Travel Tips

Robert Reid shares “44 little travel rules no one ever tells you” on his blog, Reid on Travel. His travel tips range from the practical (“Tip according to local custom”) to the hair-raising (“Wash your hands before you sleep, unless you don’t mind it if cute rats lick your fingers clean”).

Some of his tips combat the obsession of many travelers to behave “correctly,” according to their pre-determined ideal. Take tip #16, for instance: “It’s OK to just want a damn hamburger or watch Pretty Woman on channel 31.”

Or #18: “No, you don’t have to take a group tour, or have advance reservations. But it doesn’t automatically make you a bad traveler if you do.”

But like any experienced traveler, Reid also reminds us of the importance of an open mind, which has a tendency to create the best memories. Tip #42: “Always give one day to a trip to an ‘up for grabs’ experience — a rented car to get from A to B, with random stops at unplanned places. You will likely remember it longer than the Met.”

Tip #5: “Try to accept all invitations — you really should have time for that cup of tea the silver-haired couple offer you from the balcony in their summer home in Zakopane, or go camping with that Hungarian film crew at a Russian gulag.”

So what are some of the valuable tidbits of knowledge you’ve accumulated on your travels? Here are some of mine.

  • Stay. If at all possible, stay as long as you can, even if staying means hopping around the region and waking up in a new place every day. There is no better way to know a new place than lengthy immersion. Once you get comfortable and things start feeling safe, move on.
  • Packing is overrated. This applies doubly if you’re a procrastinator like me. It’s easy to forget things when you pack, and chances are you won’t really know what you need until you get there. Bring the essentials and make do.
  • Bring your camera… but don’t live through it. Photography enthusiasts have a passion for immortalizing whatever’s in front of them through their lenses. But don’t forget to experience your surroundings through your own eyes as well. Sometimes living in the moment is more rewarding than documenting it for posterity.
  • Be gutsy. Embrace new experiences and uncharted territory, but always listen to your gut. Fear and anxiety might dissuade us from trying new things, but there’s a difference between the urge to cling to the familiar and a genuine sense of danger. So trust your senses, but don’t shy away from the thrill of the unknown.
  • Your idea of the perfect trip may differ from someone else’s, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There is no need to feel guilty, or like a “bad traveler,” even if your version of a grand adventure means swimming in the ocean instead of the hotel pool. But at the same time, be open to broadening your horizons.

Max Hartshorne shares his travel tips on GoNOMAD.