Recently I wrote an apparently quite successful (thank you!) post about “My personal 9 (UN) politically incorrect Do’s for the Solo Traveller” and because where there is a Ying there is a Yang, where there is love there is hate, here are another bunch of them because when there are reasons why you should do something, there also some reasons, too why you shouldn’t do some others!
In my opinion, some of us must be fantastically insane to take a backpack and fly for far too many hours in an uncomfortable plane seat (I take it that if you are travelling with your backpack and a budget and not in that order of priorities, you will flying tourist…) and throw yourself to the adventure in an strange land.
While out there, there are so many things that you should DO, I honestly believe that to make the experience unforgettable and somehow useful for you, the Do’s must always overcome the Don’t. It is just a matter of common sense.
DO has a positive connotation of being a proactive word, an achiever, a creator of experiences but not always is a good idea to DO all the time, no! STOP NOW, you super achiever adventurer!
The following bunch of Don’ts are based only on my own experiences and therefore they may not work just for everyone but if you find something useful among my words, please do take it and use it, I don’t want to take the blame because I didn’t advise you first!
Here they are, enjoy them J
I was really naïve at the very beginning of my travels; I badly wanted to believe that everyone was nice and everyone was good (ehem….) for most of the time I like to believe that, BUT.
Look, I may sound now like a bad person and don’t get me wrong, I love helping because I’m a highly emphatic person and I can easily put myself in other people’s shoes but the sad reality is that there are a lot of scams out there and some of them will come from fellow travellers (shock!)
My first DON’T is that, while you should be nice and emphatic to everyone, don’t be too naïve. If you see an a fellow traveller that looks more capable of travelling the world that you will ever do and tells you that someone has stolen her/his wallet and has not money at all and ask you for some money; think, observe and finally, trust your guts.
If you become Saint Mother of Theresa of the Travellers and give this person money and then tells you to increase the amount, well….What would you do? In my opinion based on my experiences, don’t give this traveller money, 90% chances are that this person is lying and relying on your good faith.
In Vietnam, a fellow traveller asked me and some others (we were all travelling on an overnight sleeping bus to Hoi An) for money as he told us all his wallet was stolen. I was quite naïve back then and I ended up giving him money that would have covered up to three nights accommodation. Next time I saw him was the day after drinking in a bar in Hoi An without a care in the world. My lesson learnt.
Be forever grateful for the countries you visit and the people that welcome you to their houses and lives, most locals are just too wonderful for words BUT the world is not a pinky place, unfortunately and so not all the locals are nice, accommodating, generous people. Truth is, out there are also individuals hoping to get something from you. Unfortunately there are countries where these are abundant. I did experience a lot of that in Vietnam, incredible place with incredible scams.
Don’t trust every local that approaches you with a smile. Unfortunately, some of those smiles are not genuine hence why, once again, you should trust your guts. If I had a feeling inside me that told me that something felt wrong, I listened to it. I could have got it wrong but I have been always pretty wise listening to myself after some mistakes here and there.
We all love to have a drink, we all love-love to have a drink in an exotic land, we all love a drink in a exotic land full of attractive people and we all super love to have a free drink in an exotic land full of attractive people.
I guarantee you that if you travel long enough, there will be a time or many times that you will end up in a bar in good company, great moments to be experienced with intensity, but as tempted as you are to accept that exotic colourful drink from the random attractive stranger is offering to you, don’t take it.
You want a drink, get your own drink. So you want to accept a drink from someone? Do spend some time talking and getting to know this person. Of course most people wants the same as you, to have a good time but, hey…the world is not that great place that we would like it to be and there are some not so nice people out there. Once again, trust your common sense if you have any left through your drinking session. Being drugged by a stranger far away from home is NOT fun and tremendously dangerous, be careful.
On that note, let’s talk about the joys of having sex with a stranger. The night if young, the music too loud to think or ideally loud to dream, the sky is a curtain of stars, the sea is warm, the beer cold, your skin is tanned and you feel good, happy and carefree. The world is your oyster and best thing yet, you’re soooo far away from home …No one sees you, you can do anything, no one is going to judge you, they won’t find out if you don’t want to. Those are very powerful feelings that push to do “stuff.
To be this free in an exotic land makes you do things that you wouldn’t do at home, I know because I’ve been there. You know the “been there, done that”, right?
If you are female alone, happy to be alive and you can and want (and why you shouldn’t??), you’ll possible end up sleeping with that attractive stranger. Chances are that this random attractive man (intentionally) will want to “slip” using protection. Don’t let that happen, just don’t. Carry your own condoms (and use them!). Things happen when you least expects them…Be ready for when it does.
My fifth don’t is very simple and straight forward. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. It is simple and yet many people ignore this. Call it a sixth sense that helps us to protect ourselves.
I really don’t know what it is but I know how important is to learn to read the signs that unconsciously your mind throws at you. No travels are exempt of difficulties, it is highly important that you remain vigilant of everything that surrounds you and act in accordance to how you feel.
Don’t shut up, do speak up. You will disagree fully in many circumstances, many times you will have to fight your way into things, discuss it or argue and so what? Don’t be shy or stupid because you feel you own to people to be nice because you are far away from home.
Backpacking can be tough; don’t believe those that come back home full of only good experiences, that’s not completely true. You’ll go through difficulties out there from time to time, not every day will be easy hence why you should never shut up, do yourself a favour and don’t because the moment you jump onto that plane and your most faithful company is a backpack, you will have only yourself to take care of you.
Some of my examples are quite valid; I have literally screamed my heart out to taxi drivers in Indonesia that promised me one fare and then asked me for another, to men that have mistreated me, to people who have tried to jump on me on queues, to officers that tried to scam me on land borders, etc…Adapt to the local customs and answer back in the same way. You can do it!
Don’t stop the communication with your friends and family. You own to your family updates on whereabouts you are. Sometimes we feel positively overwhelmed with this new life of freedom and lack of responsibilities but don’t let the people you leave behind become less relevant because your life has now become more interesting that theirs and your days are too full of adventures to spare a moment to communicate with the people that are concerned about your well being.
I know is too easy to keep travelling getting lost in your experiences but don’t forget that in some way or the other, you are where you are because your family/friends somehow supported your dreams and that is why, no matter how much fun are you getting or how difficult is to find a computer or WiFi, you should never forget about those that are at home concern about you, specially parents whom deserve to know that you are taking care of yourself and no matter how well you tell them you are, they will be sick with worry for as long as your trip lasts.
Don’t let anything get on the way between you and them. Don’t forget the important stuff.