Tag Archives: Travel Tips

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.

20130826-172728.jpg

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.

20130728-080558.jpg

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.

20130728-080828.jpg

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.

198198_1008488818655_6141_n.jpg

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…

IMG_4382

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!

For more posts like these and everything related to ADVENTURE TRAVEL, please subscribe by clicking the Follow button on this page and also follow along on Instagram and Facebook! I’d love to hear from you.  🙂

The Secrets To How I Traveled Western Europe on The Cheap

IMG_2743

 


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.

200353_1006925819581_9184_n

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

20120710-114202.jpg

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.

IMG_2685

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.

IMG_5625.JPG

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!

IMG_5190.JPG

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.

13754410_10100632647323714_2720051681077615496_n.jpg

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.

IMG_3717

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.

IMG_5818

 

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!

img_5673-2.jpg

 

-Any questions? Feel free to ask me- 🙂

-Daniel Adventure Born-

How I Avoided a Complete Disaster of Traveling With My Non-Traveling Friends

It was bound to happen and I knew it would.

#byefelicia
#byefelicia
I tried my best to prevent it but it was inevitable. A rift formed in my group of New Zealand companions. It was mainly me vs. the other two, with Ryan spectating from the sides.

Traveling with people who travel often is WORLDS different than traveling with people who never or rarely do so. I will always prefer to go about it alone, meeting people along the way. With my intentions to go to New Zealand, I assumed I would once again go solo. It’s been my thing for years and it’s always worked extremely well. Still, I always wished for my friends back home to experience what I experienced, because talking about it and showing them pictures doesn’t express any justice. You just had to be there. The way Chelsey, Ryan, and Mike came about to join me in New Zealand was spur of the moment random and super spontaneous. I’m actually a bit picky about who I will let accompany me because traveling across the world unleashes a never-before-seen side to my American friends that I didn’t want to risk seeing. However, having them join me would test my desire of having my friends getting a taste of the globetrotting life I led. They were joining me on my trip, which they were well aware of. “We are following you Dan,” is what they would tell me, but I knew it wouldn’t turn out that way. This was now our trip. Now that everything is said and done, I can safely say it was an overall success.

Remember how naive and stupid you were when you first began traveling, Daniel. I always kept that in the back of my head.

Here is how I avoided a complete blunder of traveling with my non-traveling friends:

1. Create A Plan So Everyone Is On The Same Page

To avoid most disputes, I was pretty darn careful about our plan for our New Zealand/Fiji trip. The first issue was the actual plan. Those who really know me, know that I don’t really plan ahead for my backpacking trips, I just go with the flow. Take a look at my recent backpacking trip I like to call The Unplanned Plan. I had no idea where the heck I was going! However, I know many people are uncomfortable with the idea of the unknown and so with my non-traveling comrades, I formulated with them a rough draft to keep everyone on the same page which worked well. The only issue I had was that for the most part, my comrades have given little input to the plan I suggested and were basically game for anything. I was happy about this but also worried at the same time that I would fall into the chaperone role. I knew that once we got to New Zealand is when they would begin suggesting things they would want to do.

2. Discuss How Money Will Be Dealt With BEFORE Departure

Money is one of the the biggest issues that cause disagreements while traveling with friends. I’ve had to separate from fellow backpackers because our budgets were just too different. Thankfully with this group, money wasn’t a huge deal. I trusted them enough to offer to put the majority of our group expenses on my foreign transaction-free credit card and then have everyone PayPal what they owed me at the end. This worked very well but it took a lot of effort on my part. I had to retain every receipt we acquired on our trip (food, lodging, splitting gas, etc) in a neat folder to sort out at the end. Then, I created an excel spreadsheet of what everyone owed me once we arrived in Fiji. PayPal made it simple and easy via the apps on our phones. The problem lies in the trust issue. Thankfully, I had the fortune of being able to fully trust my comrades as far as money was concerned and everything worked out great at the end. They all paid me back promptly too!

This is part of the spreadsheet I created to keep tabs on everyone's individual expenses. This worked out so good!
This is part of the spreadsheet I created to keep tabs on everyone’s individual expenses. This worked out so good!

3. Never Make a Decision Without the Approval of Everyone Else in the Group

I was particularly careful about this one. Of course everyone is gonna want to do something different. Like how everyone wished to visit Hobbiton and I didn’t want to at all. There will be times when majority of the group wants to do something the other wants to do and in those cases, majority rules. I was perfectly fine sitting out and catching up on writing. Same goes for food. We all had different appetites, but still I always let them decide what we ate if we couldn’t help it. We couldn’t really separate because we were in the middle of nowhere with one car. No big deal though. Thankfully everything I suggested we do, the others were down with. Same goes for Chelsey suggesting Paihia and Mike suggesting Tongariro. We didn’t really have an issue in this matter. So far so good!

4. Make Time to Separate and Do Your Own Thing

By the time we reached Wellington, my group began to feel suffocated from being around each other 24/7. We’ve been bound at the hip since Auckland and now that we had a few days in Wellington with no plan, we found time to explore at our own accord. Mike was able to get a couple CrossFit sessions in, Chelsey explored the local zoo and museums at her leisure, while Ryan and I practically won a beer pong tournament (it came down to rock-paper-scissors in which we lost) at a local bar. Wellington was very much needed. Wellington was also where I addressed an underlying issue within the group.

img_0050

5. Be Open About an Issue Before it Grows into Something Bigger

I always had the mindset to have a group discussion if I noticed things getting sour between the four of us. Well things were getting sour, and so once I had the others attention, I revealed the elephant in the room. I can tell what the issue was without even asking, Mike and Chelsey believe I am too controlling. Why would they think that? Well for one, I wouldn never let them drive and secondly, I would rush them a bit when they were lallygagging. Why wouldn’t I let them drive? There’s good reason. When I rented this car, I picked it up with full coverage added on just in case anything happened to the vehicle, we’re completely covered. However, that full coverage would have been void if anyone else drove besides the driver who signed and picked up the car (me). Mike and Chelsey never drove on the left side of the road before and really wanted to try it which was understandable, after all they did each pay for a quarter of the costs. But I couldn’t risk paying hard earned money for something completely avoidable just because they wanted to try it out. At the end of the day, I let both of them drive when we were on long stretches of road with barely any traffic. Honestly, it was like appeasing the little kid who wanted to ride the big kid ride.

As for being rushy, at times I had to be. We only had two full weeks to explore New Zealand which is nowhere near enough time. I originally wanted to do a month or two but had to cut it down to two weeks once they tagged along. With that in mind, I know there will be plenty of opportunity for me to return on my own and do my own thing, but for them not so much. It was my effort to have them see as much as they could in the most efficient way as possible to get the most out of their trip. During instances when they were loafing or suggesting something that I knew was unfavorable for timing standards, I had to shut them down no question. When I explained it to them, they understood. At the end of the day, we were never late for anything.

I made it clear to them what my intentions were. My intended trip of backpacking New Zealand solo turned into a trip for me to make sure they had an action packed two weeks for as cost effective as possible. I think I succeeded on that note too with everyone remaining under their budgets. I’ve done trips like these a zillion times, so I just needed them to trust me more. Once we were done with our pow wow and everyone said their peace, we all were on great terms for the remainder of the trip.

Crisis averted!

Processed with Snapseed.

Onward to Fiji!

In addition to the two week trip in New Zealand, the four of us also planned about four days in Fiji before they go back home to Michigan and I continue on my own. I reserved us dorm beds at the Fiji Beachouse, one of the most highly rated budget accommodations on the main island. Instead of the backpacker infested hostels in Nadi, I thought the Fiji Beachouse, located about three hours away from the hustle and bustle, would fit the vibe more…and it certainly did. This place was amazing!

IMG_2740.jpg

IMG_2849.jpg

As soon as I walked through the premises, I truly felt like my solo trip has begun. I didn’t have to drive anywhere, I didn’t have to split costs with anyone, I didn’t have to do a damn thing but relax my butt off before I move deeper into the country…solo! (Never quite solo, I’m always with people I meet along the way.) The Fiji Beachouse did have its share of backpackers though. A few of them we befriended and ending up on a few small excursions close by the Beachouse.

14203307_10153782140396717_3736737401403604837_n.jpg

I met some locals when my New Zealand crew were on one of those excursions, who invited me over for Kava. The experience was so unique and authentic, that I brought over my crew and a few backpackers the next day to experience it as well.

Would I Travel With Non-Travelers Again?

The day has come for Chelsey, Mike, and Ryan to finally head back to the USA. We’ve been together for nearly three weeks all over the North Island of New Zealand and the Fiji Beachouse with memories that will stick with us forever. Thankfully, I had a solid group with me because I’ve met other travelers on the road who haven’t been so lucky.

When they packed and waited near the bus stand to go to the airport, I actually missed their departure because I was in the middle of eating lunch and the bus came a lot earlier than I expected. When I ran to the bus station to say my goodbyes to them, they were already gone.

Alright, here's a better photo.
Alright, here’s a better photo.
So would I travel with friends from home again? Specifically the Non-Traveling ones? Ummmm, perhaps but maybe one at a time, not three at once. Surprisingly, if I could travel with Chelsey, Mike, and Ryan again, I would do it individually, not as a group. I’ve learned their separate styles and am able to adapt better when one on one. Mike is an adventurer and is super keen on taken the unbeaten path. Chelsey is a wanderlust, which means she is very fond of meeting other travelers and taking their advice to find the next best thing. Ryan is a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. If he’s part of a group, he’s just happy to be along for the ride.  Regardless, I learned a whole lot from the experience. If anything, I found that I would make a fantastic tour guide (something I never want to do as a profession).

With the three away, it was time to begin the rest of my journey on my own accord. And let me tell you, within a couple of days of being in Fiji, I already found myself at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean surrounded by sixteen massive bull sharks. Literally.

Let me explain…

Advertisements

How To Pack For A Trip To Every Continent


There is no perfect way to pack for any trip, regardless the scale. But after a few years of travels and lots of packing, I’ve come up with an ideal guide to help decide how one should pack in the most practical way possible. This is how I’m packing for my upcoming trip.

Every trip is different and how you should pack depends on four criteria:

  • Where Are You Going?
  • When Are You Going?
  • What Will You Be Doing?
  • How Long Are You Going For?

I’ll apply my upcoming trip, The Quest To The Seven Continents, to those four criteria to help me decide what to pack:

Where Are You Going? Attempting to reach all seven continents and a multitude of countries, from the pureness of Michigan, to the islands of Fiji, to the heat of Africa, to the icy Antarctic, and beyond!

When Are You Going? Now until whenever. I know it will be winter in New Zealand when I get there. As for when I arrive everywhere else…your guess is as good as mine at this point.

What Will You Be Doing? A little bit of everything! Adventuring, exploring, teaching, and challenging myself in all sorts of countries spread across the world.

How Long Are You Going For? Not sure. Two years is what I’ve been telling everyone. Could be more, could be less. It all depends.

I know, vague answers. It would be easier to know what to pack if I knew the exact answers to the questions above, which presents another problem…

I want to pack light but how can I do so with such a sizeable, yet mysterious trip that could take me literally anywhere on Earth?

The answer is simple. Pack the absolute essentials (listed below) and know that anything hefty (sleeping bags, winter coats, boots, etc) can be bought, borrowed, or rented later for whenever you may need them down the road. Throughout all of my previous travels, I’ve never had an issue. I’m not packing for major hikes and camping because I know there are rental companies just about everywhere for that. I’m not hauling around snow gear for Antarctica because I know there are rental areas for that too. There was a case where I needed a sleeping bag for a volcanic hike and a friend I met was able to lend me one which saved me money.

Essentials:

  1. Toiletries – a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, razor, 2-in-1 hair and body soap. Ya know, the basics.
  2. Basic Clothing – a handful of underwear, dark-colored t-shirts, black ankle socks, some comfortable shorts and pants with pocket space. (Tip: If possible, avoid white clothes when you’re traveling, especially white socks. They’re going to get dirty real fast and are harder to clean than darker colored clothing.)
  3. Shoes – always have your one main pair of shoes that you will wear the most, which will most likely be your runners, trainers, gym shoes, casual, or whatever suits your style.

After writing this list, I just realized how it’s catered more to males than females. Women tend to over pack more than men and I’m not sure what to tell you to bring. Think of what you use the most in your daily routine and go with your gut! Most travelers I meet abroad always say they over packed and brought too much.

Electronics:

  1. MacBook Air (Equipped with a protective case, screen protector, and keyboard cover) – lightweight, reliable, and easier to type on than my iPad which is currently retired.
  2. Seagate 2 TB Portable Hard Drive – one of my most important electronics. Mainly used to back up all the photos and videos I will take. I’m also storing a few movies and games to entertain me on my downtime. It’s extremely small, compact, and lightweight.
  3. Canon EOS 6D (Equipped with rubber body cover and screen protectors) – My newest big boy camera. This will be my companion throughout this upcoming trip around the world.
  4. GoPro Hero 4 Black – This is a must for any thrill seeking traveler. I took awhile to decide between the silver (which has a touch screen) or the black edition (which doesn’t have a touch screen, but records more fps). I ultimately decided to go with the Black. The touch screen will be useless when the waterproof case is attached and I can use my iPhone as a view screen instead if I really wanted to. I’m also bringing spare batteries and a lightweight extendable stick that can transform into a tripod.
  5. iPhone 6s Plus 128GB (Equipped with case and screen protector)– I’m bringing the big one because its great for pictures on the go and mainly because I know at some point I’ll be in South Africa and those kids in Stellenbosch would always play games on my iPad. I’m not bringing my iPad this time so this will have to do. I’ve already downloaded a bunch of old favorites on there including their ultimate favorite game “Subway Surfer.” I got the 128GB version because on my previous trip, I constantly ran out of room on the 16GB and always had to delete content.

These are my most expensive and valuable items I’m bringing with me in order to share my experiences with the world. If I weren’t documenting or blogging, I would leave behind the MacBook, portable hard drive, and probably the GoPro. Every single electronic will be packed in my carry-on back pack with me through every airport. Never put your valuables in your stored luggage, should your bag goes missing. This will save you a world of headaches.

My Personal Must-Brings:

1. Water ShoesDeep See Water ShoesI don’t use them often, but when I do, I’m glad to have them. For those situations when it’s best to be barefoot but not quite barefoot, these are a must for me. I used them while swimming through caves and river treks on recent trips and boy did they come in handy.

2. Travel Towel15db0a0c-88eb-4624-bf06-7e0c3442458e – I’ve never brought a towel with me on trips because they take up too much space and I can usually rent or buy a towel wherever I am. This time, I’m bringing this light weight, quick drying towel to help keep my bag as light as possible.

 

3. Waterproof Hiking ShoesWater Proof Hiking Shoes – I don’t normally bring hiking shoes either as they are bulky and take up space but since I plan on doing some extensive hiking on this trip, a quality pair of hiking shoes will be essential.

 

Travel-Pillow-KohbiR-Travel-Bliss-Memory-Foam-Neck-Pillow-Premium-Neck-Support-Pillow-for-Comfort-Rest-Free-Bonus-Travel-Tips-Ebook-Luxurious-Plush-Astral-Blue-Velour-Washable-Cover-Lightweight-Neck-R-04. Neck Pillow – Sleep comes a little easier with this. It came in handy when I was stuck in a bus station for two days and when I needed that extra support for when I stay in a place with just one measly pillow. Perfect to lean on when I’m in a window seat on a plane or bus. And small enough to store and take with me almost anywhere. I usually keep it attached the outside of my carry-on.

5. Waterproof Phone PouchWaterproof Phone PouchThere were times when I simply just didn’t feel like busting out my GoPro every single time I was in a situation that required me to get wet. That’s when my waterproof pouch came in as a great substitute. My phone fits right inside it and I can wear it around my neck. I can touch the screen through the transparent cover with ease and the photos and videos come out just as they would without the pouch. The pouch also floats in case I did lose hold of it. I actually used this more than my GoPro on a previous trip though Central America.

6. Motion Sick Tablets81sypdAxCTL._SX522SX522_SY661_CR,0,0,522,661_PIbundle-4,TopRight,0,0_SX522_SY661_CR,0,0,522,661_SH20_I can’t travel without them. I will be on many different modes of transportation and will be loading up on non drowsy tablets. Whenever I ran low, I found that many countries sold their own versions. I have been able to find motion sick tablets almost everywhere I went, even some for way cheaper you would find in the US that worked just as well.

 

 

wn-logo-withtag-rgbmed_4fd17c4492a617. Travel Insurance – Don’t leave home without it. You never know what may happen. I can usually find good rates through my most frequent provider World Nomads. I keep a copy of my insurance in my document folder and a digital copy in my email.

8. Document Folder – For every major trip, I bring a sturdy folder that I keep in the laptop sleeve of my carry-on. Inside this folder are important documents I may need for emergency situations. Paper copies of my passport, flight itineraries, background information (for teaching purposes), spare passport-sized photos, and other important letters and documents. I rarely have to use them, but always give peace of mind just in case anything were to happen. (Tip: Before every trip, I always scan and email myself all of those documents in case I lose my folder.)

9. Spare Debit Cards – Before every trip, I always ask my bank to send me an extra debit card attached to my account. I keep it separate from my active card (my active card in my wallet and my inactive card hidden somewhere among my bags). I keep the spare card inactivated and bring it with me just in case my activated one becomes lost or stolen. If such were to happen, I can easily activate my spare by inserting it into an ATM or calling the number provided which would in turn deactivate my old one immediately. Fortunately, I’ve never had a problem as of yet.

Things That I Should Bring But Can Do Without:

  1. Jeans – I’ve come to realize, I hate wearing jeans. They’re uncomfortable and relatively heavy compared to my other pants, yet I always brought a pair or two on my travels and barely wore them. Well not anymore! If there is an instance where I’ll need a “nice” pair of pants, I’ll just buy something wherever I am.
  2. Sleeping Bag – Just no. They’re too big and take up too much valuable space. Whenever I needed a sleeping bag, I was able to rent one for cheap or borrow one on the spot. I know I’ll need a sleeping bag eventually, but as for now I am okay. I’d say you should only bring a sleeping bag if your travels depend heavily on camping or sleeping outdoors.
  3. Sunscreen – I’ve never bought sunscreen in my life. Thankfully because of my darker complexion, I’ve never had any issue with sunburns. Now I definitely could get burnt but it hasn’t happened yet. It’s the least of my worries and when it comes a time that I should probably use some, I can buy a small bottle or borrow a dabble from one of my paler travel companions. 🙂
  4. Money Belt – I’ve never actually used a money belt but the idea of it is beneficial and can help for a peace of mind. I personally am always conscious of my passport and wallet and secure them into my front pockets. If I’m walking through crowds, my hands are always in my pockets. I’ve been pretty good about safely securing my important belongings and the thought of constantly going through a money belt, snug tightly under my shirt every time I needed to get money would become annoying real fast. I can see it working for some but not a necessity for me.
  5. Fanny Pack (Bum Bag-UK) – No.

I’m only bring a 75 liter backpack and a smaller carry-on bag for all of my electronics and a couple of articles of clothing to hold me over in case my luggage goes missing. My toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant is always with me on my carry-on. After a long flight, I go straight to the public restroom to brush my teeth and freshen up.

With all of this, I don’t think I could ever pack perfectly for this trip. Anything can happen and I probably will end up in places I’ve never heard of or presented with an opportunity I didn’t pack for. Situations like these have happened before and I was always able to manage. In tight times, there was always a local friend or fellow traveler who were able to help me out.

Hope this guide helps with your global trips, whether they be a few days to a few years, around the block or across the oceans. Happy packing!

Feel free to leave your questions or comments below or to my email, daniel@adventurborn.net.

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?