I’ve said this a few times on here…
“Do as I say, not as I do.”
As a travel blogger, sometimes I feel pressure to make sure I’m saying the right things, giving the best advice, and not leading someone astray. I wrote a little about that in my post The Truth About Traveling India Alone after a reader thought my advice for girls to travel India alone wasn’t the best.
I’m not perfect obviously and when I do mess up, I definitely get called out on it.
My education background is nursing, not geography, writing, or spelling (I’m sure you’ve noticed!). I don’t write anywhere near perfectly and I also don’t travel perfectly.
Anything I’ve learned about traveling, is from experience, which means I often learn from my mistakes. Sometimes I repeat those mistakes! I have gotten part way to the airport and realized I don’t have my passport. I’ve calculated time wrong and had to beg an airline counter to rush me to an airport gate. I went to the wrong airport in Bangkok once and had to rush to the other one when I realized my airlines check-in counter was nowhere around.
I don’t hide my mishaps on here and I often tell people “I don’t do this, but you SHOULD do ___ ” . I believe in this advice that I give and wish I could always follow it myself.
My own travel advice I struggle to follow
1. Don’t wear leggings in India
I have mentioned that wearing tight leggings/yoga pants and not wearing a t-shirt long enough to cover your bum, is showing a bit too much. I live in yoga pants and in Goa because it’s okay here, so sometimes I’ll wear them to the airport and when I land in Mumbai I’ll wrap shirt around my waist. Sometimes I wear them when doing adventure things to- but no, I wouldn’t wear them to a temple.
Jeans in India are fine in my opinion. I saw girls wearing jeans even up in Northeast India tribal areas.
The longer I stay in India, the more Indian girlfriends I meet. I see them wearing whatever the hell they want, and so I start to too – but I don’t advise people to do so.
2. Do your research comparing flights
I have shared that you should look into flights in advance and watch the prices. Statistics show that you should book about 40 days out for the best price. I do search my top 3 sites to see who’s got the best deal, but sometimes I’m so excited I just book the best price I see that day!
I don’t have enough patience to wait and watch… but you should because it saves money! I definitely don’t have patience to travel hack or use frequent flier miles. I actually just reviewed a service called Next Vacay where you pay $25 for a year of flight alerts from the airports closest to you which is a lifesaver since they have found return trips USA to India for $300 and I usually pay $1200. Eek!
3. Show up on time for your flights
Should be a common one, and I usually have the best intentions to show up really early but for some reason I am always miscalculating time and making the most ridiculous flight errors. I guess the percentage isn’t that high since I fly a lot but at least 2x a year I’m basically sitting in traffic somewhere nearly in tears!
I also know and tell you guys that you need to book a train ahead of time because they are often full. That doesn’t stop Ben and I from just showing up and getting on and paying the conductor for a seat no one showed up for. This can and has failed, and you have to get off the train. Obvi not the best thing to do.
4. Read about a place before you go & plan
I wish I did this every time I travel but sometimes, like my recent trip to Unawatuna, I wing it. It costs more which is why I tell people to prepare ahead of time but the more I travel I find that I don’t have time to do so much research. It’s fun this way, but also can cause headaches like rocking up in Hawaii with no car or hotel and figuring it out after a 40 hour journey from India… stressful.
I’m in Unawatuna.. what should I do… check tripadvisor lol
5. Experiencing the food of a new place
I definitely DO try the food of any place I go. I am so into eating lol, but I can’t deny that I go to McDonalds, Starbucks, and other places when I travel, especially in India. A lot of the reason is because I can’t get these things in Goa and when you can’t have them, you crave them more.
I wrote about how I try to keep it real when I travel so I’m not ashamed of this but I guess it’s something that people like to judge travelers on. You gotta be yourself to find yourself is what I always say.
TGIF in Mumbai
6. Keep extra cash in your luggage for emergencies
You should do this. You should have back up money in your hotel room just in case. I basically never remember to do this. I am often traveling and have no cash on me. I am always have taxi drivers stop at the ATM because I don’t have any cash on me to pay them.
7. Have data on your phone to follow maps in a taxi
Ben always makes fun of me like I’m a teenager in England that won’t pay the money to “top up” their phone. I never have recharge and data on my phone. I have a pay-as-you-go in India and never remember to top it up. I catch myself all the time in a taxi wishing I had data to map out the path so I don’t pay extra getting lost or going on a “let’s make the meter go up joy ride”.
lost on the side of the road with a broken down car
8. Don’t hitchhike or go off with strangers
I guess I feel like I have a good judge of character and might meet friends as I travel that I end up having a drink with. I hitchhiked in Albania and even here in India. In fact, I pick up hitchhikers in India. You totally shouldn’t do this! I shouldn’t do this either! A US women hitchhiked to her home in Manali (super touristy town) and was raped by 3 men in 2013 which is a year after I first came to India. Of course, there are MANY cases like this here. I no longer hitch rides but I do take little old ladies into Mapusa and little girls begging in Anjuna to new places to beg which are on my way. So far, seems harmless.
9. Don’t get drunk & stay out late when you are traveling alone
Don’t do it… because you make yourself vulnerable to bad situations. Have I done this? Yup. Because sometimes you don’t plan it and just have one too many! I don’t try to not follow this advice but sometimes break it (very very rarely!)
10. Try to stay fit while you travel
I have had guest posters give this advice because I can’t even write about it- I’m that bad at it. I’ve had guest posters write how to stay skinny while you travel & how to stay healthy while you travel. I believe in this advice and try to follow-up but very often fail at this advice. I’m actually trying a lot harder at it recently.
from my guest poster (linked above), cuz I can’t do this awesome stuff!
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I feel you on these, especially the one about staying fit. I try and force myself to do some exercise every day but it doesn’t always happen. Especially not in the Southeast Asian summer.
Oh yeah it can be so rough in the heat and humidity
Nice post. I totally ate at the TGI Fridays in Mumbai. Haha! It was so nice. Here in Udaipur we have Dominoes and I like to eat it. :)
hahah it’s hard to resist :D we also get dominos sometimes but I swear I get sick to my stomach every single time and I say I won’t do it again, but I do!
Great post!! Google Maps is great even when you have no data. You can still see where you are and where you are going. I “save” all my favorite vegan restaurants, my hotel/hostel, etc when I’m connected to WIFI, then all those stars show when offline and you can see where you are at on the map.
that’s a really good point! I try to remember to connect before leaving my hotel on WIFI so it will save too :)
great tips! they will come in handy for my next holidays, thanks a lot. also congrats on your work, you are definitely a source of inspiration