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Some Obvious Travel Advice

From Dynomight, some common sense and straight-forward advice about travel. Some favorites:

1. Mindset matters more than where you go.

12. Clothes dry much faster with body heat.

22. If you spend a ton of money and stay in very expensive hotels and whatever, you can eliminate almost all of the frustration and uncertainty of travel. But it also feels like you never leave the global capitalist monoculture.

41. Many of the people who seem “best” at travel seem to be really good at having sensory experiences — at shutting down the internal dialog and letting the sights and sounds and smells wash over them. I am by nature horrendous at having sensory experiences, but if I make a conscious choice, then it’s pretty easy and often quite profound.

(via sippey)

Discussion  23 comments

Danielle NH

This is great: "Time seems to speed up as you get older. And you wonder—is it biological, or is it because life had more novelty when you were a child? Travel partly answers this question—with more novelty, time slows way down again."

Yen Ha

Everything on this list resonates! I am guilty of #5 and 100% agree with #22


This is a terrific list! I hope readers will add some more of their own.

Well ok then, here are mine:
1. Do a few everyday things whenver you go. Go to the movies, ride the bus or subway, eat at the local fast-food chain.
2. Brush your teeth at the end of a long flight, either prior to landing or upon arrival. Makes a huge difference in feeling good!
3. If you're confused about some local practice or how things work, spend 15 minutes just watching how everyone else does it. This has helped me buying subway tickets in Shanghai and in not getting ripped off by the bag check at Mao's tomb.
4. When you're far from home, try to see the sun rise. Daybreak in an unfamilair place is always memorable. You might even feel like you have Rome (or Rio or Osaka) all to yourself!

CW Moss

Nice list, Sam! And I love the idea of adding a few of our own suggestions.

A few from me…

  • I always travel with a little bag of snacks. That way I'm never in a rush to get a meal, and I can stay and enjoy the scenery or sunset.
  • I try to travel with a tremendous amount of very small gifts, like stickers or postcards. I give them away any time someone does something nice for me as an added thank you. In some places, this has changed my whole day because they'll invite me to a party or bar later that night.
  • For vegans and vegetarians, the app HappyCow has been excellent in certain countries. If TripAdvisor isn't helpful, give HappyCow a try.
  • When travelling, I try to not plan my days too fully, and making a big, personalized map on Google of everything I want to eat and visit has been helpful to keep it loose. If I hear about something from a local, I can go there and then just pull up the map after and see what's nearby to eat that I was excited for.
Jason KottkeMOD

Related to doing everyday things: go to the local grocery stores while traveling. A bonanza of cultural information!

Yen Ha

And! Local grocery stores make the best gifts for back home, the funny chip flavors you can only find abroad or toothbrushes or candies


Visiting local grocery stores is hands down my favorite memories from most of my trips abroad. It's so fun to see the flavors/foods that resonate in different countries. France had 8,000 different yogurts! Canada really loves ketchup-flavored things. Iceland has many cool candies. I always bring a selection of candy home for loved ones because everyone loves doing a taste test of the different flavors. And chocolate outside the US is so much better. Compare a Canadian kitkat with an American one and you'll be shocked.

Lisa S.

Yes on local grocery stores! The sheer size of the gummy aisle in a German grocery store will amaze you. Oh how I miss German gummies, and the seasonal releases.

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CW Moss

Thank you for sharing! Lists like this are a joy.

Mary Wallace

My tip: Ship stuff home.
Regarding #22. Staying in expensive hotels no longer guarantees places to put your stuff. Super cool glassed-in shower that leaks? Sure. Underwear drawer? Nope.

Terence Fox

Why oh why is every hip hotel on earth allergic to shower doors or curtains?!

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Jay Rendon

The tip I always offer: attend a local sporting event. Baseball in Japan, football in England, college basketball in Indiana, hockey in Canada are some of the most memorable experiences I've ever had when traveling. Bull fighting in Mexico was memorable, too, I suppose, but not one I can really recommend.

Jason KottkeMOD

I went to see Benfica play a friendly vs Newcastle when I was in Lisbon a few years ago and it was great fun to join in cheering the home team.

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So we're on a road trip when the host at a B+B tells us what should be the obvious: that there is no"should see". The goal is to do what we'd enjoy doing. At which point she advised us to spend a couple of days in something of a resort for the "natives", not "foreigners". And it was great.
Other thing I enjoy, maybe from growing up as something of an urban rat, is getting feet on the ground--trying to pass as a native, blending in.

Yen Ha

My tip would be to sometimes walk around without staring at a map so you can experience the spatial understanding of a city or place, let yourself be lost for a little bit.

Meg Hourihan

100% and I'd take this further and say: Don't succumb to all the information. Put the phone away. Don't plan your whole day and make endless lists of "must see" and then follow a map on your phone. Don't read a review of every restaurant before you go in. Etc etc etc

I've travelled quite a bit in the past two years in new-to-me places outside the US and the best experiences have been when I just wandered around and when something looked interested, I've stopped/eaten/had a drink/entered the small museum.

Ben Kiel

This. I sometimes think that trying to describe how one traveled in the pre-smart phone era makes you sound like an insane person. Well, you just showed up and walked around and found a place to eat and maybe you made a reservation at a hostel that you only knew 50 words about from Lonely Planet and it was fine.

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Jason KottkeMOD

From The Onion: Tourist Immediately Breaks 34 Sacred Local Customs While Deboarding Airplane.

Deacon, who somehow had no idea he was being offensive in any way, shape, or form, reportedly wasted no time doing so and, within 30 seconds of unbuckling his seat belt at the gate, had unknowingly violated countless unwritten rules that inhabitants of Japan had observed for thousands of years.

Brian Pan

I've seen Shogun. I'll second him.

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Chaston Kome

#2 is very important - my girlfriend and I went on a trip with our roommate and her boyfriend and...the approach to vacationing could not have been more different and so all four of us ended up not doing very much because we rarely were on the same wavelength on what we wanted to do.

Since that trip though, I've learned to be much more comfortable on trips to go "Hey, I'm going to go see/do/walk/grab a bite" and then put the ball in others' courts if they want to join or just stay put (or do their own thing!) I also think that helps make the vacation feel a little more casual with some coming and going and less like a tightly scripted field trip (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Tra H Edited

A couple tips we use whenever we travel:

  1. Bring an extension cord. It makes setting up the device charging situation so much easier
  2. Bring earplugs. Cities are loud and even if you live in a big one, different cities sound different and earplugs are a godsend at 5am.
  3. Bring earplugs. Nature is also loud, and waking up at sunrise to birdsongs is a beautiful experience. However, not being able to go back to sleep because one damned bird has a 15-second song loop it sings every 30-45 seconds for 2hrs every morning is maddening.
  4. Visit libraries! This is probably my favorite, I've been to libraries in so many cities/countries, and they're all different and fun and, best of all, free. It's easy to spend a couple of hours just pulling random books off the shelf and finding a nook to flip through and there's generally nice places to eat/drink nearby afterwards.

Lastly, a tip that doesn't apply for everyone here but my wife and I have to remember every time we leave the country: When we're in the United States we're Black, when we're abroad we're American. There are so many little nuances wrapped up in that statement that are hard to explain, but every trip there's a moment when this fact has to be recalled, and I have to adjust my way of thinking a bit.

Paul Josey

1. When city hopping, stay a minimum of two nights in each location, allowing yourself a full day to be immersed someplace, free of your belongings and sleep in the same bed as the night before.

2. Aim for minimally staying in two different places on a trip if possible. Time expands when experiencing new places, making the vacation feel longer.

Glenn Glass

Take a vacation from your vacation. Do some down time . Rest and relax, you don’t need to see everything all in one week. Just remember that you can always come back.

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