interest most people.  For example, my ambulance ride, emergency room visit, and 15 stitches in Thailand $104 (reimbursed), the $150  to replace the cell phone I lost at the Full Moon Party (yes, Thailand was rough), the $50 I spent on sandals due to losing 3 different pairs (not my month for keeping track of things), the $350 I spent on 2 custom tailored suits in Bali because every so often you just have to ball out, and while I don’t regret all the cigars, shots, and whiskey waters I had they aren’t essential to a person’s trip. Outside of those things I added everything I found relevant to a month in Southeast Asia in the list below.  

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A few things to keep in mind:

1. I converted everything to USD (you’re welcome)

2. The list below assumes you’ve already have items such as clothes, backpack, shoes,        etc.  For the full list of things, I brought with me check out my ‘What To Pack for Southeast Asia’ post.

3. Southeast Asia is big.  As a group, we agreed early on we wanted to see 4 countries in 4 weeks. We decided that saving time was more important than saving money which is why we took the fastest transportation available when changing locations, even if it cost more.  Yes, you can take a bus from Chiang Mai to Phuket but the fact it takes 24 hours made the price of the 3-hour flight worth it to us.  You have to decide what’s right for your trip, timeline, and budget.

4. I went to Asia with a big group; there were 6-10 of us the entire time.  The prices below are what I personally paid for.  We were able to get some group rate discounts because there were so many of us that you may not be able to find if it’s just you. However, we also had to take multiple tuk-tuks and scooters everywhere so maybe it evens out.

5. Speaking of tuk-tuks, I didn’t keep track of every tuk-tuk, taxi, or rickshaw that we took, every time I ate street food or bought a bottle of water.  I’ve done my best, where needed, to estimate per day what I spent on those types of things.  Also, if you can learn to haggle you’ll save yourself a good bit of money.

6.If you and your friends drink less than mine and avoid sit down restaurants you can reduce the final spend by 15%.  No regrets though.

7.Your trip your rules.  No trip two trips are ever the same but this should give you a general idea of what to budget for a month in Southeast Asia.

8. I broke everything out by category/location, price, and description.

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Pre-Departure Purchases:

Transportation:

Flights:

Kansas City to Los Angeles- $5.00 (purchased with my Southwest points. Flight usually $200)
Los Angeles to Bangkok- $422.00
Chiang Mai to Phuket- $93.44
Surat Thani to Siem Reap- $160.52
Siem Reap to Da Nang- $182.00
Hanoi to Denpasar- $155.05
Denpasar to Melbourne- $277.12
Melbourne to Los Angeles- 70,604 points – $882.56 value (yes, credit cards are awesome)
Los Angeles to Kansas City- $103
Flight Total- $1398.13

 

Ferries:

Krabi to Koh Tao – $32
Koh Tao to Koh Phangan – $15
Koh Phangan to Surat Thani- $20
Ferry Total- $67

 

Train

Bangkok to Chiang Mai $52 (night train)
Hoi An to Dong Hoi- $30
Dong Hoi to Hanoi – $56
Sapa to Hanoi – $45 (night train)
Train Total-  $183

 

Bus

Hanoi to Sapa – $17
Bus Total – $17

Transportation Total: $1665.13

 

Miscellaneous:

Traveler’s Insurance- $145 (Why you should get Travel Insurance)
Passport Photos (4 at Costco)- $10
Vietnam Visa Processing fee- $30
Vaccines (without insurance):
     Hepatitis A- $130
     Typhoid- $88
     Malaria- $79 (used coupon)
Misc Total- $482

 

Thailand (12 Days)

Bangkok

Dinner-   $7
Whisgars Whiskey and Cigar Bar- $42
Tuk Tuk to dinner and train station- $9
Bangkok Total: $58

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Chiang Mai

Counting Sheep Hostel- $16 x 2 nights – $32 (provided breakfast)
Sim Card- $8
Doi Inthanon National Park- $32
Asia Scenic Cooking Class $23.49 (included food)
Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary- $58.74 (included food, can’t recommend enough)
Transportation (tuk tuks/taxis) – $20 (estimate)
Additional Food/Drink/Transportation – $40 (estimate)
Chiang Mai total: $272.23

 

Phuket

Lub’d Hostel $13 x 2 nights – $26
Thai Smile Restaurant – $27 (dinner and multiple rounds of Tom Collins)
Flying Hanuman Zipline- $98
     -Missed out as I was stuck in bed following my ER visit the night before but that’s what it would have cost to go
Bus ride: Phuket to Krabi- $16
Additional Food/Drink/Transportation- $10
Phuket Total: $177

 

Krabi (Railay Beach)

Shuttle from bus station to hostel- $3
Hogwarts Hostel- $8
Tuk Tuk to Ao Nong (there and back)- $3
Speed boat from Ao Nong to Railay Beach (there and back)- $9
Dinner on Railay- $13
Additional Food/Drink/Transportation (estimate) – $10
Krabi Total: $46

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Koh Tao

Goodtimes Beach Hostel: $19 x 2 nights- $38
Airbnb Villa (recovery day) – $32 each
Tequila Shot with Zoran- $6.50
Dinner at Barracuda – $24
Boat to Koh Nang Yuang Island- $9
Entry Fee to Koh Nang Yuang Island- $3
The Gallery (dinner)- $24
⅕ Bottle of Johnnie Walker Red- $10
Living Juice (breakfast)- $8
Bans Resort (lunch- $9
Bans Bar (nightlife) – 10 whiskey waters $24
Additional Food/Drink/Transportation (estimate) – $25
Koh Tao Total: $212.5

 

Koh Phangan

Baan Klong House$20 x 2 nights- $40
Tuk Tuk to Hostel- $3
Sim Card- $15
Bite Delight (Dinner) $25
Tuk Tuk to beach (there and back) $6
Bucket Drink (⅛ Jack, Ginger Ale, Red Bull) – $15
Jungle Party- $17
Ride to Thong Nai Pan Noi (and back) $6
Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach Bar (lunch)-$18
Thai Massage – $12
Tuk Tuk to Full Moon Party (there and back) $6
Full Moon Party Entry Fee- $3
Tuk Tuk to ferry- $3
Water at hostel -$2
Koh Phangan Total: $171

 

Thailand Total: $936.73

 

Cambodia- 3 Days

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Siem Reap

Visa on arrival- $30
Airport Transfer- $4
Mango Rain Hotel- $24 x 2 nights- $48
Lunch at hotel- $8
Floating Village Tour – $25
Ankor Wat Circuit fee- $37
Tuk Tuk for the day- $10
Lunch- $6
Airport Transfer – $4
Cambodia total: $134

 

Vietnam- 9 days

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Hoi An

Visa on arrival – $25
Shuttle from Da Nang to Hoi An- $4
Sunflower Hostel- $8
All you can drink at hostel – $4.50
Dinner- $4.50
Custom shoes – $45 (and 5 free beers)
Pop-up book (souvenir)- $4.50
Lunch- $6
Vacation hat- $4.50
Taxi- $1.50
Half-Day Bike Tour – – $27
     -included drinks and meal
Dinner- $6
Hoi An Total: $140.5

 

Dong Hoi

Taxi from Train Station to Buffalo Hostel- $1
Breakfast- $4
All day Paradise and Dark Cave Tour- $160
     -Included transportation, food, drinks, zip lining, kayaking, etc
Dinner- $3
Taxi from Hostel to Train station- $1
Bottled Waters- $3
Dong Hoi Total: $171

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Sapa

Taxi- Hanoi train station to bus station- $1
Ticket into Sapa Village- $4
3 day 2 night Homestay Trek – $60
     -Included all meals, guide, lodging, rice wine
Bottle of Vodka and ice cream- $11
Cookies and 7 up- $3.5
Souvenirs bought from our guides- $18
Dinner/drinks – $4
Taxi- Sapa to Lo Cio Train Station- $3
Sapa Total: $104.5

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Halong Bay:

Halong Bay 2 day 1 night boat cruise- $60
     -included transportation from Hanoi to Halong Bay, meals, lodging, tour
Taxi- Train Station to hostel- $1
Drinks on cruise- $43
Halong Bay total: $104

 

Hanoi

Nexy Hostel- $11
Hand carved chess set- $20
Landry- $2.25
Dinner- $12
Wine and cigars – $21
Drinks- $8
Taxi to airport- $4.5
Hanoi Total: $78.75

Vietnam Total: $494.25

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Bali- 7 Days

Villa -Airbnb – paid before arrival – $330 (each)
Taxi from airport to villa- $4
Cocktail- $8
Taxi to Sky Bar- $5
Scooter Rental for 7 days- $22
Bali Adventure bike ride- $60
     -included tour, food, drink
Single Fin Beach Club- $29
Santai Surf School- $22
     -included 2 hour lesson, 1 hour board rental
Lunch at Shelter- $9
2 Nusa bowls- $15
Santai Surfing: board rental- $7
Monkey Forest- $3.50
Bananas at Monkey Forest- $3.50
White Water Rafting- $25
Bali Swing- $20
Fake Ray Bans – $3.50
Sunset Artwork- $40
Waterbom Bali Water Park- $75
6 sets of Elephant Pants/tank tops/Souvenirs- $20
Estimate of gas, motorbikes, food, drinks: $200
Bali Total- $571

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Southeast Asia Grand Trip Total: $4283.11

Before I left people would ask how much I expected the trip to cost and I was estimating around $4,000.  Yes, that’s quite a bit of money, but to me, it doesn’t even compare to what I got out of it.  If you decide you want to go somewhere and plan properly you can make it happen.  Which is exactly why I started saving in November of 2015 for this trip. Month long trips across the world don’t happen over night. By saving around $200 a month over the last year and a half I was able to take the trip of a lifetime with my best friends.

Everyone will look at the $4283.11 price tag differently.  Some will think “oh that’s it” while others can’t imagine spending that much money without getting something tangible back.  For those in the latter group, please don’t think that you have to spend thousands of dollars to travel.  I’ve taken trips where not spending money was half my focus; this wasn’t one of them.  While I was conscious of how much I was spending, it wasn’t my goal to pinch pennies.  For me, going out to a nice restaurant with my friends mattered more than saving $10 by eating street food.  That was a choice I made and you can make for yourself when the time comes.

Like anything else in life traveling comes at a cost. Unless you have a trust fund you have to make a choice and for every choice we make we give sacrifice something else.  That’s unavoidable.  The trick is figuring out what you want most and not getting distracted.

Stay focused.  Regardless of what it is, you can’t lose focus on your goal.  On what you’re dream is. Was sticking to my budget easy? Hell no.  Were there times when I wanted to go out and eat or have a few drinks with my friends?  More than I can count.  But I didn’t (well sometimes I did, but a guy can’t always be a shut in).  I knew over the course of the last year and a half that my trip to Asia was going to be worth it.  I made a decision that spending money in bars and restaurants in Kansas City wasn’t worth it to me.  If you really want to travel you have to be willing to make sacrifices, to go without the newest and latest gadget or accessory.  You have to budget and stick with it.  With enough dedication anything is doable.  And here’s a little secret, it’ll be the best thing you ever do.

Stay Gold.

9 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone At Least Once in Your Life

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Traveling alone may be the single best catalyst for personal growth.

My solo traveling experiences have created quantum leaps in various areas of my life. And every person I’ve met who has traveled alone has been among the most interesting and awesome people I’ve encountered.

It may sound paradoxical, but the more you explore the world outside, the more you explore the world within. Solo travel gives you free rein for the exploration of both the external and internal world.

Sure, it can be lonely at times, but you meet a lot of people and get to know yourself when there aren’t familiar faces always around. And yes, it’s hard leaving your friends and family behind for any period of time. But it’s completely worth it and you will come back a better person.

9 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone At Least Once in Your Life

1. Self-sufficiency – You learn to be independent, do things on your own, problem solve for yourself, navigate on your own and become your own best friend. Self-sufficiency is an invaluable byproduct of solo travel.

2. You meet more people – When traveling alone, you’re forced to talk to more people (unless you just want to be by yourself 24/7, which would drive anyone insane). I’ve gone out alone plenty of times and I always end up meeting more people than if I went out with a group of friends. Why? If you go to a bar alone, for example, you’re not just going to stand in the corner by yourself. It forces you to leave your comfort zone and talk to anyone near you (which leads to the next reason).

3. You become a better conversationalist
– Because you meet so many people when traveling alone, you naturally enhance your conversation skills. There is no one else who you can depend on to carry a conversation; it’s all on you. So naturally, you get better at starting conversations and less hesitant about approaching people.

4. You get comfortable being uncomfortable – During solo travel, you’re almost never in your comfort zone. You get used to the excitement, the adventure and the bold decisions. Though you’ll undoubtedly face inner resistance, push through it. This is where the magic happens. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Growth only happens when you push your boundaries. This is a big reason why traveling alone spurs so much personal growth.

5. Flexibility, freedom and spontaneity – You are in complete control of everything you do during solo travel. If you want to do something, there’s no one else to consult with and no consensus to be made. You just do it. Traveling alone gives you ultimate flexibility, a high degree of freedom and the opportunity to be as spontaneous as you wish.

6. You’re able to put yourself first – This is most applicable to highly empathetic individuals, but still applies to everyone. When you travel alone, you have the rare opportunity to do whatever you want, whenever you want and spontaneously follow your own intuitive desires on a whim. It also allows you to work on any personal projects or develop specific skills you desire while traveling. To use myself as an example, I get much more writing and blog work done when traveling alone compared to when I’m with other people.

Traveling solo creates a situation in which you can put yourself first, without worrying about hurting other people’s feelings and having to come to a mutually beneficial consensus about everything. If you’re at all empathetic, you always make sure that people around you are happy. This is good of course, but sometimes you have to put yourself first in order to really know yourself (which is the next point) and evolve. And don’t view it as selfish; when you do the inner work, you actually expand your capacity to give to others.

7. You get to know yourself – When you have to do things on your own and spend time alone, getting to know yourself better is an inevitable side effect. You become more self-aware (in a good way). You become more in tune with your emotions, tendencies, habits, patterns and the deepest aspects of yourself. “Know thyself” was inscribed on The Temple of Apollo at Delphi for a reason. It’s that important.

8. The lone wolf aura – There’s something beautifully enigmatic about someone who’s confident when they’re alone in a new place. I call this “the lone wolf aura.” People are curious and intrigued by someone who is genuinely self-assured. Solo travel cultivates your own unique lone wolf aura.

Read my poem “The Lone Wolf Aura” for a deeper look at this.

9. It’s a pilgrimage – You’re the hero, the star of your own movie. A key component of any hero’s journey is some form of pilgrimage. And it’s always been a crucial step on the path of life for humans.

Jesus apparently went to Asia for many years to hone his spiritual practices. Buddha supposedly ventured into the woods alone and meditated under a tree for a while. Ash Ketchum traversed Canto and Joto to catch ‘em all (I had to drop a Pokemon reference). The hero archetype is brought to fruition by some form of a pilgrimage.

What’s unfortunate about our society today is that there is no real guidance regarding this stuff anymore. There are no rites of passage in the modern world.

But that missing ingredient is why pilgrimages have been making a resurgence in the form of things like backpacking and world travel. People are exploring the world more now than ever before. So this phenomenon is becoming something like a nondenominational pilgrimage. Not subject to any rigid rules of what you should or shouldn’t do. It’s a personal journey. And the details of it are up to you.

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I hope this post inspired you to embark on an adventure of your own. It may take time and effort to line everything up, but it’s totally worth it.

I’m not condemning traveling with others either (I’m doing it right now for this part of my trip). However, I believe that everyone can benefit immensely from solo travel, even if it’s only once in your life. If you feel that inner calling, take heed and make it happen.

It’s all about the journey.

Live each moment to the fullest.

5 Reasons Traveling Will Make You More Successful

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1. People who travel are able to thrive outside of their comfort zone.

This is a basic theme for people who travel a lot. When you leave your home, you leave your entire comfort zone. Once you’ve left that comfort zone, you learn to thrive in situations that you’d otherwise never be exposed to.

In your career, and really in your entire life, being open to big changes can transform your life and help lead you to much bigger things, but you have to know how to accept big changes and learn to thrive in them. Besides, your comfort zone expands and contracts with your bravery. Believe me, it might be scary at first, but your comfort zone will catch up.

2. People who travel learn to manage their emotions.

I’m no stranger to the occasional meltdown in the airport at 2:00AM, but learning to control your emotions, particularly negative ones, is crucial to being a successful traveler. Not only will you meld better with people you aren’t accustomed to, but you have a better time!

That kind of skill can be transferred to your place of work. You’re going to face down some major bumps and hurdles along the path to success, and knowing how to control your emotions will help improve your performance down that path.

3. People who travel manage their fear and get past it.

This ties in a lot to number one. There are scary things that can happen while you’re traveling, especially if you’re very far from home. You could lose your visa, get your wallet stolen, become lost in an unfamiliar city where no one speaks your language, and other scary trials may present themselves.

People who travel learn to face down those fears, get past them, and continue along whatever path they happen to be traveling. This attitude is useful along your path to success too. Changes can be scary, but face it and get past it. You’ll thank yourself later.

4. People who travel can see opportunities where others don’t.

So far we’ve talked about getting out of your comfort zone, controlling your emotions and getting past your fears. We’re starting to see a theme here, aren’t we? In addition to those excellent personality traits, people who travel learn to see opportunity and beauty where other people may not.

People who travel are able to spread their wings as wide as they can and take plunges, caution be damned. And that’s great for your path toward success. The more you see the opportunities around you, the further you can get.

5. Lastly, people who travel can understand the differences between people.

Mark Twain sums it up well: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

When you travel, you experience other people and other cultures. In every sense, it broadens your horizons and makes you more capable of accepting others for who they are. Bigotry and narrow-mindedness in the workplace can be a career-wrecker that prevents you from moving up and may eventually even cost you your job. Losing your job doesn’t do a thing to improve upon your successes, but rather, erases many of them.

Originally published on Travel The Whole World

9 Reasons Why Travelling Makes You Smarter

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Travel is something most all of us want to do, but only a few of us actually do. Resources, time and responsibility keep us from it, but if you learned the multiple benefits of taking a vacation, you might acquire the motivation to find a way to take a trip!

I am positive this list could be longer, but these are the few that I find significant.

1. Activates the Mind
The first time you travel to a new country is when you realize that most of your day to day life is lived on autopilot. The routine of your day you normally do not acknowledge like how you communicate, travel from home to work, get ready for work, cook your food, eat your food and go to the bathroom. I can imagine the shock of using a bidet for the first time and not knowing anything about it. The habits you have become used to that no longer require conscious effort to accomplish are gone. In a new place, your mind must be active and ready to learn much like a kid attending his first day in school.

2. Perspective
Traveling to a new country expands our awareness and introduces us to greater diversity. It’s likely you might help a person pick up their home after a monsoon or help a child fight starvation. There are things happening in the world we can only imagine on our TV screens.

3. Connect to New People
If you are lucky you will meet a few people from different countries who will teach you about their culture. If possible, maybe a few pen pals as well! They can continue to share with you their culture and you can further practice a new language instead of embarrassing yourself at the local Chinese restaurant where you end up talking in a fake Chinese accent thinking they understand you better that way.

4. Slows Us Down
One of the more obvious reasons to travel is to take a break from your life. Working, caring for a family, caring for a home, socializing, and responsibilities – they all contribute to our fast-paced lifestyle. Traveling offers the opportunity to live slowly and in the present. Enjoy yourself! Here you can see the habits in your life for what they are with a priceless clarity. It’s possible you might discover that 4 hours of gaming a day is not really a priority!

5. Learn to Love Life Again

Life can be such a drag sometimes! So many of us are stuck in the work to live lifestyle. Visiting a new country can regain your enthusiasm for life. Enthusiasm, motivation and inspiration is all you need to begin change.

6. Skill Development
Who knew you could climb a mountain – literally and metaphorically. You might have some hidden talents up your sleeve!

7. Curiosity
Traveling is about having adventures and experiencing things for the first time. It awakens you inner child. The part of you that wants to follow the rabbit down the hole and see where you end up.

8. Promotes Understanding
Visiting a new country releases the heavy expectations of the “One Right Way” mentality. When you are the minority in your thinking, it really helps to see that life revolves around patience and understanding. The sister words of love and brother words of wisdom. From here, you can move with the flow of life – organically.

9. Rediscover Yourself
This is the gold! Living away from your routine life and experiencing more can help you to feel your true self. For those of you who believe in karma, the awakening of your conscious mind by discarding habits, negative cycles and lower thought processes, can help us to get on the positive karma accumulation train! Living mindfully creates good karma. That being said, traveling is not necessary to achieve this, but it helps!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Originally published on Travel The Whole World

This is not a beautiful hiking video

 

LAST YEAR, Vienna-based filmmaker Peter H hiked the PCT and produced this incredible of his journey. He focuses in on the parts of long trail hiking most people don’t talk about:  “Blisters, sun, and hunger, were my constant companions,” he narrates. Despite the name, this is indeed a stunningly beautiful and inspirational portrait of long trail hiking

Southeast Asia 2017: Cliff Notes

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I’ve just gotten back to the United States after my month long adventure in Southeast Asia.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about my adventures more in-depth focusing on what I did, why I chose to do it, and what I took away from my trip.  But before I get to all that I thought it would be a good idea to answer the questions I get the most by giving a “Cliff Notes” version of my trip.  Below you’ll find a list of things and experiences that I enjoyed, why, and even a few pictures to give context.

Enjoy!

My Southeast Asia Favorite:

PlaceKoh Tao, Thailand

No explanation needed.

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A view worth the climb

City Chaing Mai, Thailand (though Seminyak Bali is a close second)

Chaing Mai is the type of place you go to in order to really absorb the Thai culture.   It’s over a 100,000 people but it feels a quarter of that size. It’s not known for clubs and partying but is does have amazing cooking classes, elephant sanctuaries, and national parks.  It would be my first choice if I had 12 months to spend in Thailand and could only stay in once city.  It’s a great place to really begin to understand Thailand, the customs, and the culture.

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Patel and her boys land in Chaing Mai


CountryVietnam.

 It’s what I imagine Thailand was 20 years ago before it became so popular with travelers.  Food is delicious, things are cheap, and locals are kind.  Hoi An, Sapa, Halong Bay, Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, and Hanoi are all incredible in their own right and completely different allowing for you to get a real feel for the culture and beauty without having to go too far.

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Vietnam has a habit of making you feel like you’re on top of the world

SnackJ-Bay from Nula Bowl in Seminyak, Bali

What can I say? It’s healthy and delicious.

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Seriously delicious

Drink Homemade Rice Wine in Vietnam

“Mot, hai, ba, YO!!”

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When you’re tour guide is pouring you shots you don’t ask questions

Lost Item– Silk Painting from Vietnam

Though I lost 3 pairs of sandals, my cell phone, a pair of vans, and my Ray Bans, it’s misplacing the silk artwork I bought on our way to Halong Bay that I’m still not quite over.

Restaurant-Bite Delight (Tapas Style Restaurant) Koh Phangan Thailand

Quaint. Intimate (holds maybe 15 people). Amazing food to share and incredible sangria.  It’s a great place to spend time eating, laughing, and just being with the people you care about. Carlos (the owner) will make you feel like family and you won’t want to leave.

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It’s even more adorable on the inside

DayElephant Sanctuary and Bamboo Rafting outside Chaing Mai, Thailand

After waking up at sunrise and riding in the back of a covered pick-up for over an hour into the jungle of Nothern Thailand we arrived at the Elephant Sanctuary.  We started by feeding the 3 elephants, then rolled around in the mud with them, before following them to the river to clean both the elephants and ourselves.  After we cleaned up, we hiked to a secluded lagoon with a waterfall.  After swimming and eating, we walked through the village learning more about the community as a whole which was really humbling. Finally, we arrived at a river and climbed on rafts made of bamboo; rafting down the river controlling the raft with our bamboo sticks trying our best not to fall off (emphasis on trying).  Hard to imagine a better Monday than that.

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Never had more fun getting dirty

NightHalong Bay River Cruise

Honestly, this was one of the hardest questions to answer.  There are plenty of nights that were unforgettable, but my favorite was the night we spent on a houseboat in Halong Bay.  We’d chosen to avoid the cheap, partying, backpackers houseboat because we wanted time to relax.  At least, that was the intention.  Somewhere along the way, that message got lost.  The next thing I know Cam and I are taking tequilla shots with two 67-year-old ladies from Switerzland (S/O to Freeda) and orchestrating the most random and diverse game of Kings Cup I’ve ever played in my life.  Follow that up by trying to squid fish on the back of the boat with Nick and Zoja and you have a night you’ll always remember.

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My one-night boat bar tab.

Activity– Surfing

I love the ocean more than most people.  I’m scuba certified, have worked on a cruise ship, and dream of a living by the beach.  However, with all that I’d still never learned to surf.  But you know what they say, when in Bali…

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Bali seemed like a good place to learn

ExperienceWhite Water Rafting in Ubud, Bali

Let’s be real.  Anything that is a water activity with beautiful Balinese scenery that gets my adrenaline pumping AND has dedicated pit stops for beers was always going to be my one of my favorite things.  It wasn’t even close.  I don’t regret getting out and swimming in the rapids (though once was enough) but I do wish I’d brought my camera.

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The Bintang Boyz.

Tour– Hoi An Cycling- Bike Tour

Biking around Hoi An was simply peaceful and enjoyable.  Hoi An is a really cool city that isn’t overflowing with tourists but has plenty of culture.  The surrounding areas are full of rice fields and farms with bike paths all around.  A few hours cycling through them will erase any worries you may have.  The bike tour also included rice wine, local food, and canoeing down the river at sunset.

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Rice fields and bike rides will cure all ills

Souvenir- Painting from Bali

The one thing I always bring back when I travel is something to hang on my walls.

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got to decorate with something, right?

TuneAlchemy- Willaris K

Can’t not move and groove to it.

Tour GuideRemmy with Hoi An Cycling

Remmy was super personable, loved to sing karaoke as we rode, poured us rice wine shots, and wore my Nebraska flag as a cape.  Needless to say, he won me over pretty quickly.

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Remmy loves Nebraska now

Place we stayedVilla Allamanda, Seminyak Bali

It’d be silly to go to Bali and not stay in a villa…

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Selfie: The Boys and the water buffalo

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Nailed It.

Best of Southeast Asia:

Sunset: Railay Beach, Thailand 

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Not all sunsets are created equal

Best Scenery: Sapa Vietnam

If you would have told me that I’d choose a place in the mountains over a place near the ocean as the place with the best scenery before I left I’d have told you to lay off the rice wine.  But Sapa is incredible.  Located in Northeastern Vietnam near the China border it’s one of the most amazing places I’ve ever had the pleasure of going.  The mountains, rolling rice fields, and abundance of trees make you feel as if you’re on another planet.

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Pictures don’t even do Sapa justice

Nightlife-  Bali.

Whether you want to go to a club, chill by the beach, or drink on a cliff overlooking the ocean- Bali has you covered.  As I like all three of those things it’s my easy choice.

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Single Fin on Sunday is a must

Best Street Food–  Vietnam.  

I could eat Pho and Banh Mi every day forever.

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Pho=Vietnam

Photo of Nick Sleeping

Nick has the “superpower” of being able to sleep anywhere.  It became a bit of a running joke with our group to exploit his power for our amusement.  Cam most of all.

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Kid would sleep through an earthquake

Beach- Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach – Ko Phangan

I may be a bit biased on this because this was the first beach where I could go into the water after my stitches, but it was clean, off the beaten path, and exactly what we were looking for.

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Other:

Place I would liveBali

While I loved Ko Tao and Vietnam I never felt I could live in either place indefinitely. Both had drawbacks to the lifestyle I prefer to live.  Bali, however, hits it on the head. After spending a week there I completely understand why so many people go and never come back.  It has a great blend of Western and Eastern culture. It’s a fairly large island to the point where it doesn’t feel like you’re isolated on an island.  Add in the views, surfing, nightlife, people, the amount of outdoor activities and take my word that coming home was harder than I thought it was going to be.

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Most Pleasant Surprise-  Exploring the Paradise and Dark Cave Phong Nha National Park and Caves, Vietnam

I expected to explore the world’s largest cave- it was on the tour title after all.  However, two things really surprised me.  The first was the Dark Cave.  You’re exploring the cave in complete darkness aside from the headlamp on your head.  Every step is difficult to navigate as the cave is wet and muddy.  You get to slide down mudslides and at one point in the cave, you’re in a pool of water where you quite literally float.  The second thing that really made the experience incredible was the fact that the caves are right next to a lake.  After exploring the caves we spent the afternoon zip lining, kayaking, and swimming.

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Most Underrated Experience that no one talks about– Doing a Homestay in Sapa Vietnam

I had no idea what to expect in Sapa.  My friend Liam told me it was his favorite part of Vietnam and something I had to do.  Which means I had to convince the group to do the homestay and they were wary at best. Best decision I made on the trip.  We spent our 3 days hiking in the Himalayas Mountains.  Our nights around a table eating, drinking rice wine (and vodka), and spending time together.  The village doesn’t have any nightlife and barely has electricity.  It was a great 3 days of disconnecting from the world and enjoying the company of close friends.

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The Fellowship preparing for our journey

Once was enough– Floating Village, outside Seim Reap, Cambodia

We bussed an hour away from our hostel in Seim Reap to check out one of the floating villages of Cambodia.  While it was a cool experience I don’t see the need to go back and do it again.

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Scariest Moment– 4 A.M. ambulance ride in Phuket, Thailand 

Though crashing a scooter and almost drowning in Bali are up there.  The ambulance ride followed by spending over an hour in a Phuket Emergency Room at 4 am getting 15 stitches in my leg has to be the winner.  But what’s a trip without a few scars.

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Real friends come to the ER with you at 4 am.

Tourist Guilt “Had to”Angkor Wat, Seim Reap, Cambodia

Don’t get me wrong, it’s something everyone should see at least once in their life.   However, this was the only thing on the entire trip I felt obligated to see.  We went to Cambodia for 3 days literally just to make sure we saw Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples.  Huge and humbling the Angkor Wat compound was completely worth it.  Though I’d be lying if I said I preferred Angkor Wat to Ta Prohm.

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Unique Experience- Asia Scenic Cooking Class,  Chaing Mai, Thailand

My traveling goal going forward is to bring something back from my travels that enhances my life.  Learning to cook something new fits the bill.  Apart from learning something new, the cooking class we took was an absolute blast.  Learning how to make authentic Thai food while in Thailand was definitely a unique experience.

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Spontaneous Decision- Bali Swing- Ubud, Bali

After we finished white water rafting I saw a sign saying “Bali Swing” this way,  I explained to the group that I’d seen something like it on Instagram (looked amazing) and since we were right there we should check it out.  With no background on if it was even the same thing, we headed straight there.  So glad we did.  Check out the video on Instagram.

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Ballin’ Out Moment- Getting custom suits tailored in Bali

Yeah, I’ve got a suit guy.

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Ballin’ out in Bali

Conversation- Seif explaining the Middle East to Nick (and myself)

One of my favorite things about traveling is getting to talk to people from outside the Midwest and outside of the United States.  Getting to hear their views on everything from life, to religion, and especially politics (American and World). My friend Seif was born in Egpyt and now lives in London.  After most of our friends went to bed in Sapa, he stayed up with Nick and I for hours explaining the different dynamics at play in that area of the world.  He answered question after question with complete honesty.  Not trying to make anyone good or bad just presented the facts as he knew them.  Anytime you can have a conversation with someone who has direct experience with something your best bet is to shut up, listen, and take it in.

Most Overrated- Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan, Thailand 

I enjoy it.  But this was as close to college spring break as we got on the trip.  I love Thai buckets and a good beach party as much as the next person, but to be honest I enjoyed the jungle party the night before more.  If you’re in Thailand it’s definitely something you should check out, but just expect PCB or South Padre in Asia with buckets.

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Reppin’ of Nebraska- Outside Hoi An, Vietnam

Water buffalo+Rice fields+Flag= Trifecta

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Random Discovery- LOVE sign- Koh Phangan, Thailand

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