1. Avoid being stuck sitting at the back of the bus – the air conditioning drips (IF it has A/C), it smells worse than the front, its VERY bouncy and makes it difficult to type
2. Based on sage parting advice of my youngest son, Joseph, when in doubt, say Yes! Be willing to change plans at a moments notice
3. Don’t be so sure of what you THINK you know. When in doubt, TRUST YOUR HEART!
4. Travel with a built-in-filter water bottle – it is valuable beyond measure
5. Keep very well hydrated AND always remember that you never can be sure when you’ll find a toilet – plan liquid intake accordingly!
6. Always keep a wad of toilet paper in your pocket
7. Travel times can end up many hours longer than expected – refer to number 5 (especially if trip involves a boat with a wooden seat and no toilet!)
8. Sticky notes are extremely useful
9. Real travel guidebooks are way better than e-books and worth carrying their weight
10. Finger calluses take a full 7 weeks to disappear completely
11. Do not be afraid – fear makes one a target
12. Do not be afraid to make mistakes – they keep you humble and real. Likewise, embarrassment is a waste of energy. Instead, laugh easily, especially at oneself.
13. Trust your instincts and don’t second guess – one way or other, you have a 50/50 chance of being right. If you “go wrong” you might find something really interesting that’s not on a map
14. When things really seem to go off the rails, BREATHE (X3) – now they don’t look so bad
15. The first and MOST IMPORTANT WORD to learn in every place you go is THANK-YOU! Use it as often as possible
16. Ask for and take advice willingly but never forget that this is YOUR journey!
17. Acknowledge, Accept and Receive every moment with gratitude
18. Give yourself a rest when needed – take time to step back and let things sink in – put your feet up whenever possible (without offending anyone!)
18a. Keep a journal!! Take photos of information sheets for later reference.
18b. Whenever possible, when taking a photo, take it first with ALL your senses, before pushing the button.
19. A hot shower and proper mattress can be a very nice treat
20. Staying in a truly native village is a blessed and humbling experience. Nevertheless, smoke from open cooking fires burns the eyes and sinuses – 3 days in a row is my max
21. Try new foods, especially if you have NO CLUE what it is – you never know what kind of a surprise you’ll get!
22. When tasting new foods, ALWAYS have water nearby
23. REAL bananas are small, sometimes pink, taste like sugar on a stick and might contain big, very hard seeds – savour every bite!
23a. Avoid packaged food like the plague. It’s usually stale anyway!
24. Feeling and probably looking like a fat blob from all the interesting food you are trying is totally okay!
25. If you feel like something is crawling on you, it probably is! Get used to it!
26. Some people perceive 20 degrees Celcius as being cold. Laugh with them – not at!
27. Don’t judge people if they seem rude. It may just be a different cultural perspective. Remember that I can seem equally rude or insensitive because of my own ignorance.
27a. Be OKAY with feeling ignorant. It’s humbling and prompts one to learn.
28. Know and/or learn quickly what you TRULY need to be comfortable and allow for that in your budget. Be willing to let go of EVERYTHING else.
29. Travel involves A LOT of sitting – walk and stand as much as possible – exercise is possible in all positions.
30. Nodding (yes) and moving the head back and forth (no) can mean the opposite in a different culture!
31. Be ready to be challenged in ways you’d never imagined – those are the best opportunities for growth
32. Smile! Smile! Smile!!
33. Finally, a repeat because it bears repeating, learn THANK-YOU, say it out loud and PRAY it in your HEART, in whatever spiritual language you speak, AT ALL TIMES!