A man has got to have a code – a set of standards and philosophies to live by. Moreover, it’s my opinion that an experienced world traveller also needs a code to travel by.
These are my rules for world domination… whoops, I mean world travel. Obviously.
1. Respect the local culture
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Enough said.
2. Travel now AND later
Some people will tell you they’re in no hurry to travel the world. They’ll do it later in life. Right now they want to focus on their careers, and/or have a family first. I totally respect that. Everyone has different priorities.
But travel is one of my priorities in life, and I refuse to put it off until I’m old. I will travel now AND later on in life. I will have my cake and eat it, too, thank you very much.
Seriously, I have a dream that one day, say, 30 years from now, I’ll return to every single one of the places I’ve travelled to and see how they and I have changed over the decades. Wouldn’t that be cool?
3. Cheapness now, luxury later
Maybe it’s because I’m “so Gen-Y” that I want everything now. Well, I’m not unrealistic about it – I know that you have to work for things in life. That’s why I’m happy to travel on the cheap right now, and I tell myself that “one day I’ll travel in luxury”.
4. Travel now, blog later
The wise philosopher Ferris Bueller once said: “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Similarly, if travel bloggers don’t look up from their laptops every once in a while, they’ll miss the point of travelling in the first place: to see and experience the world.
I’ll never let my travel blog get in the way of my travel experience, which is why last week I finally got around to writing about the time I visited the Chateau d’If in Marseilles, France – a trip I did about five years ago.
Do I feel guilty that sometimes I write about trips and travel experiences that happened years ago? Heck no. I take notes. I research to make sure everything is still as it was. Besides, sometimes it’s invaluable to have the power of hindsight. When I visited Mui Ne in Vietnam, for instance, I loved it so much that I wrote a blog post wondering if it was the best beach in Vietnam. Now I know better.
5. Photos are the best souvenirs
When you’re a backpacker you tend to avoid picking up any unnecessary luggage – for obvious reasons. So instead of filling my backpack with souvenirs, I prefer to fill my computer with photographs. Which leads into my next philosophy on travel…
6. Collect memories, not things
Even when I’m not travelling, I’d rather save my money for travel – or spend it on experiences – than on “things”.
Put it this way: I’d rather clutter my brain with awesome memories than clutter my apartment with useless crap.
7. Drink the local beer
Drinking the local beer is probably the item on my travel code that I enjoy living up to the most. Seriously, I love beer – so why shouldn’t I broaden my horizons and try different beers around the world? I certainly didn’t travel half-way around the world to drink a Heineken.
The only drinking problem I have is there are too many beers in the world and too little time to drink them all.
8. Eat the local food
Similarly, I always try the local cuisine – within reason. I’d never eat whale, for example, and I’m loathe to try the insects for sale on the streets in Thailand.
You have to do what you have to do, and I do not have to eat insects.
9. Everything tastes better with chilli sauce
For the meals that you don’t really like, I find everything tastes better with a little bit of chilli sauce. Perhaps even insects.
10. Always look for the best deal
My mama didn’t raise no fool, except arguably both of my younger brothers (just joking). Always shop around and look for the best deal; don’t simply walk into the first shop you see and pay whatever the man or woman behind the counter says. That’s just stupid.
11. Represent your own country in the best way possible
I cringe when I hear about Kiwis behaving badly overseas. Stereotypes stick, so don’t tarnish your country’s reputation by being a complete and utter twat.
If you have to misbehave, at least pretend you’re Australian and not a New Zealander.
12. Sometimes you’ve just got to learn things the hard way
No-one’s perfect. I know, I come awfully close – but the truth is I made a lot of mistakes, and then I learnt from those mistakes, which made me a better person, and that’s why I’m so awesome. (To be honest, I think this whole paragraph is one big mistake.)
Some lessons you’ve just to learn the hard way, especially when you’re in a foreign land where you don’t speak the local language. Learn from those mistakes and only feel bad if you make the same mistakes again and again.
13. See and do everything – but not absolutely everything!
You may not be here again, so make sure you see and do everything you want to see and do. But don’t waste your time doing things that you don’t want to do, or going to see things you really don’t want to see, just because some travel blogger (like me) or travel guide says you should.
For example, I don’t care how amazing the local art museum is reputed to be – I’m not that into art, so I’d far rather spend my last few hours in town drinking the local beer and eating the local food in the sunshine.
14. Say ‘yes’ more
I’m a big fan of Danny Wallace’s book Yes Man (the movie is absolutely horrendous), in which the author only answers questions with the affirmative for six whole months. I won’t ruin the story for you, but what happens next is hilarious and even sort of inspirational.
We should all say ‘yes’ more because, as Danny says in his book, “probably some of the best things that ever happened to you in life, happened because you said ‘yes’ to something. Otherwise things just sort of stay the same.”
15. Make the most of your time on Earth
As soon as you’re born you start dying, so you might as well have a good time. So stop reading my dime-store philosophy (and Cake lyrics), and go out and start travelling the world Man vs World style.