10 Important things that travel has taught me

1.) Time Management: I´ve learned how to guess what time is by looking at the sun; I figured out flights don´t wait for you if you´re late, and they´re expensive to re-book; and seeing Rome in 3 days is impossible, so save sleep for some other time

2.) Math Skills: different numeric systems and currency values have made me good at calculating exchange rates off the top of my head, as well as translating Celsius to Fahrenheit, kilos to pounds, cm´s to inches, km´s to miles, and using a 24 hour clock instead of this am/pm business.

3.) Lower your hygiene standards – shower less, drink dirty water, eat street food, and poop in poopy holes in the ground. Your immunity just gets stronger, and you´ll realize you’re less susceptible to contagious diseases or an upset stomach.

4.) When your pee smells bad, you’re dehydrated. Drink more dirty water.

5.) Have incredible patience and tolerance for things that, in any other situation, would be crazy and cause for incredible alarm.

6.) Pack less stuff. The more luggage you have, the more your material world starts to weigh down on you, figuratively and literally. You start to realize you have too much, need much less, and that your back freaking hurts.

7.) Leave your guide book at home; you´ll just end up going, eating and staying at the exact same places as every other backpacker does. And, by the time its published, its outdated anyway.

8.) If you´re really brave, leave your map at home too. You´ll realize how strong and reliable your sense of direction has become. Besides, its more fun getting lost in strange places than in a place where you´re supposed to know where you are or where you´re going.

9.) Don´t get stuck behind your camera lens. Its much more impressive to stare at the Pyramids of Giza with your own two eyes than through a viewfinder or 2 inch LCD screen.

10.) You´ll always run out of time and money before you´re ready to go back home, so embrace homesickness as a good sign that you´ve managed to stay traveling long enough not to run out of either, and keep on going til you do!

3 Ways to Get Lost in a Major City

San Fransisco Trolley with the Bay Bridge in the background

San Fransisco Trolley with the Bay Bridge in the background

Whenever I visit great cities, like London or New York, it’s overwhelming how much there is to do and see in one place in too little time. Arriving in east bay California means I’m only 20 minutes away from San Fransisco, a fairly small city (in square km’s), but still offering a lot to explore. I’ve come up with a few little things I like to do (instead of reading guide books and calendars of events) to fill my time.

First, don’t carry any sort of map. Just use your well-travelled self to have a good enough sense of direction to find your way back to where you started. Just make sure you never look too lost, to avoid every nice person coming up to you and asking “are you lost? Can I help you find something?” since, you should have no idea what you’re looking for.

Then, walk in the direction that your senses pull you, and when you get to an intersection, turn in the direction you feel like. Whatever looks prettier, smells yummier, or sounds more interesting, go there. Get off the shopping streets and walk through some neighbourhoods, wander through an industrial area, or even end up in a poorer section of town to see the not-so-touristy picture perfect images of a city.

Finally, try and take a random bus/metro/trolley a few stops in an unkown direction, without asking any questions…try to blend in and act like a local, and get in a little bit of people watching. Just get off when you feel like it, or when most of the other people get off. Just make sure you know how much bus fare is and have exact change, or else everyone will still know you’re that lost tourist 🙂

Basically, try and get totally lost, and along the way, you will discover all sorts of treasures and surprises a lonely planet would have never predicted.