Word from the backpacking wise

Well, my word has really been put to the test. A couple days into this travel venture, I was pretty consistent with my blog posts, but as time has gone on I find sitting on my computer less appealing than actually exploring…imagine that. While I haven’t been keeping up with my posts as regularly as I originally planned, I have been soaking in everything from every nook and cranny of South East Asia. As I look back on my past three months of travel, I can definitely say I’m slightly wiser than when I started. If I had to give advice, it would be this:

  • Smile – when you can’t understand anybody and nobody can understand you, flashing a compassionate smile will get you so much farther than getting upset.
  • You will get sick – it’ll happen, it’ll pass.
  • You’ll injure yourself somehow – luckily, I’ve only been left with a few scratches and a stubbed toe, but the guy next to me on this bus is covered head to toe in road rash. Moral of the story, bring a first aid kit and get travel insurance.
  • Backpacks are heavy – it might seem obvious, but my 70L backpack is now full and I really didn’t realize how heavy it could get. On the plus side, I’ll get stronger.
  • Prepare to be confused – half of the time I don’t know where I’m going or what’s going on, but I just listen to the nice local people who point me in the right direction and so far I’ve been ok.
  • Don’t get hung up on planning – it’s good to have a general plan, but don’t get too particular on the details. You’ll waste a lot of money when your plans change and, trust me, they will. I’ve been planning  week-by-week, or at the most biweekly and so far I’ve been A – OK.
  • Toilet paper doesn’t exist – ok, it does but it’s scarce in public restrooms. Stash some tissues in your backpack and you’ll thank me later.
  • Same goes for soap – stash some hand sanitizer, too.
  • Vegetarian struggles – it really hasn’t been such an issue in the big cities, but in the smaller cities you’ll pretty much be living off of vegetable fried rice and noodles. Saying “no meat” sometimes gets you farther than saying “vegetarian.” And, learning these words in the local language will definitely save you some confusion! Which, brings me to my next point…
  • Learn some of the local language – I only made an effort to say hello and thank you, but obviously learning more will help you in the long run. Most people do know English, but it’s polite and respectful to know the basics. Remember to smile politely if/when people don’t understand you. 🙂
  • Go with the flow – some stuff is going to surprise you, you’ll make some questionable decisions and maybe once or twice you’ll be concerned for your safety. You can either fight it or go with the flow, and I can definitely reassure you that going with the flow is much more fun. 🙂
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