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This Is How Much Money I Wasted During My Trip Around The World

This Is How Much Money I Wasted During My Trip Around The World

You would think that after almost a decade of travels, I would be a travel pro.

I’m no amateur, but I wouldn’t consider myself a master in the art either. I still make costly mistakes.

Stupid ones.

I recently went on a 20-month long trip around the world to every continent and made a ton of mistakes regarding expenses. I do learn from my mishaps, but then I go ahead and make new unforeseen ones. It’s like a never-ending cycle. I also learned a lot of neat ways to save money during these adventures that I will highlight on a future post.

Always remember this: There is no such thing as a perfect way to travel adventurously around the world. That’s what makes it an adventure.

With that said, during my recent trip I jotted down all of the costly mistakes I made while traveling along with tips on how I could have prevented it. I hope my blunders set an example of budget mistakes you can avoid on your next adventure.


Missed my flight from Dubai to Tajikistan because I didn’t have a visa. -$400

United Emirate Airlines wouldn’t let me board my flight to Tajikistan because I didn’t apply for a proper visa to enter the country. I guess I missed the part about having to apply for a visa in advance. Whoops.

This almost happened again for my Brazil tourist visa. Thankfully, there was a Brazilian embassy in Cape Town, where I was situated at the time. Dodged that bullet!

Always, always remember to check the visa conditions for a country far in advance. In Tajikistan’s case, US citizens need to apply for one in advance and pick it up at the airport.


Went to the wrong bus station by accident in Germany. -$25

I needed to get to Cologne, but I went to the wrong freaking bus station. You should have seen me wandering around trying to find my bus that didn’t exist. I later checked the reservation email on my phone and found the address to the correct bus station listed at the bottom of the email.

I had to catch a more expensive train to another bus station, to catch the connecting bus I already booked prior.

Do read your email reservations carefully. Many travel reservations will have the direct address of where you need to be.


Ignored flight alert from South Africa Airways. -$340

This was pure procrastination on my part. While walking across Spain, I received an email alert from South Africa Airways that my credit card didn’t go through for my flight to Johannesburg in a few months and that I needed to contact them soon. I ignored it, thinking I would get to it later. Well, I ignored it for too long!

When I later tried to rebook the flight, my original departure was filled up. Thus, I had to book a new, more expensive ticket on an earlier date than I planned for.

Don’t put things like this off or it may deter your travels. If you get an alert from an airline saying to contact them immediately, then do it immediately!

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This is me kissing my hard-earned cash goodbye!


Took an Uber to the wrong terminal in Mumbai. -$10

This is another example of not carefully reading my email reservations. It clearly stated to go to Terminal A on the bottom of the ticket. I didn’t see it until my driver dropped me of at Terminal B and I was wondering why I couldn’t find my airline. No problem. I ‘ll just walk to Terminal A.

Sounds simple enough if Terminal A wasn’t all the way on the other freakin’ side of the giant airport. I had to catch a taxi to get there.

Another case of reading your email reservations carefully. For flight reservations, check and see if there is any text imprint about which terminal you should depart from.


Accidentally stuck the wrong Aussie note into a ticket machine. -$30

I just landed in Melbourne from Tasmania. I needed to catch a train into the city. I went to the ticket machine to load up my Myki card (the cards locals use to get around on public transportation) and instead of putting in a smaller note, I accidentally stuck in a $50 note and I couldn’t get it back! There was no way I was going to be using this card all that much unfortunately. I used only about $20 of it. I gave my Myki card away to a backpacker I met in India who was on his way to Melbourne.

This I could have EASILY avoided if I just paid attention to what the heck I was doing. To be fair, it was an Australian note, which I wasn’t used to. Not a great excuse, I know.

Familiarize yourself with foreign currency. It can be confusing.


I have cheap friends. -$30

During my birthday in Nepal, my friends were so broke that I bought THEM drinks.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t want to be the only drunk one…That’s just no fun.

Don’t have cheap friends.


Dropped new iPhone into ugly water in Fiji. -$1,100

This was my biggest budget blunder I made during my trip and it happened fairly early into it.

I had my new iPhone I just bought a few months ago slung around my neck in a waterproof shell. I stood on the top of a cliff on a gloomy day, ready to rope swing into a pond of poopy looking water. I knew darn well that the day was unfit for recording any awesome footage, but so I went anyway. I rope-swung into the poop water and as I fell in the air, my iPhone came loose around my neck and landed into the water as I plunged into it. I quickly surfaced to try to retrieve it, but the water was so brown and 15 meters deep. I couldn’t see nor even attempt to get it.

It was still early into my trip. I needed to have a phone and more importantly, I needed my music. I had to buy a new iPhone in Suva, Fiji’s capital which costed me way more than it did at home in the States.

I still kick myself for that one.

Don’t be a dingus like I was. Sometimes it’s not worth risking your expensive gadgets. Think about it first. I knew perfectly well that there was no need to have my phone with me that day. My gut told me to leave it behind, but no. I just had to show off.


Wasted Airbnb’s in South Africa. -$300

I left too much in the hands in one my travel buddies. I left it to him to book our Airbnb’s in South Africa and boy did he splurge. The accommodation’s looked stunning…but perhaps too stunning and way too big for just three of us. I knew this from the get go. We would spend most of the time out and about and wouldn’t be able to properly utilize our accommodations. Now if it were a larger group of us to split the costs, then yes, I’d be all for it. The other third traveler in this group and I were fine with being in hostels, which turned out to be a lot more fun.

To be fair, my friend did ask us for our permission and thoughts before he booked them. My gut was telling me to say no because it would be pointless, but I let it be. My own fault for not speaking up.

His budget was only for South Africa. My budget was for the whole world.

If someone in your travel group is being too extra and wants you to be extra too, then let them know because we all have different budgets.

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There’s no doubt this pricey place was amazing. But we were barely there and it was way too big for just three people.


Bought wrong type of visa in Zambia and Zimbabwe. -$30

Victoria Falls is claimed by both Zambia and Zimbabwe in Africa. A buddy and I went to Zimbabwe to visit the falls, not realizing that the fun part of the falls was on the Zambia side. By fun part, I mean swimming in a pool on the edge of the waterfall. We couldn’t miss this so we repaid for another visa to get us back into Zambia and then back to Zimbabwe. Then we had to cross back into Zambia the next day to catch a flight. I never crossed a border so much in such a short amount of time.

Once again, pay attention to visa requirements and also do your research when booking excursions on your own. Being that Victoria Falls was in both countries, we should have checked which side had access to the pools.


 

Total Amount Wasted (in USD) = Approximately $2,265+

Ouch.

I put the “+” because I’ve made a ton of smaller scale mistakes, among these bigger budget blunders. Like accidentally using my non-travel credit card on a foreign purchase resulting in foreign transaction fees, getting ripped off while bargaining, etc.

Heed my advice and avoid my mistakes well for your own adventures! If you made any costly blunders on your own and would like to share, then please do!


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9 Really Dumb Things I Used To Do During My Travels That I Don’t Do Anymore

I’ve been traveling on a large-scale around the world for the last decade or so. With that, I’ve made plenty of dimwitted mistakes and committed piles of ignorant acts back in my earlier days of exploration. Looking back now—things that make me cringe!

Don’t do what I did.


1. Touch The Boobs

I was persuaded to go to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Bangkok with a couple other backpackers. I didn’t want to because I thought it would be boring, but they kept on insisting. So to make it entertaining for myself, I thought it would be hilarious to fondle many of the wax celebrities and peek underneath their clothes, much to the horror of all the other museum patrons. I was so annoying.

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2.   Climbing Sacred Religious Monuments

I had (and still do have) an urge to climb things that aren’t meant to be climbed on. So when we went to a religious Buddhist park in Laos, I couldn’t resist the itch to climb on all the statues. Even worse, there were monks around praying while I acted like a damn monkey climbing all over the park. The photos I got were amazing, but looking back on it…I was such a dick.

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3.  Run From The Law

Speaking of Laos, it was there where I also ran from the cops to escape a ticket. While riding a motorbike for the first time in my life, I accidentally drove past a red traffic light. An officer on the side of the road (who was on foot) whistled for me to pull over, and so I complied. He asked me a bunch of questions in broken English, in which I pretended I couldn’t understand him. He then asked me to wait a moment. When he went into his office several meters away to get some information, I took off at the speed of light to avoid the ticket. I could have gotten in some SERIOUS trouble if I were caught.

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4.  Hike a Mountain With A Flu

Kilimanjaro was (and is still) the most formidable hike I’ve ever endured in my life! I began the trek with a godawful flu. The hike cost around $1,200, so flu or no flu, I hiked it to get my nonrefundable money’s worth. I was challenging death during summit day. I fainted, passed out, nearly froze to death, and had to be given oxygen from an emergency tank…but I made it! However, it’s a risk I won’t tempt ever again.

5. Jump Into a Tidal Pool of Ferocious Water

Another dumb thing that nearly killed me. I led a group of clueless volunteers to a destination I dubbed as “The Rock”; a gigantic towering boulder about a mile down the Pacific side of Costa Rica’s western coastline. As we trekked, we came across a giant pool of water, with angry waves pummeling against an enormous rock wall. Stupid, dumb me thought that if we swam against the wall, then the waves can’t possibly slam us into said wall. The others told me not to but I didn’t listen. Confident, I jumped in any way and immediately was sucked out into the water and picked up by an oncoming wave, repeatedly slamming my back against the wall! Stupid, dumb me also had a tendency to overpack, so thank goodness that my backpack I was wearing absorbed most of the impact. Also, thank goodness there was a professional rock climber among the volunteers who were able to miraculously grab me and save my life.

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6.  Prebook Random Flights Because It Sounds Like A Good Idea

While at home in Michigan, I had an upcoming three-month long trip all over Africa. I thought that I would break up my Africa trip by booking a flight to Paris for a few days and then return to where I left off. When it came the time in Tanzania to fly to Paris, I couldn’t be bothered with another long plane journey to an expensive city for four days by myself, only to return right back in Tanzania again. So I simply skipped the flight and my hotel in France. That was $1000 I’ll never get back, right down the drain of stupidity.

7. Video Record the Women in the Red Light District

Stupid, naive me thought the Red Light District in Amsterdam was famous because of its cool red lights everywhere, not because of the prostitution and sex-oriented businesses that infamously ran rampant there. So as I strolled through, I had my phone on record, documenting everything I saw, including all of the scantily clad women in the glass windows offering a peep show. So you can understand why I was startled when one of the women suddenly popped out of the window and ordered her security to retrieve my phone. He couldn’t catch me and I still have my video. Won’t try that again though, now that I know what the red lights really mean…

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8. Flash My Stuff Around An African Shanty Town

I already knew better than to do this. I was volunteering at a school in a township in South Africa for a while. I left the school early one day and walked back to my homestay. I felt comfortable enough in the township to listen to my iPod on the way. Minutes later, two lanky, scraggly men approached me and tried to take my iPod from me. I was prepared to fight (they had no visible weapons) and I felt I could take them on. And so, they backed off once they saw that I stood my ground. I got off lucky, but I never flashed any fancy object in any poor township ever again after that.

9. Put My Valuables Underneath a Bus In a Developing Country

This is another instance where I felt “invincible” in a foreign country. While traveling all over Vietnam by bus, I normally kept my carry on bag with my valuables on my person. Well, one day I decided “screw it” and placed my carry-on bag in the undertow of the bus. Later, I discovered my iPhone was missing. I thought I just misplaced it, until I discovered photos on my iPad that were newly synced from my missing phone. Selfies of that dirty bus driver, who obviously swiped my phone from my bag. There was no way of getting it back, as I was long gone in another country. No one to blame but myself…

I tried to find a tenth dumb thing to end this list on a nice, even number, but I couldn’t think of anything substantial. I’m sure I’m guilty of plenty more dumb travel related things…just as you probably are too!

What stupid things have you done on your travels? I wanna know!

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The Secrets To How I Traveled Western Europe on The Cheap

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I had two equally important advantages on my side: extraordinary friends and disposable time.


 

The strategy was to hold off a few years before I traveled through Western Europe.

At least until I saw less developed parts of the world first. Backpacking through much cheaper countries, like the bulk of Southeast Asia for example, awarded me the experience I needed and more importantly the lasting friendships I made with fellow travelers I met mostly in hostels.

Most of the travelers I met were European (or Australian) which as an American, was in my favor. These European backpackers I met became natural companions of mine who I keep in touch with to this day. Social media works wonders for keeping the world connected. As a matter of fact, if I didn’t travel, I more than likely wouldn’t have a Facebook account. It was travelers I met in Costa Rica that suggested that I make one to keep in touch with them. I reluctantly created an account right in front of them. My very first profile picture is a photo of me buried underneath the sand at the beach in San Miguel, Costa Rica.

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Backpacking isn’t the only way I met all of these Europeans. Most of the ones I met have come through volunteering.

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Myself, along with most of those other backpackers and volunteers possess what some in the globetrotting fold call a travel mentality. We are all used to meeting all sorts of people from all over the world in the strangest of places. It’s fairly common that if any of those people popped up in each other’s neck of the woods, we would more than likely offer a hand to show them around and even invite them into our world without question.

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When I felt the time was right to backpack Western Europe for three months, I let many of them know I was coming and most, if not all of them gladly welcomed me into their abode, hence I got a variety of authentic European lifestyles outside of the world of hostels, hotels, and tour packages. There were some who were so busy with real life, but still made an effort to meet up for a bit to reminisce and share stories.

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During that three month trip, I’ve visited Iceland, The Netherlands, Ireland, England, France, Belgium, Germany, and Austria and I only stayed in two hostels, for one night each during that entire stint! One was in Amsterdam when a Dutch friend of mine and I decided to explore Amsterdam for a day or two off the whim. The other was in Belgium when my buddies in Groningen (northern Holland) wanted to show me a little of Antwerpen.

It was especially convenient during Oktoberfest. I just so happened to have two friends who lived within walking distance of the festivities. One of them even had an extra Lederhosen for me to wear. If I’d done what traditional tourists do, staying in hotels/Airbnb’s and renting/buying the costumes, it would have cost me a fortune!

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As for me of course, I pay it forward when foreign friends decide to visit and stay with me at my home. I always look forward to showing them Detroit’s legendary eateries, some hot spots here and there, and time permitting, a trip to Cedar Point amusement park, the roller coaster capital of the world that I’m lucky enough to live near. Plus, my friends back home LOVE meeting my foreign friends. They dig the accents.

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So the accommodation was practically pennies, but what about actually traveling around Europe? Doesn’t that put a dent in the budget?

Traveling, especially flying, can be costly and sometimes it’s unavoidable, but I had the luxury of time on my side.

I gave myself three months to travel around Western Europe, but I also kept my agenda open. I only knew where I would begin, The Netherlands, based on prior arrangements I made with friends who lived in a small town there called Ede. From there, I didn’t really know who I would see next or where I would go next. Since I had the time, I found Flixbus and Ryanair Airlines to be my go-to’s for getting around. Ryanair is stupidly cheap and often post last minute deals which I took fair advantage of. The buses generally take longer to get to places but they are also an affordable means of getting around if you have the time, in which I did.

Because I gave myself plenty of time, I bused all over Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, and England with no stress.

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In addition to the buses, Germany is where I discovered something called Blablacar. It’s basically a carpooling service handled online. It goes like this. If I were driving from New York to Chicago on a certain date, and had extra room in my car, I would post my upcoming trip on the Blablacar website and offer a ride for anyone it would convenience, for a fee of course. The fee is usually much cheaper than trains or buses in some cases. It’s like a premium version of hitchhiking! Unfortunately, its only available in Europe as of now. I used that a few times in Austria and Germany as well.

I flew cheap tickets to Ireland and back to Germany. If I was on a clocked limit, certainly I would have flown more often to save time, which equates to more money spent.

How much did I spend?

For three months, without a solid plan, lots of time, and an abundance of incredible European friends, I spent just under $4000 USD. I would say most of it was spent on booze and food. Everyone I visited wanted to go out and celebrate our reunion, which was always fine by me. Plus, I did everything I wanted to do. I wasn’t on a complete shoestring, but I was mindful. I splurged every now and then on stupid (but fun!) things. I also didn’t buy any souvenirs.

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Hmm, what else?

That euro trip I took was three years ago (2014). I’ve learned quite a bit since then, which in turn would have saved me even more dough if I traveled with the credit and atm cards I have now (travel perks, air miles, no foreign transaction fees and less atm transaction costs!). And now with services like Uber more available than ever, I could have saved on those ridiculous taxi fares in certain cities. Another thing–I did not book a single one of those ridiculously expensive packaged tours where you go to a city for one or two days before you have to move on and zip through the rest of Europe without soaking it all in with a large group. My friends there were the best tour guides I could have asked for.

To sum it all up!

Get your feet wet and travel around much cheaper (and more adventurous) places first like Southeast Asia and Central America (they are stupid cheap), gain some useful travel experience, make some awesome friends (I guarantee you’ll meet a ton of European and Australian travelers), create the time, don’t plan too much ahead, and bada bing bada boom, your western European galavanting has suddenly become that much more of a reality, as opposed to some farfetched dream!

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-Any questions? Feel free to ask me- 🙂

-Daniel Adventure Born-

My Top 10 Weaknesses While Traveling & How To Conquer Them

My personal struggles while traversing the world, in no particular order…

1. I’m ALWAYS Hungry

IMG_9366First and foremost, I’m always hungry in general. I just like to eat all the food. However, the urge to eat increases tenfold whenever I’m outside of the States. But why? What is it about traveling that leaves me hungrier and overtime…h-angrier. I’m always on the lookout for some grub and therefore more money I have to fork over. Being from the USA with our entirely unnecessary portion sizes and unlimited free coke refills is part of the problem.

How to conquer: I found that my appetite adjusts to smaller portions over a long period of time, but it takes way too long to get used to. I think the trick to this is drinking lots of water after a meal to feel fuller. Cold water curbs appetites and will also keep me hydrated too.

2. McDonald’s is My Guilty Pleasure

McDonalds' in PeruI don’t care what anyone says, McDonald’s has the most perfect fries on Earth. Throw in a classic Big Mac and an Oreo McFlurry and I’ve got myself a meal! McDonald’s is the fast food of all fast food chains that you can find in many parts of the world in the most convenient, cleverly placed locations. I love it so much but I do feel guilty whenever I am in a foreign McDonald’s, when I know I should be exploring and tasting new and different foods. It’s just that sometimes, I’m not in the mood to test my luck and with McDonald’s always nearby, I always know what I’m going to get. It’s just so damn convenient…and complete utter crap for you.

How to conquer: I’m going to force myself to try new cuisine and test out the local restaurants and eateries of whatever country I’m in. Mickey D’s (or Macca’s for you Australian readers) once in awhile is okay and especially suitable after a long night out when I have the munchies and nothing else is open. I also enjoy seeing what other foreign McDonald’s has that’s different from U.S. ones. This is going to be a hard habit to break.

P.S. I can never find a McGriddle ANYWHERE else besides in the USA. Get on it McDonald’s!

3. Fish Are Ugly

20130617-062454.jpgAs a toddler, when I found out those delicious tuna fish sandwiches my grandma gave me for lunch every other day was ACTUAL TUNA FISH, I just about lost it. How dare she? I never liked seafood since that fateful day and never gave it a fair shot until recently. I would always make it known so no one would dare try to serve me anything that came out of the sea. Fish are ugly creatures. Shrimp are ugly too. So are crabs and lobsters and mussels and all of that! I can’t be eating those. I’ve been to many seafaring countries where seafood dominates the local delicacies, but I would always opt out and try other things…like a cheese burger or pizza. Shame on me because I’ve been told that I’m really missing out on some high quality nourishment.

How to conquer:  Fortunately for my particular case, it’s mostly mental and has little to do with taste. I have been getting better with trying seafood as of late though. I love calamari now…as long as it’s heavily breaded and absolutely no tentacles! I’ve tried crab cakes and fried fish sandwiches which weren’t half bad. I think as long as it’s not in the shape of the animal that many countries serve it as, then I’ll be okay. I vow from here on to experiment and taste as many different types of fish and other seafood as I can muster. Baby steps.

4. Drunk Spender

IMG_2648If you ask my friends at home, they’d tell you that I don’t drink very often. But whenever I’m traveling, I have no car to drive and no job to report to in the morning (unless I’m teaching), so let’s go nuts! Whenever I’m out having a good time and start feeling the drinks, I usually get a little too generous and start treating my traveling comrades to rounds on rounds on rounds. The results? A freakin’ awesome night, but a sad empty wallet the next morning.

How to conquer: Only bring a small amount of money with me and leave the rest hidden at my accommodation. But what if I need my cards for emergencies? Well, that’s going to take some self control on my part. Tell a buddy to help keep you in check and you can do the same for them. But wait! In Belgium when I went on a bar crawl with some friends, I always chose the beer with the highest alcoholic content. After just a couple, I was feeling good and didn’t feel the need to keep drinking to keep the buzz going. We also all had a system. At each bar we went to, we took turns buying rounds which worked out great.

5. The Altitude Hates Me

20120801-113234.jpgI never knew altitude sickness was a thing until I was in Peru. Incredibly naive at the time, I sprinted to the top of Machu Picchu and did it without any water in my possession. I started to feel weird, like something horrible was about to happen to me. My first case of the altitude. My next and most horrible case ever was during a hike on Mount Kilimanjaro, when I suffered from altitude sickness during summit day. I felt it again next during a hike on Guatemala up one of their many volcanoes. I love the hikes but am forever fearful of the altitude getting to me. What baffles me the most is that people who aren’t as fit as I am didn’t have as much trouble as I did.

How to conquer: Before Kilimanjaro, I did some hefty research on ways to avoid altitude sickness. The bottom line is that the altitude affects everyone differently, know matter how fit they may be. There are ways to help prevent and manage it though. Taking it slow and letting your body adjust to high altitudes, drinking plenty of water, and rest often. There are also tablets such as acetazolamide medication to prevent and reduce the symptoms. Aspirin also works for a quick fix. As for my suffering on Kilimanjaro, my best advice is to trust your gut and listen to your body. As horrible as I felt, my mental state allowed me to continue to the end but if I had to stop then I would have stopped for good and turned around. You know your physical limits better than anyone else.

6. Motion Sickness

20120802-125211.jpgBy far my biggest hindrance while traveling…or my whole life in general. I haven’t found the proper way to battle this and I’ve tried almost everything. I’ve used Dramamine and other similar motion tablets numerous times and they do work, but they knock me out almost instantly. I still feel bad for my poor European and Costa Rican friends who drove me to amazing places, only to have me sleeping the entire way. I make for a lousy passenger and I usually feel groggier than shit when I do wake up. Don’t get me started with boats; they are the worst offender.

How to conquer: After scouring the internet and Amazon.com, I found tablets which are natural with no sleepy side effects. I bought 200 of those bad boys so hopefully they’ll do the trick without making me tired. I also found that ginger has natural properties to help soothe stomach nausea. I’ll have to find some candy versions. Also on a recent trip to Wales, Lucy drove me everywhere and I didn’t use any tablets. I made an effort to not look out the side window and look solely out the front. Unless I can train my body to cope (is that even possible?), these sleepless tablets will have to do.

7. Being Part of Large Tourist Groups

10372848_10204079240967467_2550388673300259244_oMy God, I HATE being stuck in tourist groups, especially ones with lots of fanny packs and little kids. Get. Me. Out! I once abandoned an insanely slow group in Machu Picchu and did my own thing exploring and taking neat photos which was way more enjoyable. Granted I didn’t really learn anything while I was there, but that’s what Wikipedia is for later. I try not to do touristy group things but sometimes it’s unavoidable. If I can just run and explore freely on my own (in a respectable manner of course) my world would be a much better place.

How to conquer: I wouldn’t recommend ditching groups because you won’t really learn much and it looks kinda bad on your part. Plus, sometimes the groups can be cool and if you have a really super guide, they can turn a boring tour into an interesting one. If you have the time, DO make friends with the locals. They can show you things most tour groups can’t.

8. Orca Whales

I’m not afraid of many things, but few know that I’m terribly afraid of whales; specifically killer mother effin’ orca whales. The way they’re designed, everything about them screams deadly.  Like a giant torpedo, a sleek black and white jet with a giant sharp pointy dorsal fin sticking out of the water coming right at you! As a kid, I always thought those giant white spots were it’s eyes. Those blank…sinister eyes like a monster. I can’t explain it. They are simply terrifying and thankfully I haven’t come across a wild one yet, but I dread the day.

How to conquer: As much as orcas terrify me, they also fascinate me at the same time. I have a strong hunch I’ll be dealing with orcas on the Antarctica leg of an upcoming trip. Learning more about them could curb my fear. Like how I recently discovered that there hasn’t been a single fatality from a wild orca whale on a human in recorded history. I may just become an expert on orcas in just a matter of time.

9. Cold.

I’m the guy that takes 20 minutes to fully get into the water because cold. I’m also that guy who travels avoiding the winter season wherever I go because cold. Screw the cold! The freezing temperatures makes me want to nap under a hundred blankets near a fireplace and not wake up until the sun comes back. I nearly froze to death from wanting to fall asleep on top of frigid cold Kilimanjaro. Thankfully my friends were there to keep me going. I’ll take the scorching hot desert any day of the week.  If you’d like to see me go from adventureborn to babyborn, just put me in a cold environment.

How to conquer: Even though I always tip toe into chilly water, I do eventually go all the way in. Remember to just man-up and jump in! As for the cold air, I already dress for the part. But I could dress more for the part I suppose. Layering is key. Think warm thoughts and find the nearest cup of hot chocolate to tide you over until the sun comes back.

10. Jet Lag

20120613-160144.jpgJet lag is something that has always taken me a long time to adjust to, seemingly more so than most travelers I’ve come across. My jet lag after a series of flights from California to the Netherlands was particularly the worst. It took me two weeks. I repeat, TWO WEEKS to adjust. My friends there who hosted me were eager to show me around as soon as I got there when really all I wanted to do was sleep. In London, I passed out until 4:00pm once while visiting another friend. In Guatemala, after flying halfway around the world, I was so out of it that I had no idea what day or what time it was when I woke up there. Jet lag isn’t the easiest thing to get over and really bogs down my day. Does anyone else take as long to get over lag as I do?

How to conquer: I need the help of my international friends that I visit, please if you’re reading this, FORCE ME to stay awake if I arrive midday and FORCE ME to go to sleep if I get there at night. DO NOT let me nap if I arrive during sunlight, because I WILL nap if no one stops me. Frequent travelers have learned to sleep during flights or stay awake depending on what time they know they’ll be landing. This is called rest and reset. I haven’t learned that yet because it’s difficult for me to fall asleep on long flights if I’m not in the window seat. I won’t take sleeping pills or drink on a flight because I’ll end up feeling like a sloth afterwards. Another tip is to adjust to your impending timezone days before your flight to help you stay ahead.

I’m curious to know what some of your personal weaknesses are while traveling? Can you relate to my top ten weaknesses or have any additional advice to conquering them?

My Top 10 Weaknesses While Traveling & How To Conquer Them

My personal struggles while traversing the world, in no particular order…

1. I’m ALWAYS Hungry

IMG_9366First and foremost, I’m always hungry in general. I just like to eat all the food. However, the urge to eat increases tenfold whenever I’m outside of the States. But why? What is it about traveling that leaves me hungrier and overtime…h-angrier. I’m always on the lookout for some grub and therefore more money I have to fork over. Being from the USA with our entirely unnecessary portion sizes and unlimited free coke refills is part of the problem.

How to conquer: I found that my appetite adjusts to smaller portions over a long period of time, but it takes way too long to get used to. I think the trick to this is drinking lots of water after a meal to feel fuller. Cold water curbs appetites and will also keep me hydrated too.

2. McDonald’s is My Guilty Pleasure

McDonalds' in PeruI don’t care what anyone says, McDonald’s has the most perfect fries on Earth. Throw in a classic Big Mac and an Oreo McFlurry and I’ve got myself a meal! McDonald’s is the fast food of all fast food chains that you can find in many parts of the world in the most convenient, cleverly placed locations. I love it so much but I do feel guilty whenever I am in a foreign McDonald’s, when I know I should be exploring and tasting new and different foods. It’s just that sometimes, I’m not in the mood to test my luck and with McDonald’s always nearby, I always know what I’m going to get. It’s just so damn convenient…and complete utter crap for you.

How to conquer: I’m going to force myself to try new cuisine and test out the local restaurants and eateries of whatever country I’m in. Mickey D’s (or Macca’s for you Australian readers) once in awhile is okay and especially suitable after a long night out when I have the munchies and nothing else is open. I also enjoy seeing what other foreign McDonald’s has that’s different from U.S. ones. This is going to be a hard habit to break.

P.S. I can never find a McGriddle ANYWHERE else besides in the USA. Get on it McDonald’s!

3. Fish Are Ugly

20130617-062454.jpgAs a toddler, when I found out those delicious tuna fish sandwiches my grandma gave me for lunch every other day was ACTUAL TUNA FISH, I just about lost it. How dare she? I never liked seafood since that fateful day and never gave it a fair shot until recently. I would always make it known so no one would dare try to serve me anything that came out of the sea. Fish are ugly creatures. Shrimp are ugly too. So are crabs and lobsters and mussels and all of that! I can’t be eating those. I’ve been to many seafaring countries where seafood dominates the local delicacies, but I would always opt out and try other things…like a cheese burger or pizza. Shame on me because I’ve been told that I’m really missing out on some high quality nourishment.

How to conquer:  Fortunately for my particular case, it’s mostly mental and has little to do with taste. I have been getting better with trying seafood as of late though. I love calamari now…as long as it’s heavily breaded and absolutely no tentacles! I’ve tried crab cakes and fried fish sandwiches which weren’t half bad. I think as long as it’s not in the shape of the animal that many countries serve it as, then I’ll be okay. I vow from here on to experiment and taste as many different types of fish and other seafood as I can muster. Baby steps.

4. Drunk Spender

IMG_2648If you ask my friends at home, they’d tell you that I don’t drink very often. But whenever I’m traveling, I have no car to drive and no job to report to in the morning (unless I’m teaching), so let’s go nuts! Whenever I’m out having a good time and start feeling the drinks, I usually get a little too generous and start treating my traveling comrades to rounds on rounds on rounds. The results? A freakin’ awesome night, but a sad empty wallet the next morning.

How to conquer: Only bring a small amount of money with me and leave the rest hidden at my accommodation. But what if I need my cards for emergencies? Well, that’s going to take some self control on my part. Tell a buddy to help keep you in check and you can do the same for them. But wait! In Belgium when I went on a bar crawl with some friends, I always chose the beer with the highest alcoholic content. After just a couple, I was feeling good and didn’t feel the need to keep drinking to keep the buzz going. We also all had a system. At each bar we went to, we took turns buying rounds which worked out great.

5. The Altitude Hates Me

20120801-113234.jpgI never knew altitude sickness was a thing until I was in Peru. Incredibly naive at the time, I sprinted to the top of Machu Picchu and did it without any water in my possession. I started to feel weird, like something horrible was about to happen to me. My first case of the altitude. My next and most horrible case ever was during a hike on Mount Kilimanjaro, when I suffered from altitude sickness during summit day. I felt it again next during a hike on Guatemala up one of their many volcanoes. I love the hikes but am forever fearful of the altitude getting to me. What baffles me the most is that people who aren’t as fit as I am didn’t have as much trouble as I did.

How to conquer: Before Kilimanjaro, I did some hefty research on ways to avoid altitude sickness. The bottom line is that the altitude affects everyone differently, know matter how fit they may be. There are ways to help prevent and manage it though. Taking it slow and letting your body adjust to high altitudes, drinking plenty of water, and rest often. There are also tablets such as acetazolamide medication to prevent and reduce the symptoms. Aspirin also works for a quick fix. As for my suffering on Kilimanjaro, my best advice is to trust your gut and listen to your body. As horrible as I felt, my mental state allowed me to continue to the end but if I had to stop then I would have stopped for good and turned around. You know your physical limits better than anyone else.

6. Motion Sickness

20120802-125211.jpgBy far my biggest hindrance while traveling…or my whole life in general. I haven’t found the proper way to battle this and I’ve tried almost everything. I’ve used Dramamine and other similar motion tablets numerous times and they do work, but they knock me out almost instantly. I still feel bad for my poor European and Costa Rican friends who drove me to amazing places, only to have me sleeping the entire way. I make for a lousy passenger and I usually feel groggier than shit when I do wake up. Don’t get me started with boats; they are the worst offender.

How to conquer: After scouring the internet and Amazon.com, I found tablets which are natural with no sleepy side effects. I bought 200 of those bad boys so hopefully they’ll do the trick without making me tired. I also found that ginger has natural properties to help soothe stomach nausea. I’ll have to find some candy versions. Also on a recent trip to Wales, Lucy drove me everywhere and I didn’t use any tablets. I made an effort to not look out the side window and look solely out the front. Unless I can train my body to cope (is that even possible?), these sleepless tablets will have to do.

7. Being Part of Large Tourist Groups

10372848_10204079240967467_2550388673300259244_oMy God, I HATE being stuck in tourist groups, especially ones with lots of fanny packs and little kids. Get. Me. Out! I once abandoned an insanely slow group in Machu Picchu and did my own thing exploring and taking neat photos which was way more enjoyable. Granted I didn’t really learn anything while I was there, but that’s what Wikipedia is for later. I try not to do touristy group things but sometimes it’s unavoidable. If I can just run and explore freely on my own (in a respectable manner of course) my world would be a much better place.

How to conquer: I wouldn’t recommend ditching groups because you won’t really learn much and it looks kinda bad on your part. Plus, sometimes the groups can be cool and if you have a really super guide, they can turn a boring tour into an interesting one. If you have the time, DO make friends with the locals. They can show you things most tour groups can’t.

8. Orca Whales

I’m not afraid of many things, but few know that I’m terribly afraid of whales; specifically killer mother effin’ orca whales. The way they’re designed, everything about them screams deadly.  Like a giant torpedo, a sleek black and white jet with a giant sharp pointy dorsal fin sticking out of the water coming right at you! As a kid, I always thought those giant white spots were it’s eyes. Those blank…sinister eyes like a monster. I can’t explain it. They are simply terrifying and thankfully I haven’t come across a wild one yet, but I dread the day.

How to conquer: As much as orcas terrify me, they also fascinate me at the same time. I have a strong hunch I’ll be dealing with orcas on the Antarctica leg of an upcoming trip. Learning more about them could curb my fear. Like how I recently discovered that there hasn’t been a single fatality from a wild orca whale on a human in recorded history. I may just become an expert on orcas in just a matter of time.

9. Cold.

I’m the guy that takes 20 minutes to fully get into the water because cold. I’m also that guy who travels avoiding the winter season wherever I go because cold. Screw the cold! The freezing temperatures makes me want to nap under a hundred blankets near a fireplace and not wake up until the sun comes back. I nearly froze to death from wanting to fall asleep on top of frigid cold Kilimanjaro. Thankfully my friends were there to keep me going. I’ll take the scorching hot desert any day of the week.  If you’d like to see me go from adventureborn to babyborn, just put me in a cold environment.

How to conquer: Even though I always tip toe into chilly water, I do eventually go all the way in. Remember to just man-up and jump in! As for the cold air, I already dress for the part. But I could dress more for the part I suppose. Layering is key. Think warm thoughts and find the nearest cup of hot chocolate to tide you over until the sun comes back.

10. Jet Lag

20120613-160144.jpgJet lag is something that has always taken me a long time to adjust to, seemingly more so than most travelers I’ve come across. My jet lag after a series of flights from California to the Netherlands was particularly the worst. It took me two weeks. I repeat, TWO WEEKS to adjust. My friends there who hosted me were eager to show me around as soon as I got there when really all I wanted to do was sleep. In London, I passed out until 4:00pm once while visiting another friend. In Guatemala, after flying halfway around the world, I was so out of it that I had no idea what day or what time it was when I woke up there. Jet lag isn’t the easiest thing to get over and really bogs down my day. Does anyone else take as long to get over lag as I do?

How to conquer: I need the help of my international friends that I visit, please if you’re reading this, FORCE ME to stay awake if I arrive midday and FORCE ME to go to sleep if I get there at night. DO NOT let me nap if I arrive during sunlight, because I WILL nap if no one stops me. Frequent travelers have learned to sleep during flights or stay awake depending on what time they know they’ll be landing. This is called rest and reset. I haven’t learned that yet because it’s difficult for me to fall asleep on long flights if I’m not in the window seat. I won’t take sleeping pills or drink on a flight because I’ll end up feeling like a sloth afterwards. Another tip is to adjust to your impending timezone days before your flight to help you stay ahead.

I’m curious to know what some of your personal weaknesses are while traveling? Can you relate to my top ten weaknesses or have any additional advice to conquering them?