My 30 Best Travel Tips After 4 Years Traveling The World

Favorite Travel Tips

My Best Tips for World Travel

Travel Tips

It’s now been 4 years since I sold everything and left the United States to travel the world. These are the best travel tips I’ve discovered along the way.

November marks 4 years since I took a one-way flight from Miami to Guatemala City, leaping nervously into the unknown and leaving much of my old life behind while embarking on an epic travel adventure around the world.

It’s been a wild ride, and I’ve learned a lot since then. To celebrate my 4 year “travelversary”, I’ve decided to share a collection of my best and most useful travel tips to help inspire you.

Feel free to share your best travel tips at the end!

1. Patience Is Important

Don’t sweat the stuff you can’t control. Life is much too short to be angry & annoyed all the time. Did you miss your bus? No worries, there will be another one. ATMs out of money? Great! Take an unplanned road trip over to the next town and explore. Sometimes freakouts happen regardless. Just take a deep breath and remind yourself that it could be worse.

2. Wake Up Early

Rise at sunrise to have the best attractions all to yourself while avoiding crowds. It’s also a magical time for photos due to soft diffused light, and usually easier to interact with locals. Sketchy areas are less dangerous in the morning too. Honest hardworking people wake up early; touts, scammers, and criminals sleep in.

Favorite Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Laugh at Yourself

3. Laugh At Yourself

You will definitely look like a fool many times when traveling to new places. Rather than get embarrassed, laugh at yourself. Don’t be afraid to screw up, and don’t take life so seriously. Once a whole bus full of Guatemalans laughed with glee when I forced our driver to stop so I could urgently pee on the side of the road. Returning to the bus and laughing with them gave me new friends for the remainder of the journey.

4. Stash Extra Cash

Cash is king around the world. To cover your ass in an emergency, make sure to stash some in a few different places. I recommend at least a couple hundred dollars worth. If you lose your wallet, your card stops working, or the ATMs run out of money, you’ll be glad you did. Some of my favorite stash spots include socks, under shoe inserts, a toiletry bag, around the frame of a backpack, even sewn behind a patch on your bag.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Meet Local People

5. Meet Local People

Make it a point to avoid other travelers from time to time and start conversations with local people. Basic English is spoken widely all over the world, so it’s easier to communicate with them than you might think, especially when you combine hand gestures and body language. Learn from those who live in the country you’re visiting. People enrich your travels more than sights do.

6. Pack A Scarf

I happen to use a Shemagh, but sarongs work great too. This simple piece of cotton cloth is one of my most useful travel accessories with many different practical applications. It’s great for sun protection, a makeshift towel, carrying stuff around, an eye mask, and much more.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Observe Daily Life

7. Observe Daily Life

If you really want to get a feel for the pulse of a place, I recommend spending a few hours sitting in a park or on a busy street corner by yourself just watching day to day life happen in front of you. Slow down your thoughts and pay close attention to the details around you. The smells, the colors, human interactions, and sounds. It’s a kind of meditation — and you’ll see stuff you never noticed before.

8. Back Everything Up

When my laptop computer was stolen in Panama, having most of my important documents and photos backed up saved my ass. Keep both digital and physical copies of your passport, visas, driver’s license, birth certificate, health insurance card, serial numbers, and important phone numbers ready to go in case of an emergency. Backup your files & photos on an external hard drive as well as online with software like Backblaze.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Take Lots of Photos

9. Take Lots Of Photos

You may only see these places & meet these people once in your lifetime. Remember them forever with plenty of photos. Don’t worry about looking like a “tourist”. Are you traveling to look cool? No one cares. Great photos are the ultimate souvenir. They don’t cost anything, they’re easy to share with others, and they don’t take up space in your luggage. Just remember once you have your shot to get out from behind the lens and enjoy the view.

10. There’s Always A Way

Nothing is impossible. If you are having trouble going somewhere or doing something, don’t give up. You just haven’t found the best solution or met the right person yet. Don’t listen to those who say it can’t be done. Perseverance pays off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told what I want isn’t possible, only to prove it wrong later when I don’t listen to the advice and try anyway.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Smile & Say Hello

11. Smile & Say Hello

Having trouble interacting with locals? Do people seem unfriendly? Maybe it’s your body language. One of my best travel tips is to make eye contact and smile as you walk by. If they smile back, say hello in the local language too. This is a fast way to make new friends. You can’t expect everyone to just walk around with a big stupid grin on their face. That’s your job. Usually all it takes is for you to initiate contact and they’ll open up.

12. Splurge A Bit

I’m a huge fan of budget travel, as it lets you travel longer and actually experience more of the fascinating world we live in rather than waste money on stuff you don’t need. You can travel many places for $30 a day with no problems. That said, living on a shoestring gets old after a while. It’s nice (and healthy) to go over your budget occasionally. Book a few days at a nice hotel, eat out at a fancy restaurant, or spend a wild night on the town.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Keep an Open Mind

13. Keep An Open Mind

Don’t judge the lifestyles of others if different from your own. Listen to opinions you don’t agree with. It’s arrogant to assume your views are correct and other people are wrong. Practice empathy and put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Embrace different possibilities, opportunities, people, suggestions and interests. Ask questions. You don’t have to agree, but you may be surprised what you’ll learn.

14. Try Couchsurfing is a large online community of travelers who share their spare rooms or couches with strangers for free. If you truly want to experience a country and it’s people, staying with a local is the way to go. There are millions of couchsurfers around the world willing to host you and provide recommendations. It’s fun and safe too.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Volunteer Occasionally

15. Volunteer Occasionally

Make it a point to volunteer some of your time for worthwhile projects when traveling. Not only is it a very rewarding experience, but you’ll often learn more about the country and its people while also making new friends. There’s a great site called Grassroots Volunteering where you can search for highly recommended volunteer opportunities around the world.

16. Pack Ear Plugs

This should actually be #1 on the list. I love my earplugs! Muffle the sounds of crying babies, drunk Australians, barking dogs, honking horns, dormitory sex, natural gas salesmen, and more. A traveler’s best friend. These are my favorite earplugs for comfort & effectiveness.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Don’t Be Afraid

17. Don’t Be Afraid

The world is not nearly as dangerous as the media makes it out to be. Keep an eye out for sketchy situations but don’t let that be the focus of your whole trip. Use common sense and you’ll be ok. Most people are friendly, trustworthy, generous, and willing to help you out. This goes for women too. I realize I’m not a woman, but I’ve met plenty of experienced female travelers who agree.

18. Get Lost On Purpose

If you want to see the parts of town where real people live & work, you need to go visit them. The best way to do this is on foot — without knowing where you’re going. Write down the name of your hotel so you can catch a taxi back if needed, then just pick a direction and start walking. Don’t worry too much about stumbling into dangerous neighborhoods either, as locals will generally warn you before you get that far.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Eat Local Food

19. Eat Local Food

Think you already know what Mexican food tastes like? You’re probably wrong. Taste a bit of everything when you travel, especially if you don’t know what it is. Ask local people for recommendations. Eat street food from vendors with big lines out front. I’ve been very sick only twice in my travels. Don’t be scared of the food.

20. Say Yes Often

Be impulsive and say yes when someone randomly invites you to meet their family, try a new activity, or explore a place you didn’t know existed. It’s these unexpected and unplanned situations that add spice to your travels and always turn into the best stories later. Accept the kindness of strangers when you travel — you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Slow Down

21. Slow Down

Please don’t try to cram 6 countries into 6 weeks of travel. All the good stuff happens when you really take the time to explore. You’ll learn about activities that aren’t in your guidebook and meet people who are eager to show you around. I can honestly say that NONE of my best travel experiences happened within the first few days of arriving somewhere. Spend more time in fewer places for maximum enjoyment.

22. Keep Good Notes

My memory for details sucks. When I first started traveling the world 4 years ago, I didn’t keep a good journal, and now I’m regretting it. Information like the names of people I met, conversations I had, feelings about a new experience, or what a particular town smelled like. If you ever want to write about your travels, these details are handy.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

23. Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Challenge yourself to try things that normally give you anxiety. The more you do this, the more that anxiety will fade away. Not a hiker? Go on more hikes. Have trouble talking to strangers? Talk to everyone. Scared of weird food? Eat the weirdest thing you can find. The reason this works so well while traveling is because everything is already so different, what’s one more new/uncomfortable experience?

24. Don’t Plan Too Much

I cringe when readers ask how many days they should spend in a particular country or city. The truth is I have no idea what you’ll enjoy or who you’ll meet. I thought I’d rocket through Nicaragua in a week or two, but ended up living there for 4 months. My advice is to pick a starting point, 1 or 2 must-do activities, and an ending point (or not). Then just let the universe determine the rest.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Pack Less Stuff

25. Pack Less Stuff

You don’t need 1/2 the gear you think you do to travel anywhere. We’ve all done it. It’s a right of passage for travelers to slowly become better at packing less. My first backpack was 70 liters packed full, my current bag is only 38 liters. As a full-time vagabond, everything I own fits on my back. If you’re not sure about packing something, you don’t need it. It’s also possible to buy most things at your destination country if you discover you need them.

26. Listen To Podcasts

Podcasts are awesome. It’s like creating your own personal radio station and filling it with shows and music you always want to listen to. I never thought I’d actually look forward to a 10 hour bus ride. But with podcasts, it’s possible (well, as long as the seats are comfortable). Time will fly by as you listen to incredible storytelling, fun music, or interviews with experts. Here are some of my favorites: This American Life, The Moth, RISK!, Radiolab, Smart Passive Income, and Electro-Swing.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Treat Your Body Well

27. Treat Your Body Well

Travel can throw your body out of whack. When you’re moving from place to place it’s difficult to maintain a workout routine, and many of us slack off. Or we don’t sleep enough. Or we eat too many cupcakes. I’m guilty of not flossing my teeth. Remember to be nice to your body. Get enough sleep, stay hydrated, eat healthy, use sunscreen, and exercise often (check out this bodyweight routine, no gym required!). And, yes, flossing too I guess.

28. Stay In Touch

Remember to call your family & friends from time to time. Maybe surprise them and go old-school by sending a postcard (it’s in the mail, Mom!). Travel isn’t lonely, far from it. You constantly meet other people. But many of those relationships are fleeting. So maintaining a strong connection with the people who know you best is important.

My Best Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Get Off the Beaten Path

29. Get Off The Beaten Path

I know it’s cliché, but you should still attempt it. Seek out interesting and unusual places that don’t see much tourism. Many memorable travel experiences have happened to me in areas that are not easy to visit. By all means travel to popular sites, but don’t rule out other locations just because they’re not on the tourist trail. Although please realize that just because an area is remote or dangerous doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a life-changing experience.

30. Travel More

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed over the past 4 years, it’s that many people back home love to tell me how lucky I am while making excuses why they can’t travel. It’s too expensive. They can’t get time off work. Who will feed their pets? When I suggest solutions to these “problems”, they still don’t take action. Why? Because they’re often hiding behind the true reason: they’re scared.

Most people who wait to travel the world never do. You don’t need to sell all your worldly possessions and become a homeless vagabond like me. Just get out there more than you do now. Start with a weekend in a different state. Then maybe try a week in the country next door.

The new car, remodeling project, and iPhone can wait. If you truly want to travel more, you can make it happen. Career breaks are possible. You have friends who would love to watch your pets. It’s a big, beautiful, exciting, and fascinating world out there. Explore some of it now, rather than later. ★

Travel The World

Want to know how to travel the world? I’ve put together a huge page full of useful world travel resources that should point you in the right direction. Learn how I fund my adventures, how to find cheap accommodation, how to save money for travel, start a travel blog, and more.

READ NEXT: Useful Budget Travel Resources

What are some of your favorite travel tips?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.


Hi, I'm Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for over 4 years. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel more with crazy stories, photography, and useful tips from my travel adventures. Join thousands who receive exclusive email updates and click the green button below...

Comments & Questions


  1. Jessica
    March 24, 2015

    This article is great! I wrote up my top 6 last night but cool to see where people overlap! What a beautiful life!

  2. Curtis
    March 24, 2015

    My better half and my self are planning a 1year trip around the world I am interested in India the most and her in Mongolia, Is there any advice for the two you could give, We like to get lost and off the beaten path. We both like the idea of woofing :) so any places and advice would be grateful thanks

  3. Gerald
    March 20, 2015

    Great Article! I wish I had this kind of adventure. Traveling around the world and meeting amazing people with different culture.

  4. Carrie
    March 19, 2015

    Great list of travel tips that can help anyone, no matter if a weekend trip or a around the world trip.
    Recent Post: Rafting in Pacuare River Costa Rica

  5. Hannah
    March 19, 2015

    Great list, I am still working on a handful of these yet after 2 years of traveling. Pack less, don’t plan much, and patience are all things I still need to work on. Safe travels!
    Recent Post: Is Street Food Safe? – A Guide to Survive Street Food

  6. Aijika
    March 14, 2015

    Hi Matthew,

    Interesting blog, i love the way you adventurous and eat for other country.
    You inspire me to be adventurous.
    And i suggest try you to travel in asia. there’s so many good things about there.

  7. steve
    March 13, 2015

    Amazing , especially from an American, if only all your compariots acted the same. As someone who started world travelling 40 years ago, the noticeable change from most travellers has been the opposite to all you suggest. Most now seem to want a lifestyle similar to the home country rather than soak up the local culture. If there is a big mac and a coca cola they have that rather than even try the local delights. Another tip, take a silk sleeping bag liner, packs really small and keep those bugs off and cool too.

  8. Julie
    March 11, 2015

    Amazing article! So many great tips for new and experienced travelers! That’s definitely things you should do while going somewhere you don’t know. I think the most important is to be able to leave your comfort zone, stay open minded, and actually do everything to know the culture and the people.

    Thanks for these useful info!
    Recent Post: Reeperbahn

  9. Ratna
    March 10, 2015

    Should’ve done that a long time ago . Really helpful tips btw . So much tips that i havent done . Thanks broo really nice content . Really helpful
    Surfing A Globe

  10. MikesRoadTrip
    March 9, 2015

    Hey Matthew! Some great tips here…even for the experienced traveler. :-)
    Recent Post: Tubac and namesake resort captivate visitors

  11. Molly Kate
    March 3, 2015

    Great site! Looking forward to following you in the future!

  12. Ashley
    February 27, 2015

    Loved this! I’ve done a bit of traveling myself. Most recently Costa Rica for three weeks. Which was my first backpacking experience. I absolutely fell in love with it. I was used to going to all inclusive vacations and staying in these hotels that require tour guide for everything you want to see. Never again. The freedom from backpacking is Unreal. The people you meet this way and the things you see.. it can’t be beat. My goal now is to save as much money as possible for a year, sublet my apartment, and quit my job. I want to travel for as long as possible and see as much as I can. What is your advice for a woman traveling around the world solo?

    • Matthew Karsten
      March 16, 2015

      Wooo! That’s awesome Ashley. There’s nothing like that first experience to plant the seed for a lifetime of meaningful travel.

      As for traveling as a woman, I really can’t help much with that, but check out the travel blogs of my friends Jodi, Kiersten, and Kristin for tips.

  13. David
    February 22, 2015

    Very cool read. I do travel quite a bit but of course I want to travel more! Definitely have used a few of those excuses you mentioned.
    Keep it up!

  14. Luke Johnson
    February 21, 2015

    Hey this is amazing! I love this site so much, it inspires me to actually make a move to travel. But out of curiosity, I think everyone will also love this, could you maybe give some sort of quote (preferably made by you) to carry around with me? You’re inspiring enough, but I’d appreciate that a lot and, by the way, I might even get it tattooed, why not? xD

  15. Will
    February 17, 2015

    Great article Matt, you continue to inspire with your stunning pictures and epic adventures – keep up the good work!! :)
    Recent Post: How To Volunteer on a Budget

  16. Guillermo
    February 16, 2015

    Hi Matthew,
    Thanks for sharing your notes and experiences.
    I am gathering information for a Gap Year in 2016, and I am feeling pretty excited about it.
    Cheers from Buenos Aires!!

  17. Liam Stanton
    February 12, 2015

    Great pictures!

  18. cathy
    February 7, 2015

    LOVE this post! I just wandered into your site for the first time. So many excellent tips that resonate with me. I just hit county number 54!! Okay – going back in to read more : ) cheers!
    Recent Post: Recap 2014 – our most traveled year to date

  19. Vic
    February 4, 2015

    Hey Mat,

    Have you visited Philippines already? Try Coron Palawan.

    Vic ;)

    • Matthew Karsten
      February 5, 2015

      Just arrived here actually. Thanks for the tip!

      • Charles Rahm
        February 23, 2015

        Don’t miss Palawan! It truly is one of the nicest places on Earth. I skipped Coron, but just around Puerto Princesa and El Nido is beautiful enough already. :-)

  20. Uptourist
    February 2, 2015

    I got to say that I love tip #10. I needed it at times when I feel that I can’t go to place that I always wanted to visit. I guess it pays to just keep on looking for a way.
    Recent Post: 22 “Must Do Activities in Bangkok, Thailand

  21. Darby of Green Travel Antics
    January 28, 2015

    I think it’s critically important to take care of your body when traveling. It’s so easy lose track of what you’re eating when you are moving around, but it’s hard to enjoy what new places have to offer when you’re vomiting or lethargic.
    Recent Post: 11 Reasons to Avoid the Airport

  22. Charles McCool
    January 26, 2015

    Fantastic tips. Get off the beaten path, Yes! and always!
    Recent Post: 8 Great Travel Tips for Your 2015 European Vacation

  23. Nora
    January 17, 2015

    Great tips and even better photos. Keep blogging Matthew! :)

  24. Kristin of
    January 17, 2015

    Hi Matthew
    Thanks for sharing these tips. They are really good! Love your images, especially the first one.
    Recent Post: Article: 10 Things To Do In Abu Dhabi – Part 1/2

  25. Daria
    January 14, 2015

    Hi Mattew! Great tips, and thanks for recommending – surprisingly I have never passed by this useful source!

    Happy travels 2015!

  26. Damon and Jo
    January 13, 2015

    “Those people who wait to travel never will. ”

    Love that you said. It’s what we’re all about, which is why we’re often caught telling people to “shut up and go.”

  27. Mauro
    January 6, 2015

    you’re great , I like your travels and the pics in this article are stunning!!
    Big compliments!

  28. Omar
    December 29, 2014

    “I thought I’d rocket through Nicaragua in a week or two, but ended up living there for 4 months.”

    You sir, are my hero.

    You have listed everything I wanted to know, thank you. I hope someday we meet.

  29. Meera M
    December 28, 2014

    Great travel tips!!! I totally agree and Thanks for sharing!

  30. alicia
    December 27, 2014

    Hi! Thanks for great info and inspiration! For traveling/backpacking; would you choose a small laptop or a tablet with keyboard for blogging,e-mailing and saving pictures?

  31. natasha
    December 25, 2014

    Thank you for sharing your travel tips with us! I totally agree with what you wrote, people who really want to travel but never do because they are afraid. Yet, they enjoy listening to my stories wishing they had the courage to do it, such a shame.
    Best of luck and keep writting:)

  32. amant houris
    December 23, 2014

    It is very nice article & very very nice tips I wish i can in one day write an article like this. that mean I travel the world and when I finish writing the article.
    I’m from algeria

  33. Syakir
    December 15, 2014

    Wow, nice tips. It is so good for me as a newbie traveller.. Thank you so much

  34. Kris
    December 11, 2014

    I added these to my Evernote so I can read them easily on the road once in a while as a reminder!
    Thanks Matthew

  35. Priit Kaasik
    December 5, 2014

    Great tips indeed! I traveled in Northern-India few years back and one of the most interesting part of the trip was a Shimla-Manali jeep tour. The best thing about it? Landslides! Instead of staying and passing time in a roadside motel, use the time to visit off the track villages. Try to give a hand in agricultural work for example and share a drink and a snack. You’ll be likely invited to homes and you’ll get a very special experience. Carry some pictures from your home, because English may be rare, but pictures may say more than a thousand words. They will enjoy the experience as well.
    I could give some information about some special places to visit or stay in this area, but well… I didn’t take notes :(

    • Matthew Karsten
      December 18, 2014

      I agree Priit! Sharing family photos is a wonderful way to break the ice and communicate with local people, even if you can’t speak the language.

  36. Tom Farrington
    December 5, 2014

    Yes, love the bit about talking with the locals. I have been in Indonesia for a month and my favorite part so far has been talking with the local people, learning their language, and trying to communicate. I’ve learned so many inspirational and emotional stories from the people here. It changes what it means to be human, when you can interact and empathize with people from different cultures and who speak different languages.

  37. Raj
    December 3, 2014

    Wonderful write up here… Can agree much with your patient tip and keeping an open mind while on the road. Very often we expect a lifestyle on road as we get at our home place, but we have to remember the road is the best teacher in life provided we know how to deal with the situations good or bad that arises as a result of travel.

    • Matthew Karsten
      December 18, 2014

      I’ve become much more patient over the years after so much travel. Shit happens, it’s not the end of the world.

  38. Fabiana
    December 2, 2014

    Out of these the one about waking up ealy is the one I do the most, you are 100% right. The best things happen early in the morning.

  39. Daniel
    November 29, 2014

    Hi I will get penson soon I think. Im 31 and Im thinking. Why stay? No girlfrend and free. But I dont want to live like this. I want to trevel. I will get like 10000 dollar/m.

    Will I make it on this?

  40. Tara
    November 24, 2014

    What is your suggestion for dealing with pets? My hubby and I want to travel long-term but we love our cats. What solution do you suggest? Thank you!

  41. Fabio
    November 23, 2014

    Hey Matthew, how are you? (maybe “where are you” would be a more appropriate question.. ;-)

    I’m starting to plan a long budget travel and your blog has been a great source of inspiration. However there’s a little problem here: for philosophical reasons I’m vegan. No meat, cheese, eggs, nothing from animals.

    Judging by your experience, do you think I’m gonna have a hard time?

    Thanks a lot

    São Paulo, Brazil

  42. John
    November 18, 2014

    Awesome travel tips!! I hope to start traveling soon abroad, but as an American I wonder if there are some places more hostile towards Americans than others, whenever I talk to friends about this (who don’t travel though) love to tell me how much everyone hates Americans..just curious what your thoughts were on this? Any words of wisdom appreciated!!!

    • Matthew Karsten
      November 20, 2014

      It’s the same in the United States. We all have stereotypes about other nationalities. Mexican’s aren’t all cartel members, the French aren’t all rude, and Americans aren’t a bunch of gun-nuts shooting up schools. One of the best reasons to travel in my opinion is to see these differences for yourself, and prove the stereotypes wrong. However traveling extensively might give you a wake-up call that only in America do people think America is the best country in the world. You get a different view of your country looking in from the outside. In general the attitude isn’t hostile, but be prepared for a few interesting conversations from time to time.

      • John
        December 9, 2014

        Cool! Solid advice and good to hear from an experienced traveler. Thanks for taking the time to reply, appreciate it! Really enjoy the site!

  43. Wendy
    November 17, 2014

    I was completely turned off by this list when I saw “Keep an open mind” next to a photo of a cockfight. I have worked with animals (and people) rescued from this disgusting “sport” and what they’ve been through is absolutely horrifying. There is no need to keep an open mind about a practice that profits off of the torture and deaths of innocent animals. Also, in about 99% of the cockfighting cases I dealt with, drugs, guns, and human trafficking were also involved behind-the-scenes.

    • Matthew Karsten
      November 17, 2014

      That’s exactly what I mean about keeping an open mind Wendy. Just because this might be the case near you does not mean that’s the situation everywhere. These are farmers at a very popular, family friendly, completely legal, village festival in rural Nicaragua. Assuming your personal values are the most moral and everyone else is wrong, is close minded. However if you visit and talk to these people rather than assume things, I guarantee you’ll think differently. You still may not agree with it, which is fine, but please don’t blindly assume they are criminals.

      Different cultures, different laws, different values.

      • Jamie
        November 19, 2014

        Heck yes. Love this response!

      • Fabio
        November 26, 2014

        Hi Matthew. I agree with Wendy and I also was disappointed when I saw it.

        What if instead of a cockfight you find on a travel blog a picture of a black woman on a bus sitting on a seat for “colored people”, next to a caption “keep an open mind”? Should a 19th century traveler from a land with no slavery consider it a matter of opening his mind when he finally saw it?

        Yes, some things can be just wrong no matter how much popular, accepted, standard or legal they are. Some things can’t be relativised. Cockfights, bullfights, dogfights – they are nothing but torture, abuse and mistreatment of innocent beings. For me too see them for what they really are is the true mind opening stance. Not the opposite.

        • Matthew Karsten
          November 26, 2014

          So you’d rather I not show it? Because it’s ugly? I post what I see, and don’t judge people for having different views than my own. In fact I embrace the differences, and want to learn more about them. That’s what I mean about having an open mind — it doesn’t mean I support cockfighting. But I don’t preach against it either. The chicken we eat in the United States gets tortured far more than these animals do… (I hope you don’t eat chicken).

          If you’re so passionate about it though, I suggest you take more action than simply leaving comments on my blog.

          Don’t be another armchair activist Fabio! Go donate money right now to specifically help stop cockfighting. Otherwise your words here are meaningless — and you’re as guilty as I am for doing nothing to stop it.

      • Fabio
        November 27, 2014

        Indeed I don’t eat chicken. Or fish, red meat or eggs. I also don’t drink milk or eat cheese. I don’t go to zoos, rodeos, bullfights, circuses with animals. I don’t ride horses or charriots. I don’t wear leather, fur, wool. And I would never set my foot on a cockfight event (or post it). That’s my way of not supporting it. That’s my activism. I’m not an armchair activist.

        Do you keep an open mind about female genital mutilation practised by some traditions or religions? Sorry, Matt, but I don’t agree with you. Slavery didn’t end (legally) because enlightened people kept an open mind about it. Same goes for child labor, public executions, segregation. Human moral evolves exactly because people assume a critical stance about tradition instead of keeping an open mind. And the fact that it’s happening on a different culture doesn’t make it right, moral or ok. Like you I have a big respect for other cultures, but I don’t let it blur my views of right and wrong. I think cultures and differences must be embraced critically, not blindly.


        • Matthew Karsten
          November 28, 2014

          Comparing slavery and genital mutilation to watching chickens kill each other, something they do naturally anyway, is a bit of a stretch my friend. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  44. mark
    November 15, 2014

    Ever been to Paris? I’m from Philippines and haven’t visited other countries yet but I really love to go to Paris.

  45. Joan
    November 13, 2014

    Such inspiring tips! Time to start planning my next trip :)

  46. Steph
    November 12, 2014

    Wonderful blog! So inspiring!

    Do you have any tips about visa’s whilst travelling around the world? Did you buy them in advance prior to setting out?

  47. Railaddict
    November 9, 2014

    Thank you very much for this excellent article. Every single point you write is correct and inspires to organise the next trip.

  48. Jerneja Prvinsek
    November 5, 2014

    I loved your post! I’m only 17, but planning to go across the world when I finish high school. Very useful tips, thank you. I can’t wait to get out there! Keep writting

  49. Alecia
    November 4, 2014

    Great tips! Thank you for your expert advice.

  50. Brenda
    November 3, 2014

    Wonderful and very useful tips. Love your blog

  51. Frank
    November 3, 2014

    Agree with the pack less. That would be fine if it was just me travelling because my hair not much different than yours. But try convincing a Latina with nappy hair…
    I’m hoping one day to convince her to shave it off, just like that black girl did in an episode of the Amazing Race a few seasons back. Without the hair could lighten the load in the backpacks by about half.
    Frank (bbqboy)

  52. lozzie
    November 3, 2014

    you’ve helped me a lot, thank you! seriously!


  53. lily
    October 30, 2014

    Really useful tips thanks Matthew

  54. Jacob
    October 26, 2014

    hey man,

    love your site, its in my top 3 favorite travel blogs. in december i was planning on traveling to nicaragua and costa rica( first time traveling :D). I noticed how you said you ended up staying in nicaragua for 4 months instead of the planned 2 weeks. I have a somewhat similar mindset in where i don’t want to plan too much (though i won’t be bringing a laptop so writing down hostels is essential). but the hostels i have looked at all say to reserve a spot when i went on their websites. Do the hostels down there actually require this? or is it just a mere suggestion?

    • Matthew Karsten
      November 17, 2014

      It’s a suggestion. If the place you want is full, there will almost always be something else nearby. The hostel just wants you to stay with them, not a competitor. So of course they’ll say book something now. You don’t need to.

  55. okinyi
    October 24, 2014

    Hello guys! I’m from Tanzania in Africa i warmly invite you all to come and explore the beautiful places as well as historical sites. Tanzania is full of honest and kind people you will enjoy to travel in my country!

    • Jenny
      November 4, 2014

      #1 place on my list! When’s the best weather? And the national park – when is it open?
      thank you

  56. Bern
    October 23, 2014

    just followed you on instagram! wow, you are inspiring!

  57. Sophi Medren
    October 18, 2014

    Hey Matthew,
    These traveling tips are really amazing. I am planning for a world tour with my friends that time we are definitely considering above mentioned points for making our travel memorable.

  58. Motasim Billah Hunney
    October 13, 2014

    thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks…….. your blog is the most useful travel site I visited ever….. please keep writing….

  59. Margaret Ellis
    October 8, 2014

    Really like your posts. My husband, dog, and I are retired (I am 71) and after years of winter vacations, we are spending 6 months driving around Mexico. Good for you for getting an early start.

    • Matthew Karsten
      October 9, 2014

      That’s wonderful Margaret! You are going to love Mexico. One of my favorite countries by far. Have fun!

  60. Fateme
    October 6, 2014

    Wow,Your tips are extremely great .Take enormous enjoyment of your travel

  61. Jake Ryan
    September 26, 2014

    Good Post. Agree with them all.

  62. Jackie
    September 25, 2014

    My question is…any suggestions on navigating around when English is not present?

  63. Sterling
    September 24, 2014

    Really helpful and insightful post. I’m a 43-yr old father of 5 and we’ll be embarking on an ‘RTW’ trip commencing in November. We’re RTW virgins so every bit of useful info that we can ingest is like nutrition for the body. Perhaps we’ll meet in our travels. We’ll be starting a travel blog too so your blog is helpful in more ways than one. Thanks and keep sharing.

  64. Samantha Cannon
    September 18, 2014

    Hi I’m only 13 and I really want to travel this has helped me a lot .Keep writing .thank you

  65. Eka Zahra
    September 14, 2014

    Hi Matthew, it’s a good article for travelers… thank you for sharing your tips… keep writing… :)

  66. Kelly
    September 12, 2014

    I found your blog today and am really enjoying reading it. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it and especially for the laundry post! Kelly

  67. Richard
    September 12, 2014

    Like your posting. I”ve started traveling in my 60’s a little long in the tooth but have the time of my life. Should have sold out years ago. Keep up the writing Richard

  68. Trine-Marie
    September 1, 2014

    I love this post! And I agree with just about everything. I wish I’d read this before my 6 week road trip across the US. It was my first long trip, and I see lots of room for improvement. Especially when it comes to packing…

    • Matthew Karsten
      September 2, 2014

      Glad you liked it Trine-Marie, packing is something we all get better with the more we have to do it.

  69. Emma Mills
    August 11, 2014

    Hey Matthew. I am so happy I found this site, it has truly insipired me! I am leaving Essex, England in just two days to go out to Austrailia with an open ticket. I have no idea what to expect and I am not totally sure how I feel about it all either, but for once I just know I have faith in myself to go and make the most of it, because that’s all I can do.
    But seriously, stumbling upon your site has made me more confident in thinking how this will pan out.
    Although I am only staying in one country, unlike what you did which from what I can see was incredible! But, I am only 18 and it’s my first time traveling alone, so I think Austrailia will be big enough for me to start off with.
    P.s. I am going shopping today to go and get myself a scarf !!

  70. itchy feet traveler
    August 4, 2014

    Embracing failure and learning to love every bit of it will bring you the greatest inexplicable happiness!!!!

    Thanks for the great post :)


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