This is my favorite piece of travel advice:
“I often get stressed out spending small amounts of money. Overall, this isn’t always bad—it’s led to a healthy paranoia about debt and a lifelong adherence to frugality. However, it has its downsides too, in that I can spend hours walking around trying to decide what to eat, or hours trying to figure out the public transit system somewhere instead of just flagging down a taxi.
It only took me about 100 countries—I’m a slow learner—but I finally created a $10 rule for myself that has been rocking my world. The $10 rule is that when I’m traveling, I deliberately avoid worrying about most things that cost $10 or less. As I said, this makes a big difference. I actually eat three meals a day now. If I can’t find free WiFi, I’ll walk into a hotel and pay for the connection. SO MUCH LESS STRESS.”
I’m still not entirely good at following it, especially because $10 is SO MUCH in Asia, but I think it’s a generally good frame of mind to be in.
I no longer book flights with two connections (I know, this was always ridiculous and I’m not sure why I’ve done this THREE times in my life and regretted each one), or overnight busses if a direct flight isn’t too much more. I sometimes eat in tourist traps, because the reason it’s a tourist trap is probably because it’s in a beautiful location, and I love beautiful locations (even if it comes with mediocre food). And I’m coming to terms with always being ripped off because I am terrible at bargaining.
I think you can walk around this world constantly angry, mistrusting, and complaining… or you can learn to let things go.
And even better, it’s made me more generous. I paid for a man’s juice at the airport because he didn’t have any Thai baht.
Another thought on kindness while traveling: nine out of ten people would ban reclining seats on airplanes.
“It’s partly because there are two general personality types while travelling…. There’s the ‘altruistic soul’, who is considerate of others, and the ‘selfish ego’, who will look to increase their own comfort at the expense of others.”
I remember reading somewhere about a travel expert who never reclines because he considers it bad karma, but now I can’t find it.
Either way, I tried to exercise positive thinking as I kept my seat upright during my entire 11 hour flight from Germany to Thailand, while I witnessed the man in front of me stay reclined during meals and even when he wasn’t sitting in it.
I hope he has a terrible vacation. (No, not really.)
I know I can’t come home yet—home being some magical undefined place where I feel safe and loved—and the major reason why is because there are times when I desperately want to.
But each place I go to feels a little less lonely and a little more full of opportunity. I’m figuring it out.