This six-month odyssey has flown by. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things about traveling this way and some things about myself, too. Here they are in no particular order. Ten things I’ve learned while on the road–six months, one suitcase:
1. It’s possible to live comfortably out of one suitcase. Though to be strictly honest, I have one suitcase, plus a backpack for my electronics, but still…
2. I intensely dislike having to get up and get moving early in the morning. Therefore, traditional “If this is Tuesday, it must be Belgium”-style touring is difficult for me.
3. Frequently changing locations wears me out. I do much better when I can park myself somewhere and do day trips or short hops using only a carryon.
4. A carryon can be bought at a “dollar store” on location. I don’t need to spend a lot of money on it because I will probably leave it behind when my trip is over.
5. Anywhere that I can go with only the carryon, I don’t need 100ml/3oz. of any product. On future trips, I’ll bring tiny containers.
6. Photograph it now or regret it later. Don’t count on ever having the same shot twice.
7. It’s okay to say “yes.” Think it over and then buy it now, as long as I love it and can afford it. I’m talking about some trinket that I’ve never seen before and won’t find anywhere else. It must be light and and small enough to fit into my suitcase.
8. Not all hostels are created equal. I had terrific luck in Barcelona, not so much in Dublin. Apparently, I’m a delicate flower that needs certain things, such as a clean, safe, well-lit place with a comfortable mattress, hot water, not too much noise, heating and cooling, reliable wifi, and a good location. Is that too much to ask?
9. Take travel advice and suggestions with a grain of salt. Everyone has different standards and expectations, and unless they match mine, I’m liable to find the “awesome” restaurant, that someone told me about, only mediocre. Or vice versa. Same goes for hotels, attractions, tours, etc.
10. I am now a “proper traveler,” as a Scottish man told me, not a tourist. Instead of visiting every castle and church, seeing every jewel and artifact, I enjoy poking around, talking with the locals, trying new foods, taking photos, soaking up the ambience, and maybe living there for a spell.
Bonus lesson: Goodbye is hard, but to quote A.A. Milne, via Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”