My 30 Best Travel Tips After 4 Years Traveling The World

Favorite Travel Tips

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.

It all started when 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 I first left. 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 to make travel a priority in your life.

Feel free to share your own 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.

READ MORE: 15 Common Travel Scams

Favorite Travel Tips

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 rest 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.

READ MORE: How To Protect Your Money Traveling

My Best Travel Tips

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 also work great. 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.

I can’t tell you how many times a scarf has come in handy around the world.

My Best Travel Tips

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

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

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 allows you to travel longer and actually experience more of the fascinating world we live in rather than waste your hard-earned money on stuff you don’t need. In fact you can travel many places for $50 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

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. Expensive hotels are not the only option, there are all kinds of cheap travel accommodation options out there.

My Best Travel Tips

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.

READ MORE: My Complete Travel Gear Guide

My Best Travel Tips

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 exactly 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

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.

READ MORE: The Food Traveler’s Handbook

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.

My Best Travel Tips

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. These days I use an incredible note-taking app called Evernote, which I use as my 2nd brain. So useful for all kinds of applications — from planning trips to journaling about them later.

My Best Travel Tips

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

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

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

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.

Unfortunately 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 More

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 flights, how to save money for travel, how 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.


  1. All those points make so much sense. I just returned from a 3 day all-girls trip to a hillstation and had I not gone, I don’t think I would have understood this post in its entirety. I just went for three days, and I think the universe has revealed so much. And you’ve been out there for more than 1460days… Now that is something I cant really fathom. Just yet!
    Great blog.

  2. This was awesome to read! I especially loved the part about laughing at yourself. It’s taken me a long time to learn how to do that in the face of being flustered or overwhelmed or doing something stupid. Thanks for sharing and for writing such great tips and lessons learned!

  3. Hello
    My friend John i thankfully for your help in making a difference travel tips.
    I love to travelling the world, but I don’t know how to get do this, please inform me travelling jobs.

  4. These tips cover the things that many of us tend to overlook when we travel. My favorite tips from the list are the importance of meeting local people and taking down notes while on the road. I think the most vital thing about traveling is immersing ourselves in local culture – even if you just have dinner in a local home for one night, or stop for a chat with a street vendor. These interactions with locals is what makes a trip truly meaningful and life-enriching, and you should always carry a notebook to take down the little details; what they looked like, how they spoke, what they were wearing and any interesting facts about their lives.

  5. Hello, Matthew. Your post is really awesome. The way you write and describe your adventures is very inspiring. I also launch my own travel blog. I spend a lot of time on your website learning how to enhance my blogging style and skills. Thank you very much!

  6. Hi Matthew,
    Wow, you have been travelling for 4 years, quite a motivating thing especially for me as I want to travel the world like you.

    I also have a travel blog.
    Can you share me as to from where I should start my journey?
    I live in India

    Your response will be appreciated.


    1. Well said Chloe,
      This cock fighting business thrives in some of the villages and hamlets of India as well.

      Although, government does occasionally put a ban on it, yet it still finds its existence few months later. Sad indeed.

      As humans we should be sensitive enough towards these cute little birds.

  7. Such a long list of useful and effective travel tips. I love your points…..I am sure following these wonderful tips will enable me to enjoy my next travels better and make completely hassle-free….Thank you very much for such a resourceful post….:)

  8. Wow! I didn’t see your blog before and I’m impressed… I’m still working to buy my freedom some day. Thanks for being such an inspiration. I will never forget: STASH EXTRA CASH… haha!

  9. I started traveling more often recently and I think those are great tips for people on a trip whether they have a tight budget or lots more money to spend.

  10. I’ve only been reading your blog for the past couple of days but it has become my bible! I’m a Venezuelan in her late twenties trying to overcome all the “obstacles” that don’t let me take the big leap. Work, career, money, you’re right, in the end it’s only fear!, (although money can be a real pain in the A$%) I’m living in Argentina ATM but I’m planning to start my journey as a traveller soon by going to the country side. I’d like to get a good camera first (any recommendations for absolut beginners btw?) . Keep the good posting mate! I love your blog! =)

    1. Yes JS.

      That is actually the dreadful pic of cock fighting which are actually made to fight by their respective owners in lure for money.
      Most of the times, there is a blade tide on the feathers of cock and they are forced to start fighting by inciting one another through pecking which finally enrage each other to put on a full show of might and power.
      Sad indeed

  11. I have found every one of these things to be so very true in my travels, as well. Couchsurfing, being unafraid, and observing daily life resonate especially strongly with me. I love that you started in Guatemala City — I just got back from there last night!

  12. Great list! I also love to travel and I have to agree with most of your travel tips. My way of traveling is just little bit different, as I am traveling on really low budget and all I need for one yea of traveling is something like 3000€.
    I love hitch-hiking and that is my advice. Try to travel this way and you will have incredible experiences with local. In some countries like Iran you can travel in 50€ per month and have always full stomach and meet so many nice people…

    Also your packing in 38l backpack is pretty easy as you are not sleeping in tent. But I have to agree, that it is really not needed to have too much stuff with you, as many people are traveling with.

    Good luck and see you maybe once somewhere in the world. :)

  13. I would add this as a sub-category: travel as much as possible by bus or by train. Maybe by hiring car rides locally, if you’re really gutsy. But there’s nothing like mass transportation as a way to get face-to-face with the people of the place. I’ve had incredible travel experiences this way. My advice for newbies: If you’re just starting out on a big travel adventure, start by booking your first tix online at a 3rd party seller like Then, when you’ve dipped your toes in and want more spontaneity, book at local rail and bus companies on the ground.

  14. All these tips are practical and yet sometimes forgotten. Thanks for sharing them. I’m a new traveler and just Started my journey visiting 5 countries now since November 2015. I visited UAE, Kingdom of Bahrain, Hongkong, Nepal and India and I want to travel more and more. I’m currently working in an oil & gas company here at the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, miles and miles away from home in the Philippines. I’m entitled to an annual vacation of 45 days, so I planned to spend most of these days travelling to different countries. Travelling really show us what the real world is, I wish to do it full – time but still can’t afford to get go of my job..

  15. 10 and 30 are my favorite!

    The best way is to stop listening to people who say “Oh, you cant do this!It is too difficult!” :D Especially advices from people who stay at home :)

    Loved this post, good advices)
    And people, just dont be scared to leave your house! World is much more welcoming than the one on the news :D

    1. I agree with you Lilia,

      The best way to indulge in happiness and fun is to overlook what others have to say and be confident of yourself.

      Yes, that gives you a chance to love yourself all the way to the core. After all, we should enjoy such moments as they will never come back again. They often become best found memories which we keep through photos and videos.

  16. MATTHEW hello, how are you? hope so fine. my name is Pedro Henrique and I am Brazilian. I am studying English and your site is helping me a lot! Through grammar, and also by the rich texts, photos, and their way of speaking and writing these wonderful places. I am grateful for this rich contribution that is giving me. I will continue watching you. a big hug.


  17. Great tips on traveling. I would also add that learning some basic words for the places you visit really means a lot to the locals. Even if pronunciation is off, at least they know you are trying.

  18. This is by far one of the most comprehensive lists of traveling tips anyone can take advantage of. I love all of them especially the tip #9 and #19: taking a lot of photos and eating the local food. Thank you so much for providing such an awesome article.

  19. This post gave me goose bumps! You are completely right when you say that most people only have excuses when it comes to being able to travel. I sure am one of them. But I am doing my research to hopefully be able to travel some more soon. Thank you so much for this blog post. It was so very helpful! Thank you, thank you, thank you

  20. You’ve missed one of the most important tips: Pack a corkscrew in your luggage for France…the wine in supermarkets is often good and cheap…but they all have corks. And supermarkets dont always have corkscrews.

  21. Great article! Haha I’m sitting here laughing to myself because some of these tips would have helped me if I stumbled across your blog earlier!! I’ll definitely make use of them moving forwards though.

    I’ve just got into blogging myself as I’m on a, very slow, world tour. I would love if you checked it out and let me know what you think.

    All the best and I look forward to more posts.

  22. before go to travel ảound the world you need come to Vietnam and enjoying the food, landscape and meet everybody in there. So peaceful!

  23. So many amazing tips you have. My favorite is #21, slow down. I definitely need to listen to this tip as I am always looking for the next place to go and next activity to come! Thanks for sharing all your tips!

  24. Hello Mr. Matthew Karsten.

    I am Japanese. But I live in Germany now. I was very impressed with your blog. Today I am very happy to read your blog. Someday I’d like to travel around the world like you. Actually in japan, there are very few people who travel around the world like you.

  25. i like #29 the most. It’s always great to discover new places, not just to visit the same tourist attractions that everyone else has already seen. Locals are always a great source for hidded gems when it comes to finding such places.

  26. I really love this article. You are a good traveller, amazing story teller and a photographer. I just love the way you post travel related articles. Thank you for your post.

  27. hey, Mat !
    I am so happy to explore your amazing and exciting travel story !
    You’re not simply a Traveler, you’re a tremendous story teller and creative person ;-)
    Your travel story just amazing.
    I will wait for your new story.

  28. What an amazing list! I love hearing your thoughts and would love to know more about what you’ve done with a scarf! LOL! You have me wondering now about the ‘duct tape’ of travel stuff. I always bring earplugs along though I have to admit they aren’t that comfortable. Love the photography as well. I’m working to improve mine.

  29. Hi! I am doing a school project on traveling the world. I was hoping you could tell me about the places you stayed at… I am planning on traveling the cheapest way possible! Thank you so much

  30. Solid advice all around, I’ve come to many of the same conclusions from my own, sadly much more limited travels. Good to see those may hold up as I get more travel under my belt and more ink in my passport!

  31. Well written article with great advice. Wish I could travel like you, but I am in poor health which is why we purchased the place in PEI (see other post). But seeing your website makes me feel as if I’m living vicariously though you – very cool. And I do agree about doing things outside your comfort zone. Even though it is only Canada, my husband and I have had a few moments like that on the Island (we’re from Mobile, AL) but we just laugh and join in the fun. And absolutely, get up for the sunrises! It will cleanse your soul!

    1. There’s nothing wrong with going on travel adventures in Canada! Or even the state next door. The key is getting out there in the first place, and experiencing somewhere new. The distance doesn’t really matter.

  32. Would love a travel tip on how to avoid the person sitting in front of you on a plane from leaning their seat back as far as possible, thereby invading your personal space. I have found that speaking loudly (enough to be overheard) to the person next to you about claustrophobia does not help. I have never done this to another passenger, just because I am considerate, but how to avoid this situation in the future would be useful.

  33. Earplugs are indeed a great thing to bring with you on any vacation or any amount of traveling you do. Some places can get very loud and disruptive. If you want to enjoy something without the noise, then they are good.

  34. Nice article about travel tips. I like your tips specially #24. You spent a lot of time writing this article. Good job.

  35. I agree with your points here but… that scorpion!!! I agree eating local food is a great experience of travel, not sure if I ever will have the courage to eat that. :P :)

  36. Matthew.. I love you and your writings. Love the tips and agree so much on the point of permanent nomadic life. Not necessarily needed. Just get out there and go! :)

  37. An inspiring post to get out there and really view the world with less fear. It’s all about the open-minded and approachable experience. Love this! Thanks, Matt!

  38. Great tips, Matt! It’s always inspiring to read blog like yours and learn from your incredible experience. I particularly agree on the scarf, the earplugs and some good podcast while traveling (and maybe a good book from time to time!)

    Keep up the good writing, hope to meet you on the road!

  39. I tend to agree to most of the points. I am an avid traveler myself. And have been traveling the world for last 7-8 years. I will say I drew pretty much the same conclusion. There is nothing like travelling to open your mind to the treasures of the world. I hope I read this 5 years ago, still good points!

  40. Your tips were very useful. I agreed with most of them! Particularly the 10th tip which says that there is always a way. You may be staying at the right hotel and may hire cabs to go around the destination, there could be a time when you are completely stuck. Even then, don’t fret. A polite smile and “please” will go a long way in helping you resolve whatever issue you may be having. Remember, the locals can probably help you more than anyone else. So, it would be great to find out something about the local culture and people even before you get out for your destination.

    1. One of my favorites too. Complaining about a crappy situation never helps, instead, find ways to improve it. This is one of the biggest examples of “reverse culture shock” I get when returning to my home country.

      Everyone seems to be complaining about things that are pretty trivial.

  41. One of the greatest blog post I have ever read. Besides, I am stunned by the beauty of the photos. Colours are such vivid and nice. Thanks for this inspiring post Matt. Cheers, Serhat from Istanbul.

  42. I’m always so happy about your posts, they’ve turned out to be so helpful so (!) many times!
    I’m starting light and will go on my first trip around the world in April for 3 months.

  43. Some great tips here for travelling. Very jealous that you’ve been away for such a long time – i’d love to do a big adventure like this at some point. I agree with you that most people talk and dream about traveling but few actually pluck up the courage to go. I hope I don’t fall into the category!

  44. Matthew, my husband and I have recently decided we are selling everything and going to travel the world. We have started to plan on what we want to do and see and have no time limit on it. I would love if you could help us out on maybe where to start in the world? With so many places all at once we have clue where to start and how to go about it once we are there? Any suggestions!

  45. These are some great tip, some times we don’t really pay attention to the little details but your advice about observing daily life is very true. by doing that, we will for sure learn new things in life.
    Thank you for sharing.

  46. It takes a lot of guts to sell out everything you have just to travel the world!

    I agreed upon each and every point as I read through it. The most important point was to get out of comfort zone. After traveling to a new place, I have often found myself not willing to go out of the hotel! I just feel too lazy or in a not-willing-to-go-out mood. I figured out that I was not very comfortable to go out and speak to new people or roam around alone on the streets. I thought I would look stupid! Your statement “you will definitely look like a fool” has perfectly nailed my fear. I will now try be comfortable with “looking foolish” so that I can make most out of my journeys!

    Thanks! Keep writing!

  47. My favorite travel tip is this:

    NEVER use a hotel room safe…

    Believe it or not, the secret 4-digit pin number of most hotel safes is all ones or all zeros.

    (And most on the hotel staff knows this.)

    Avoid storing valuables in hotel safes – it is not safe at all. Better option: ask to use the safe near the hotel’s front desk.

    1. Very good idea. The one and only time my brother used a hotel safe at all, and he has done some extensive travelling, and it was burgled. Lost a very expensive camera; only thing he was concerned about enough to put in the safe.

  48. Awesome tips Matthew, Thanks! In our mid 50’s wife and I are living in Istanbul for about 10 months, maybe more. Already wondering how in the world can we “go back” to the great american dream which is so empty in so many ways. Two of my favorite quotes are…. 1 from Mr. Mark Twain, “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” And the 2nd one, and more important one for me is “Love your neighbor as yourself”. I have to wonder how differently the world would look, how much less hate there would be and less fences built IF we all just took Jesus last words to heart when He said, “Go into all the world!”

  49. Hi Matt. I was enjoying your writing up until I came upon the photo of the cockfight and your suggestion of “keeping an open mind.” Truly, as related to this photo, I think that suggestion SUCKS!!! Whether it’s cockfights or bullfights or dogfights or whatever other disgusting, barbaric, insensitive way some humans decide to amuse themselves at the expense of other living creatures, well, the lot of it is reprehensible.

    1. And you’re entitled to your opinion Marie. Just keep in mind that Americans freely engaged in these activities once too, it’s only now with our wealth and relative life of leisure that we look back and say how backwards it was. The citizens of Nicaragua and other 3rd world nations will come to these conclusions for themselves when they are ready. Not because a bunch of privileged 1st world countries tell them they’re doing it wrong. THAT is what I mean by keeping an open mind.

      For example: American health care and gun laws are also disgusting & barbaric compared to the world at large. Never assume your country & its people are morally superior.

      1. Matthew, I never had a sense of who you were until I read this article. Your response to Marie is exactly the kind of response I would have given. Interacting with locals and their customs allows for a greater understanding of their culture and helps to establish a new world view and impact upon ones own belief systems. Different cultures are what makes this world so great. History has shown us that when one culture thinks it’s better than another it just leads to persecution. I respect you for being a child of the Earth and not a child of wherever you were born. Your view is refreshing in a world where there are far too many “travelers” and top travel bloggers who are more like tourists traveling from country to country without an appreciation for the cultures they visit.

    2. There you go.. The typical judgemental response which will limit your experiences.. You dont have to attend…

      Travel is about experiencing how the rest of the world lives and dies…. You may not agree with everything you see but you will have great stories, and great photos as well as points of discussion.. Leave your opinions until you get home and are sitting on the footpath in your favourite coffee shop sipping a late…

  50. Amazing blog you`ve got, and great tips! I love to travel and I`ll definitely travel around the world some day. I am 18 years old so I`m still in high school, but I have started with traveling as much as possible. This year I went to California with my friend on a language trip, and that was an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. I wrote in a diary every day there, and I don`t regret it because it makes me think of the small details that I would`ve forgotten if I didn`t write it down.

    In 2013, my friend and I also were on a language trip to Bournemouth, England. We stayed to a host family (an old couple), which was great. I felt that we got to know the country and the culture better than if we had stayed at a campus/hotel. Plus it was amazing to get to meet new people. We both still write letters to them (they don`t use social media), and we`re going to visit them in 2016.

    Anyway, when I`m done with my studies, I`ll be ready to buy a one way ticket out of the country (Norway) and start my adventure. When I tell about this to people, they always laugh and say that it`s impossible for me to do that. But I don`t agree with them, just look at you. You and your blog inspire me very much, and it makes me even more excited about this!! :D

    I just wonder, I have you ever been to Norway?

  51. Great tips bro, I love to travel. I want to get out from my comfort zone and become a better traveller.

    American and European people are a little more lucky… you can visit 200 countries visa free, with longer term stay.. it’s also a great thing. Anyway good luck for all future travellers.. remember these travel tips!

  52. These are some amazing tips! I’ve just hit 5 years abroad and would absolutely agree with all of them, although I’ve found that no matter how long I travel for I still have too much stuff in my backpack!

  53. Fantastic tips! I always try local things. Some people said that if it is local it is bad that is the reason why it stays local. I don`t agree at all. I have tried amazing things during my journeys. Greetings!

  54. What a fantastic list. You covered practically every area there. No.18 was once a great thrill to me. Sadly, age made me freak out every time I get lost nowadays. Thanks for reminding me about the joys of it.

  55. Wow, great post. nr 9: take lots of photos, I found that after traveling for more than 1 year I started to take less and less photos… for us this was a sign we’d traveled enough for while… things started to be less interesting to us. I wonder how people can stay so enthusiastic and travel for 4 years! Will definately have to read more on this blog. :)

  56. Great tips, I want invite you to come to Indonesia because I have plan travelling still indonesian like the bali, pulau komodo, raja ampat and lombok.

  57. These tips are great for a traveler like me. I will agree with the tip that states “Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone”. This is what I am facing right now. I had lot of fears before but as I started traveling, I know how to face it right now. Traveling is one of the key on how I faced my fears. It is not not easy but I am sure that it really contributed a lot.

  58. Excellent read. I always enjoy to read tips from experienced travelers. The one from above that really stood out for me is #4: “Stash some extra cash!” This is so crucial when visiting places outside the US. With cash being almighty, it can get you out of a jam if you have it on you. Thanks for sharing with us!

  59. Great tips! so many of these tips are sooo important and often get forgotten. I can’t even pick my favourite because they’re so good. I started a travel blog recently so I might borrow some of your hints but will be sure to link back to you :)

  60. For the person who has such a big travel experience I’ll recommend Armenia, a country of ancient history, traditions and Christianity. You will discover for yourself many interesting facts about history.

  61. Hello Matthew im happy for you enjoying the world, I wish I can one day I should I say I wish I know where to start, I can just get up off my ass and go but not sure where to began, I tell myself where why who I’m going to go visit, not Afraid sleeping out side I lived in the street for 6 months and it was hard, now I am able to visit life I’m asking myself how come I did not just visit the world, #17 would be a great way to say go out and do it,

  62. I love tip #15! I think that is such a great idea. My wife and I want to start traveling more often to see the world. Volunteering in the countries we visit sounds like a perfect way to get a better understanding of the culture and characteristics of the locals. Thanks for the awesome idea, we’ll definitely put it to good use.

  63. AirBnB is pretty similar to couch surfing if that’s a little too much for you. It isn’t free to rent, but you can find cheap accomodations in somebody’s spare bedroom or guesthouse, or entire apartments or houses. Cheaper than most hotels and the host will usually give you good recommendations and maybe take you around town or introduce you to people.

  64. This is indeed one of the best list. I really like so many of them, wake up early, pack less, meet local people and specially “There is always a way”.
    Thank you so much for such an amazing list.

  65. Good advice. I just finished my 3rd around the world trip. A little under 3 years. Needed to comeback and see my family and go to the dentist. Slow and steady is how I travel. Now with free phone calls and no cost photos it is a lot easier. Next the Silk Road. Overland cost around 10k for 100 days. That is what has stopped me but I want to go to every country in the world so any advice would be nice. Great advice thanks

  66. Excellent post! Every single point I was nodding my head. I don’t have ear plugs though, so maybe I’ll look into tha . I normally just put in head phones and play music. And I Love the last one the most of course!

  67. Hello Matt! I’m a teenage girl, and your photos have really inspired me to travel! Would you mind if I put a few up on my blog? If not, that’s totally okay! ☺

  68. Thanks for this post, Matt! I am currently working in the beginning stages of planning my own 1 year trip around the world, and I can’t wait to read what else you have learned on your travels!

  69. This is such a great post. I love your advice and I must say I follow most of it already – particularly the earplugs one. I even wear them when I am not travelling at times.

    And oh, stopping a chicken bus to pee. I should have done that in Nicaragua once. Instead I almost killed myself and peed myself (gross) and waited till the bus got to the station. I had to RUN then!

  70. I love #20 you get some fun adventures with that. Learning do drive tuk-tuk in Ella the mountains in Sri Lanka.

    Then they day after the two locals decided that they wanted to walk Adams Peak with us, we got the true local experience on why it is so important for them to take this walk up the mountains and saying thank you to Buddha.

    Yes, let´s do it, let´s go – Let´s have an adventure.

  71. What wonderful advice and while our readers mode of travel is motorcycle this advice transcends all modes and we are happy to share this page on our travel link section. I couldn’t have put it better myself, obviously or I would have!

    Inspiring stuff Matt.

  72. Hey, I’m planing to go on a trip first to Spain for the 3rd time, and then…who knows!? The problem is that I don’t have a companion.

  73. Just finished a six-month trip to four countries. I did a lot of reading in the couple of years before I took off, and I seriously think this is the best list of travel tips I’ve ever seen – especially after having done an extended trip myself. (And I’ll be sharing with those who followed my trip on FB, for sure!) Well done!

  74. I live in Iran,I am Persian not arab,we have country with the old culture,we have a lots ancient place to visit,its my pleasure to help some body how wants to come here

    1. Hi Mona,
      I am planning on visiting Iran in close future. I didn´t make a plan on where I want to go yet, maybe you can advise me where its best to go.
      Hope to hear from you.

  75. Awesome blog Matthew, I would love to travel in South America. I am gonna follow your tips thanks for sharing.

  76. Good points. I just booked my RTW trip. I’m choosing to pack 5 countries in 2 weeks and to do it again just taking a different route. I like the hustle and bustle of going on an airplane and discovering new places and people and then pressing repeat again in another couple of months. Loving life.

  77. So glad I found you on twitter and discovered your blog. These tips are great!

    I have handed my notice in at work, rented out my flat and will be off on an adventure round the world at the end of August! So excited to go travelling. Will be blogging about it too and I definitely agree with your point about the journal – I found my travel diary from when I went to Thailand 6 years ago recently and it’s amazing how much your mind changes over the years. I felt transported back to my 19 year old self!

  78. Great to read
    I would agree with all your points I went around the world
    in 2003/4 it was as good and as easy just the way u told it.
    Going again this year but calling to other country.I loved it
    very much bye for now

  79. Hey Matt – I just realized that you put a lovely link in this article to me…thanks so much! I’m not sure exactly when your 4 year anniversary was – but a big congrats!!! Keep going!

  80. As an animal advocate/ vegan/ normal person, I think it’s disgusting to post a picture of a cock fight as an example of experiencing different cultures and hypocritical/ comical to then give advice on being empathetic. “Keep an open mind: Practice empathy and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.” How about you practice some empathy and put yourself in the rooster’s shoes. Abusing animals by forcing them to fight is NOT being adventurous, it’s barbaric. Since I see you biting the head off a murdered scorpion, I’m guessing you probably don’t care about the lives of those poor roosters either. It’s also sad that you financially support these horrific events in other countries when we’re trying to end them in our own and then suggest it to others. It’s a serious disservice to steer people in this direction and an even bigger disservice for the abused animals.

    1. In this instance I’m putting myself in the shoes of another human, not my delicious lunch meat. Chickens don’t use shoes.

      This is a very poor village’s cheap source of entertainment in a life full of hardships. If they want to let chickens fight each other before they eat them, who am I to judge?

      However I’m sure they’d trade in the entertainment of chicken fights for the privilege of typing blog post comments on computers or smartphones if they could. Maybe you can help them see the light and donate yours?

      Also, please remember that plants are living things too.

      1. As someone currently saving for a big travel I thought this article was great (especially the photography!). But this response might be the best part of it. Very eloquently put, keep it up!

    2. Good on you.It is nice to see that you are taking as it comes .Tere is no point going places if one is judgmental . People, culture, tradition are part
      of each country and do you like it or not they are not going to change so
      the best thing is enjoy the journey and do not take to heart things that you
      can not change…otherwise stay home .

  81. Hi Matthew, thanks for all those advice! By the way I’m 46 I still feel young, am I too old? Need your thoughts on that, but I really keep in shape, I feel that is time for me to do the move!
    Thanks for your reply,

    1. Not at all Marcel! You’re never too old to see the world. I’ve hung out with some great people in their 60’s on the road, some using backpacking hostels too.

      Mark Twain put it best:

      “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

  82. Awesome tips, Matt! I really enjoy your posts, especially the “whats in my backpack” and the Sak Yant tattoo post. I really thinking about taking a trip through central and south america either on a motorcycle or just flying there and take the rest of the journey by foot like you do. In your experience, what are the pros and cons of either one? I would really would like your thoughts of the matter.
    Thank you for your time,

  83. Great list. As a life-long traveler (often solo), I’m surprised by friends who ask how I do it. I tell them it’s easy: choose adventures before things. Yes, I have a 15-year old car, and my kitchen cabinets look like the kind they take hammers to on home improvement shows, but I’ve racked up 35 countries and 49 states so far, and don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

    The other excuse I hear from them is that they would travel, but airline travel is so unpleasant, blah blah blah. My ancestors came to the US on long ocean voyages, then traveled to the west in wagons. WAGONS. I can put up with an uncomfortable seat for 10 hours–with a book in one hand and a cocktail in the other.

  84. Thanks for sharing these tips. #30 you nailed it not only those who continuously giving excuses are scared to explore the world, travel definitely is not in their top priority list. I have so many friends keep saying they love to travel but do not have enough money for flight ticket. Surprisingly, they always splurge on branded bags, shoes, watches and clothes like they going to open a factory outlet someday.

    Observe daily life is also a great tip, like get into the train during morning rush hours is quite an experience one must try when in Japan.

  85. Hi there,
    I just stumbled upon your blog, and it’s amazing! Are the opportunities the same if two are travelling together?
    My boyfriend and I have started roadtripping USA, last year we did the east coast this year the west coast (we are from Denmark – you should visit :), and we have found that we love life most when we travel! Do you have an idea of doubling a one-person travel budget should do the trick when travelling two?

    Love your blog,
    Best regards Camilla

  86. I find this so ironic that a non-australian can come into Australia and call us drunks!!! We are not all drunks and sure we have heaps of bogans but not everyone is. The “drunk Australians” comment really hits home with me, not sure why… But the fact that you did not mention anyother country… mabey you should not come to Australia if you cant handle the small portions of alcholics. On your behalf what a discriminating comment!!! I bet you didnt know that Australia has approx. 12 to 15 countries before it for alcohol consumption. So you clearly have not travelled all that much.

    1. I’ve never been to Australia, it’s just an observation from the many Australian travelers I’ve met. They party a bit harder than the rest! Don’t take it personally, it’s just a stereotype. While obviously not true for all, there is a bit of truth. Same with the stereotype that American travelers are loud & obnoxious. :-)

      1. Aha true true just wanted to see how you handled confrontation because in all honesty we are a land of drunks and bogans! Love your blog. Some great tips.

      2. Unfortunately it is only the “loud and obnoxious” ones that we tend to notice; hence the stereotyping. Some people just do not pick up social cues that easily … how I wished I had taken earplugs, of some form, with me when I was woken up with an American traveller speaking very loudly (unnecessarily) to a hostess on a plane … must have been around 3am too.

  87. Stumbled across your blog by accident. Your tips were a refreshingly different and reminder that there’s a whole wide world out there with vast experiences just waiting to be uncovered. I’m planning a big trip in Sept – first big one in 15 years. I’ll be leaving my husband and teenage kids behind and felt guilty about that, but your blog just reassured me I’m doing the right thing. At 46 I just can’t wait around until the ‘right’ time anymore. Take care and safe travels to all.

  88. Great post Matthew. Really enjoyed the tips. Just recently got back from Belgium and toured every city but Brussels the local way! I had a blast and made tons of new connections. Travel is a lot more fun when you travel the
    “local way”.

  89. Excellent post! Thank you for the tips and for taking the time to share your experiences. I find them inspiring, as I have always wanted to be an explorer and travel the world. I’m American and find many of my colleagues to be very close-minded and only able to regurgitate the negative stereotypes that our media spoon feeds us. I’ve never been one to take someone else’s word for it, even if it meant learning the hard way, I’ve always had to find out the truth for myself. It’s people like you that give me hope. Keep doing what you do and if you ever want a sidekick, I’d gladly join you in your journeys!

  90. Hey!

    Really loved reading your tips! I’m from the UK and went away as a solo traveler and met my soul mate in Denmark now we are planning a year away together travelling! quick note … I am female and found it no problem travelling alone, I just always made sure to act confident! Don’t let any fear hold you back! there is lovely people all over the world! Try not to read negative stories before you go away … I read about Barcelona and was not looking forward to going at all, i stayed for nearly 3 weeks and adored it!

  91. Enjoyed your list. I first took off from UK back in ’80. Very, very memorable year. I have travelled to a lesser extent ever since. I never fully returned to “mainstream” – but I never cut the cord either. My additions would be:
    See the sights and leave the internet communications for wasted time in airport lounges or a lonely evening.
    Take a good book – sometimes its an intro.
    Never forgot friends back home. Try and repay favours or pass them on. Its a small world now but always evolving – this year my Peruvian wife and I stayed on a boat in Malaysia with a Kiwi and his Aussie wife, who I met in 1980 …. in Nepal. He lent me $25 back then (before knowing me) – it paid for a trip to Everest base camp.
    Trying to decide whos genuinely helpful, whos helpful but is hoping to earn a crust at the same time, and whos a scammer – deserves another article.

  92. Been travelling a long time.. and you are certainly on point.. I enjoyed reading. It’s clean, your points and tips. And the sarong I have been carrying for a long time. I’ve lost a few.. but I still have one left… they are super handy. Much better than those little dry-fast towels.

  93. hi man
    i am so glad that about your information in trip and its necessary to each person that want to travel to each part of the world.i can,t travel to every place .the reason is government .but i hope that one day i see travel to iran .it,s a good ,beautiful and cheap place for traviling! have a good time!
    with best wishes

      1. hi matthew
        i am so glad that u can see my pm! as a mater of fact is this that iran is beautiful and big ! u can see four season in my country and the people are very kind about tourist!i hope that one day i see u in tehran!and speak more about it!north is green! center is beautiful desert ! east and west is mountain!and south is full of water!come to iran and enjoy more!my tell is +989127791811 i guide u man! be luck!

      2. Hello,
        I visited Iran few months back with my friends. We were in a group of 6 and six of us were from six different countries.(I am from Nepal) Frankly speaking, when I said I am going to Iran, my friends said “come back alive” because people often hear about terrorism and bad things about Iran. I can confidently tell that Iranians were one of the most helpful, cheerful and nice people I have ever met. I am not saying this just to be nice, but I really mean it. They were so welcoming and I would highly recommend a trip to Iran.

        1. thanks man
          i hope that one day visit u!because u are full of energy and u r best man for traveling! pl guide me .u r my teacher! good luck!

  94. There are some really great tips here. I agree with most. I especially like the comments about other’s excuses. People always tell me, “God if I had the opportunities you do…” I never can figure out what makes me so different as far as those are concerned. Except for the fact that I take the time to buy the plane or bus ticket, and sometimes choose that instead of a new cell phone or shopping spree.

    If you want to travel, just do it, worry about the other stuff later.

  95. So many great tips, even as a family travelling I can still relate to so many of them. Getting off the beaten path is always a goal of ours, it can be a challenge at times, so I’ll be searching your blogs for extra tips. Our children tend to break the ice wherever they go, as they are not shy, so making friends and chatting to the locals is very easy. Although I have found the locals are not as friendly in more touristy areas, and it is tougher to get a smile out of them… Do you find this too?
    Also love your suggestion regarding Backblaze, I have been trying to decide on the best backup for a while now, this definitely looks like a great option.
    We are currently staying near Lake Arenal in Costa Rica atm, do you have any tips on places to visit that are less touristy? I’ll be searching through your blogs later anyway, and taking your advise on ‘getting lost’ today, who knows what we will find.
    Thanks again for such a great article, Jackie

  96. In Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy they say to always bring a towel, but I do believe that scarves are superior to towels. You can wrap them around your head without them falling off. Good advice.

  97. Matthew, it’s great tips! I totally agree with your real practical advice! Nowadays, my travel bag is lighter and lighter. And I’m thinking I’ll convert to the back pack( not a big one), so my hands can move freely. Always, looking for zipper short pants. More travel more want to go out explore the world!

  98. Hi Matthew
    I quit my job and I set off once I was 50. I have been travelling for 2 years now and I LOVE this article.
    Every single point is spot on.
    And despite not agreeing with it, I went to a cockfight in Colombia. I wanted to know about all aspects of the culture and as you put it, to learn why some things are acceptable to others. Safe travels, Jane

  99. I just have to agree with all of those items on the list! I must say I haven´t tried everything, but I know I will…eventually :) Great tips :)

  100. Matthew, I feel totally jelaous… Even though I’m only going to be 19 in a few days, I’ve set up a diary of places I’m planning to visit! Yet there are a couple of obstacles.. I have to finish the university, get a well paid job and yeah, that is gonna take some time. (I’ve got no money whatsoever). But I love the way you do things and it is actually the same how I want to progress! Just sit in the plane or a car and drive away wherever my driving skills will lead me to :) You’re my inspiration, sir. Thank you!

  101. Good suggestions. I’d add to try and give the local language a go. Even if you mess up and are completely incomprehensible it often serves an ice breaker, and local appreciate the effort.

    1. Exactly. Locals appreciate that you’re trying. Well, most do. I generally try to learn about 10 of the most common words, which is usually enough to get by. Trying to learn every language for every country is just not practical if you travel a lot.

  102. I love this article but really wish there wasn’t a photo of cockfighting included. I’m all for being open minded while traveling but supporting abuse of animals is not something I’d consider attending ever, anywhere. There’s a reason why these activities are illegal here. Please consider changing that out.

    1. I completely understand your view and agree(kind of). But what you think is animal abuse, might not be considered the same in another place. After all, two males battling to the bitter end isn’t that rare in nature either :-)

    2. You’re missing the point Taralynn. I’m not supporting animal abuse, I’m just showing the reality of a different culture. You don’t have to agree with it, but I’m suggesting you take the time to learn more about it rather than making blind assumptions. Because things like this aren’t as black & white as they seem.

      Yes, there is a reason why it’s illegal here. But there are also reasons why it’s accepted there.

      1. I respectfully disagree with you. There are some things that are wrong whether someone is there to witness it or not. Imagine those chickens were two men. Is forcing them to fight until one is dead (while people watch and bet on the outcome) inherently wrong? Even if people naturally murder each other all the time? Even if a fictional culture found it acceptable? I realize people are used to considering animals as things, but they are actually individuals, even if their abilities are “less than” compared to humans. That is all the life they get, as is ours. I get the point “Keep an open mind” but take care it’s not so far open that your common sense falls right the hell out and you lose your compassion too.

  103. Hey :) I loved your post! I will read it more often until I start. My trip around the world will start next year, first I will have to earn some money.. But I’m really thankful for all of that tipps you get in the internet! Thanks for what you’ve wrote, I liked your points :)

    1. That’s the hardest part, saving money for your trip. But keep reading travel blogs for tips & inspiration to keep you on track! That’s what I did when I was first starting.

  104. Hi! Matthew. You rock with your post, I love the words and the so upbeat ideas you just shared. I can’t wait to see the world again next month, will be travelling to Hong Kong and probably try these profuse advice.

  105. GREAT great article. I just bought my flight ticket to Colombia a few days ago and after reading this, I’m more excited than ever! Thanks for the useful tips!

  106. Hi matthew
    i am sorry i have never travelled out of my country nigeria..So i dont know if i can join u in any of your trip, it sounds funny but i mean it.

  107. Thank you Matthew for these tips. I would like to start traveling like you, meet many nice people and explore the world. Your 30 tips are definitely going to be of lots of help. Thank you.

  108. Great post Matthew- Solo travel scares a lot of people understandably particularly trusting strangers with couchsurfing etc. How do you fight through the initial fears to even begin travelling like yourself?

    1. It was scary for me at first too. I still remember my first local bus ride in Mexico, when it broke down and I couldn’t understand the language, or what was going on. Embrace your fear, and conquer the challenges one step at a time.

      I like to remind myself that many others have already done most of these things before me. So it can’t be that bad! If they can do it, so can I.

  109. I waited until I was in my 40’s before I stopped making excuses and just started going where I wanted, all on my own. I have so much more to see and I can’t wait!
    Thanks for a great list/article.

    1. You’re never too old to head out and explore the world Christy! I’ve met great people in their 70’s staying at backpacker hostels.

      I hope when I’m that old I’ll be just as fun as them!

  110. This is a great post with great content!

    My husband & I are going to set off on a 6 month journey around the world this fall & can’t wait.

  111. Hi Mathew, I am a big travelling and culture geek. I have been collecting books and articles on different cultures and countries since I was 7 years old. I don’t want to be rich or famous, but surely do want to travel the world. Your answers to these questions or “Links” that can answer these questions and save you botheration are much appreciated- to help me and viewers in making big plans of world travel. You could always use my email, too.
    How old are you now and how old were you when you started traveling- ( I am 27).
    How much have you spend during all these 4 years travel. (#1 important)
    what do you do if you get sick or injured in a foreign country.
    How do you manage if no one speaks English in another country.
    Do you require visa of every country you travel ( I am a U.S citizen).
    What countries have you travel till now.
    Any more ” Detailed” guide and suggestions on “traveling cheap” will be tremendously helpful ( I am a poor Ph.D student).

    1. Hi Bilal! I started traveling when I was 29, and spend an average of $1000-$1500 a month on travel. Less when I first started, more now. How much you spend depends on your travel style and where you’re traveling. Central America is much cheaper than Europe for example.

      I’ve been sick only a handful of times, here’s a post about when I got Dengue Fever in Mexico. It sucks to be on your own when you’re sick, but doesn’t happen often.

      Every country is different for visas. For United States citizens, you can find visa information at Travel.State.Gov. Some countries allow you to get a visa on arrival, others you need to apply for in advance.

  112. Thank you Mathew for your post! I love to travel and truly appreciated this. Its always interesting to see different takes from different travelers as they maneuver through their own personal travels. I will be bookmarking this page. Thanks again!

  113. Hai Matt.. Great Tips from you. I’m a solo traveler. I went to few countries and planning to quit my job and travel the world. Still working on my blogs and hope to finish it very soon.

    One question.. Were you in Thailand sometimes last month? Saw someone in Don Muaeng airport with no hair and filming with go-pro. After reading your blog and look at you gadjets that you bring, are you the guy that i saw in Thailand?

    1. Hi Dila, that’s funny! I was in Thailand last month, it very well could have been me. I was filming some stuff when I was there too. Good luck with your blog and future travels!

  114. very helpful tips, I saw your photo of cockfighting and wonder if it was from Philippines? Stunning photos of beautiful people and daily life from around the world.

  115. Thank you for the great article! It’ll come in handy in a few months when I travel (hopefully) to Europe for a couple months! Being only a freshman in college I lack a lot of international travel knowledge and your article will definitely help!

  116. Great tips and advice, I am venturing out on my own travels in 5 weeks and need all the help I can get, I am such a newbie traveler and sometimes things can get quite overwhelming, this post has helped heaps, thanks.

  117. Great Pointers! Started traveling 3 years ago 2x-3x a year. A few with guided tour and few backpacking trips with friends I met from travels. First time next month, going SOLO for a month to Spain-Portugal. Nervous but more excited. One thing I’ve learned from traveling, ive learned to live within my means and be less materialistic. In the words of my OZ friend, yolo that sh*t. =)

      1. Matthew:
        Beautiful blog.
        I would love take a year off and travel the world, but I think it’s easier for a man to go on his own that there’s for a woman. Do you have an input on this?
        I’ve been planning this for a year, i’m saving but I think what is holding me is to go on my own.

        Thank you for all the tips.


        1. Great Article Matthew!
          I was going to comment on the general post, but I just saw Mariana’s comment and decided to reply to it and incorporate my comment :)

          Mariana: I’m a 28 year old female who has been traveling nonstop for nearly 3 years. More than 2 of those years have been solo! I completely agree with this list–couldn’t have said it better myself! I have to respond to your assumption that it’s easier for a man. I actually disagree with this. I’ve travelled alone through places like Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Cambodia, among others, and have never had a major issue. I’ve found nothing but kind, helpful people along the way and haven’t had trouble meeting people to travel with whenever I felt uneasy being alone. Hostels are amazing for easily meeting travel buddies! Just be friendly and open.

          In some ways it’s easier. You’d be surprised how many people/strangers look after you when you’re a solo female. Also, as a woman, I’d say we have the advantage of having an excellent natural intuition. We tend to be a bit more cautious and listen to our inner voices better than the average dude. This goes far when galavanting around the world and can keep you out of many compromising situations.

          Also, there are loads of blogs (including my own) these days featuring the voices of solo female travelers. If you’re looking for confidence, check them out!

  118. Mattew, it’s incredible people such as yourself that inspire other people to get out an explore life. Well done!!!!!!
    Keep going my friend.

  119. I find your #16 comment regarding drunk Australians offensive… accurate but none the less, offensive. Happy travels cobber.

  120. Agree with them all, Great post. I can’t thank enough to you for writing this and Glad I came across just before my 1st long road trip across UK.

    Thanks once again Mathew.

    Keep Roaming.!!

  121. Hey Matthew!!! It’s my pleasure to read your post regarding world travel. You share great recipe for travelers which help other individuals as well.

  122. I love all this advice THANK YOU!
    Very happy I found this website, I have been hesitant to drop everything and travel but SCARE of the what-if…
    Awesome post!

  123. 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

  124. 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!

  125. 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.

  126. 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.

  127. 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!

  128. 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?

    1. 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.

  129. 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

  130. 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!!

  131. 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!

  132. 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.

  133. 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.

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

    Happy travels 2015!

  135. “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.”

  136. “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.

  137. 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?

  138. 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:)

  139. 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

  140. 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 :(

  141. 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.

  142. 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.

  143. 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?

  144. 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!

  145. 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

    1. Fabio, it’ll be a little hard in some places, workable sometimes, and really easy in others. Don’t let that stop you, learn how to say what you need to say, and keep spreading compassionate awareness.

  146. 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!!!

    1. 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.

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

  147. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

      2. 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.


        1. 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.

  148. 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?

  149. 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

  150. 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)

  151. 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?

    1. 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.

  152. 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!

  153. 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.

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

  155. 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.

  156. 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.

  157. 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

  158. 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…

  159. 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 !!

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

    Thanks for the great post :)

  161. I couldn’t agree more with #30 (myself included). iT IS so easy to make endless excuses of why it cannot be done. My latest excuse is money. When I look back at every trip I have taken of any distance in the past, I remember having to adopt the attitude of JUST DO IT ! MAKE IT HAPPEN ! AGAIN, I HAVE TO PUT tunnel vision on it and MAKE IT HAPPEN. You opened my eyes to the fact I allowed myself to get back into the trap of one bullshit excuse after another and always next month or later. Later never comes for most people. Thank You so much for sharing your adventures and opening my eyes to the fact I, once again have to MAKE IT HAPPEN !!! I HAVE NO EXCUSE. It took reading your website to realize that. Good luck traveling the road that really does go on forever.

  162. I thought your blog was interesting and helpful. I love to travel. your mention of being open minded is very true, except when you use cruelty to animals as a form of entertainment. If you have an opinion that it’s wrong that is not being arrogant that is just being a decent human being with morals. If we are to be open minded about animal abuse then we must be equally open minded about abuse to humans. I personally would not go and watch either there is far better entertainment to watch while traveling.

  163. Those are great tips :) I’m planning on leaving my job and pursue my studies while travelling the world this coming january! I have no idea for how long but at least 8 months ! My goal is to have a better understanding of foreign markets, governments, culture and more …. I’m doing my master in International business management online and in addition to my academic knowledge, I want to further my personal knowledge about the world… Its a a huge dream and project and I can’t wait to be on the adventure :)

  164. Amazing tips, well worth remembering!! Going to bookmark.
    Really enjoying going through your blog, feels as though I’m on vacation myself, thanks for sharing :-)

  165. Great tips! Your outlook seems to be quite similar to mine (maybe not the parachute bit though!). I’d add limiting yourself to social media once a week only in there. I feel sorry for todays kids backpacking, who must at times feel they never left home as they are so up to date with whats going on. Wha’ts left to talk about when they phone home?

    1. Good point. But social media is here to stay. Rarely do people revert to old ways when it comes to new communication technology. How many people write and mail physical letters these days?

      I actually just finished watching the movie “Her”. It really makes you think.

  166. Really enjoyed reading these..I am a single mother of 2 and haven’t been out of the country since 2009, I have a burning desire to travel and have no idea how to make it happen..hopefully I will figure it out and be able to share amazing adventures with my children one day.

  167. I love what you say about maintaining relationships back home. It can be so easy to get swept up in the excitement of a new place and feel like you’re on a different planet. But as you say, most travel friendships and relationships come and go quickly – you gotta give love to the folks back home (and ask how THEY’RE doing, even IF you just scaled a volcano).

  168. wow, this has been very helpful. you certainly have travelled a lot. those tips that you mentioned will help me on my next destination. thanks

  169. Wow one of the best list of “things learned from travelling” i have read recently. Agree with almost all of them. Like the wake up early and say yes often.

  170. I am in high school, I have been torn for some time on what to do after high school. I want to go to college and have the whole experience that college has to offer. I also want to backpack around Europe with my cousin and take a gap year. I feel that if I take a gap year I will be behind in my life. I also do not want to look back at my life ten years from now and regret not traveling…… If you see this, could you help me in some way??

    1. Hi Alexa, I understand your concern 100%. I was in high school last year and did not want to take a gap year for the same reason as you and so I did both. I did a 6 month course which enabled me to find out what I want to study next year and get a diploma in Business Management. This course was at my local college and enabled me to get a bit of college experience. I also worked during the first 6 months and now for the second 6 months I am going to be travelling with the money I earned with some qualifications under my belt! It is the perfect combination and I feel that this Gap Year has truly helped me to find out what I want to do one day and more importantly who I want to become as a person. Good Luck! And enjoy whichever decision you make!

  171. #21 is my favorite – a place (and its people) doesn’t start to really open up until at LEAST a few weeks into your stay. From there it only gets better, as you begin to discover places you didn’t existed (“Wait, there’s a BEACH?!) and things about your new friends you never knew before (“Wait, Truong has a KID?!).

  172. Thank You Matthew! :)

    Im only 21, living in China, Shenzhen, 10000 kms from my home, Hungary. Ive always been a curious person, but never thought i can start exploring this early. Well, im still just on the way, but i see this huge opportunity in my life. However i got something more, cause my hobby-job is graphic designing and videography. Videography is the thing i want to live for, to share my view of the world, and i always knew it works only if i travel a lot. So now Im looking forward travelling with equipment that will serve me well, but still i can fit in my backback(s). It probably means i need to reduce all my stuff as much as i can. Now Im saving money and getting equipment for videography, but i hope than in a few years im ready to go on. :) I will probably need different plans for different matters. If i want to experience a place, i will bring less video equipment, to keep comfort. If i concentrate on video, i will bring more professional equipment, and plan some easier tour. Im just so excited :) Your blog is a perfect start to learn about the difficulties and responsibilities of travelling.

    Let the universe determine the rest. I did it, probably that’s how I ended here :)

  173. Great tips, Matthew but I must say I’m a little bit disappointed that you chose to feature cockfighting as the image for “Keep an open mind”. Animal cruelty is always a bad practice no matter the cultural background behind it (such as bullfighting).

  174. Grt informative and interesting blog love the way you share yours thought and point for traveling
    Guest House

  175. I absolutely LOVE your blog. Best one i’ve found yet! I’m working on making it to Cambodia this summer and continue to travel from there. My goal is to be a vagabond and see the world, not sit behind a desk and dream ;)

  176. I just found your site and just wanted to say thank you for your tips. I love traveling and my goal is to travel at least three times a year. A combination of a few small trips and a big one outside U.S. I’m so excited to start reading you blog and learn from them. I’m going to Fiji and New Zealand this coming April and i cannot wait.

  177. Thanks for this. Although I am not able to vagabond, I make a point of travelling someplace at least once or twice a year, usually with a husband and two kids in tow. We are off to Singapore and Malaysia (Borneo) in the next few weeks. So many of our friends, and even our family, can not understand why we travel now and with our children no less, suggesting that we should wait until we are retired or that our children won’t appreciate the travel. It’s such antiquated thinking, and I am so glad we don’t give it any creedance. Bottom line is, you never know what tomorrow will bring so seize the day. Our kids, at 11 and 14, have been to 9 different countries so far, experiencing them off the beaten path. We rent homes, we don’t stay at 5 star resorts. No they do not always understand how lucky they are to have the opportunities, but the knowledge they have gained seeing the world is incredible and they assume they will continue to travel throughout their lives. It’s a part of their lifestyle, they don’t see that there are any barriers to travel and have no fear or reservations about going to different places. I think that is an amazing gift to gift to someone…its something I had to learn as an adult!

    1. Exactly! Even a little travel will open your mind and help teach your children to respect people of all cultures, and gain knowledge about the world that just isn’t taught in school. Thanks so much for sharing Tigerlily. Have fun in Malaysia.

  178. Great tips, it gets me the travel vibe again! One question I would like to ask: how do/did you estimate the $$ to travel one year non-stop?

    1. I knew I was going to be in Central America for the first year. If you’re traveling through inexpensive countries, you can live on $800-$1000 a month. Other areas of the world can be closer to $1500 a month (Europe). This is if you’re staying in hostels, not spending a ton on guided tours, avoiding fancy restaurants, etc. So I saved about $7k and decided to see how long it would last. I was also earning some money selling ebooks about photography & club promoting, which I could manage from anywhere.

      The thing is, you can travel for as long as you want. It doesn’t have to be a year. Save some money, see how long you can make it last. Setting some aside for a return ticket home/other expenses if needed.

  179. A modification for #1: Expect something will go wrong, because it always does. It’s an attitude adjustment that allows the traveler to take it all in stride, rather than see it as an unnecessary problem. Besides, often I have discovered that solving the problem not only feels good, but may take your travel in an unanticipated and better direction.

    OH, one other “must have” that I have cherished. A small feather pillow that can be compressed in a ziplock bag. This item may result in the difference between a comfortable ride, a deep night’s sleep or being able to block out unwanted sunlight.

  180. I always do my best to get out of the main areas in other countries. Like I’ve told people before when I talk about going to France they assume I went to Paris. I tell them that if I wanted to see Americans I would have stayed home. I love to learn about new people and places and ways of life and you can’t do that unless you get out there and meet people. I really enjoyed your list and whole heartedly agree. Will be hitting Italy later this year and looking forward to it.

  181. I love these tips. My favorite one and the one I like to practice the most is getting lost. I love having no idea where I am! Especially with GPS on your phone, it’s always easy to find your way back.

  182. Great tips! Getting out of the traveler bubble’s so important. My best travel encounters happen by stumbling into an opportunity & slowing down enough, being present enough to stop & hang out.

  183. Some great tips there Matt. In my case, I travel with a ukulele. Music is an international language and it’s a great way to meet and mingle with locals and travelers alike. They get to laugh at me a lot (I tend to make a few mistakes and they get to learn a bit of ‘French’ when I do) and you get to create some great memories you wouldn’t otherwise have made. Plus, every now and again, you get a free drink or two if they actually like your playing…

  184. Going with the flow is such a major shirt in mindset for some people, but it’s incredibly helpful. Nothing is going to work out perfectly, so expecting disaster turns a disaster into a plot twist.

  185. Thanks for post, Matthew! We have started to travel recently and can only agree with majority of your advice. What we have found practical on the road is to learn a few basic words and phrases of the local language. It helps a lot not only while doing shopping at the market but also while taking picture of a shy person or so. Congrats to 3 years and looking forward to your next adventurous posts!

  186. Hello! What a great article that I find myself coming back to every now and then, so I figured I should finally comment. :) My boyfriend and I are leaving for our first (and hopefully not last) long term international adventure – in January. We have read blog after blog searching for advice and tips for long term travel. This one hits em all! I especially like #20 – saying yes to invitations. It’s one we’ve heard from Shannon O’Donnell of ALittleAdrift as well – and is so important to everyone traveling to get the most out of the experience.
    Looking forward to keeping up with you along our journey too.

  187. Such an inspiring post! After 17 months on the road I can say I’m still learning everyday something new, your points are ALL valid and should really inspire more people to leave their comfort zone and explore what is out there!

  188. Great photos, great tips, great fun to read your post. Now I am seriously looking to plan a long trip to Europe. I am sure your tips would help me a lot.

    Thanks a lot

  189. We agree with so many of your points! We’ve been on the road for 7 months and we’ve realised that what we enjoy the most is taking our time and enjoying a place for is food and it’s people. It’s been surprising which places along the way that we had no idea we would fall in love with (the Philippines is a big one)

    Great article hope we will be able to reflect in a similar way when we complete 3 years of travel ;-)

  190. This is of the most inspiring travel posts I’ve read mate, well done! This is just so incredible how much you can learn from your travel. Waking up early sucks, I agree, but it’s sometimes totally worth it, especially when you admire the sunrise over Angkor Wat :). Yes, interacting with locals is so important and yes I also prefer to slow down a bit when being on the road. If this will not inspire people to leave your comfort zone, I don’t know what will. Once again, AWESOME POST!

  191. I couldn’t agree more with you on the volunteering and meeting locals part. I have had some of my best travel experience with locals and whilst volunteering. You just don’t get this if you stick to your Lonely Plant all the time. I need to learn to plan less though. It is almost compulsive and I need to stop it. I think it will make my travels much more relaxing.

  192. Had a blast reading all your tips! I had a few questions though
    1) How did you afford to get from place to place?? I realize you took a lot of local transportation and all that jazz, but attempting to get from Guatemala to, lets say Fiji or Thailand, how did you afford the ticket? Was it all from the money you made when selling all your belongings or did you work while abroad?
    2) I LOVE the idea of getting a tattoo(s) from different places, especially getting them the way the locals do! How did you find these “tattoo artists” in these places?

    1. I try to avoid expensive flights as much as possible, but sometimes it’s necessary. My trip to Fiji was sponsored by the Fiji Tourism Board, so they covered that flight. These days I occasionally work with countries or brands to help promote their destinations or products in exchange for compensation of some sort. Sometimes that means free flights, accommodation, or payment. But that’s a recent development.

      You can pay for flights with a little “travel hacking” by collecting large amounts of airline miles for free tickets. My friend Clint talks a lot about this on his site:

      Another option is saving for an “Around the World Ticket” which includes many flights to many different parts of the world for a lot less than buying them individually.

      As for tattoos in foreign countries, just ask around when you get there! I heard about the Thai monk from a friend.

  193. Wow Congrats Matt on 3 years of travel. Crazy I have been following along for that long. I still remember when you arrived to your 1st destination and the airline lost your bag. My how time flies. Cheers to many more adventures.

  194. Wow I can’t believe it has been 3 years! What a huge change from the guy that thought clubs and material possessions were of high importance. I love the change and the experiences that continue to morph you into the broad minded person that you now are. Very proud to call you family and love being along for the ride.
    Love, Trish and Shawn

  195. Ah the good old money behind the flag trick! I’ve also known people that kept a microSD card with backups of important documents under a patch.

  196. Let me say first up “I am a bit offended by the drunk Australian’s comment – we are not all like that”

    Anyway some really genuine good tips, love the one about waking early. I love sitting having a coffee while I watch the town come to life.

  197. So many great tips! Where do i begin? Yes! Of course! SMILE! I liked all thirty, but that one can really make ( or fix ) a trip . After twenty years in another country ( Costa Rica ) i find that you get aquainted with the Locals /& travellers with a simple smile. Doors open so much easier with a simple sincere smile! That goes as well with being humble & respect the people & the place you are in.

  198. I love this post! The last point about how people make excuses is interesting. Have you done posts about, say, what to do with pets while you travel, or how to travel with pets? Those could be really good topics to tackle.

    I’ll admit, fear is always the biggest reason I and other travelers DON’T do something. It’s a shame, since I love experiencing new things, and I almost always feel better for it!

  199. Karsten, LOVE this post. It speaks to so many truths as much as it represents your personality and philosophy in life.

    Fear is the #1 reason to never do anything, whether it be travel or something else. The thing is, 95% of what we fear never usually happens. And we’re on the same timeline, I’m on 3 years too! Wah! :)

  200. Hi Matt! I recently came across your site, and I really love everything about it. From the design and easy navigation to your great stories….the hitch-hiking series in particular. I myself am in the process of developing a community-based travel blog called Bearfoot Theory. I’m still in the design phase, but your site is definitely serving as a source of inspiration. So thanks! and I’m looking forward to keeping up with your travels! -Kristen Bor

  201. Loved reading this, thank you for writing this. I’m pretty amazed you’ve been able to travel for three years, how can you afford this? That is the single biggest issue stopping me.


    1. Hi Paul! The key is not to think of travel as a “vacation”. Renting short-term apartments or staying in cheap hostels & guesthouses can actually cost LESS than living in the US and Europe. We are brainwashed into thinking that travel means staying at resort hotels, going on tours, and eating out at restaurants every night.

      I’m currently spending an average of $32 a day down here in Mexico, and I’m not living like a bum either.

      As for how I make an income, I’m planning a big article about that soon. But it’s a combination of freelance writing, photography, brand & marketing partnerships, affiliate links, and advertising. But like most long-term travelers I know, I downsized my lifestyle and saved money to pay for the first year. It’s not easy — but certainly possible.

  202. These are great tips! Especially the one about waking up early and catching that magic hour. That’s one thing i kept failing to do.

    Anyway, another tip is to take advantage of free things to do everywhere (ie. free entry, free walking tours, etc.)
    I collect these free stuffs on my site Broke Tourist

    Check it out if you like. May come in handy.

    Cheers, Elys

  203. Great advice. Cultural competency is a skill that can be developed quickly while traveling – it begins with self awareness and leads to treating fellow human beings with genuine respect. We are in the process of selling all to travel, and we intend to go slow.

  204. Thank you for this post – every single one of these tips resonate. You’ve nailed them brilliantly. The one about getting up early is a great one, I think. You can really get a feel for a place just by watching it wake up. I’m going to keep this post to remind myself how to make the best out of every day on the road. Thanks again :)

  205. Congrats on the 3 years dude! I have been contemplating waking up early for the last month or so after being forced to for a flight. Maybe its time to make the change and learn from my elders (in travel years that is)

    1. I always seem to capture great moments on my camera early in the morning. People getting started with their day. It’s easier to pull someone aside for a portrait when they’re less busy with customers so early in the morning.

  206. Great tips! We definitely agree with all of these, and couldn’t have said it better ourselves. I think the taking care of your body one and maintaing connections with people back home are especially important. It’s so easy to let those things slip by the wayside, but they are so necessary for overall wellbeing! We need to start listening to more podcasts though, that’s for sure :) Congrats on 3 years!

  207. I bought the shemagh you recommended before my last trip and wore it just about every day. It is a new staple for all future trips. Great suggestion and tips!

  208. Hey Matt!
    Great tips! I often travel alone – and agree with ALL of these. Getting to know the locals is my favorite! They guide you to the BEST places to eat and BEST things to do where the tourists are not.
    I always look forward to your updates.
    Safe travels!

  209. Great post! Never thought about stashing cash when we travel but I think we will now. Our #1 travel tip is to bring ziploc bags…we don’t travel anywhere without a handful of them. So useful for a variety of things: packing a picnic lunch, storing toiletries, etc.

      1. Hey Matt, I was wondering what lens you use for your Sony A7 camera? With this endless backpacking of yours, how many are you bringing and what lens you can’t live without? Cheers from Philippines and Singapore!

        1. At the moment I just have the kit lens. Waiting for more E-mount full frame lenses to be released. Like the 24-70 F4 Zeiss next month, then may pick up an ultra wide that will work with it too.

  210. Hey Mat !
    Such a pleasure to read your tips !
    So glad to have met you at your beginnings in Mexico three years ago !
    You’re not just a great traveler, you’re an amazing story teller and photographer ;-)
    I know Switzerland’s not as exotic as Mexico, but you’ll be most welcome whenever you wish to treat your body good with a cheese fondue or find new hiding locations for your “emergency hundred dollars” ;-)
    Keep traveling ! Safe and exciting ;-)

  211. Tip 9a: Only post amazing photos. Or do you only take amazing photos?! Love the one of the cock fight (even if morally wrong) and great tips. The one I always say, is it to slow down in a place. I slowed down while in Chile, and even though I wish I would have gone to other places to snowboard, the locals recognized me as a local eventually. Pretty cool feeling.

    1. I agree Steve. Slowing down is always more rewarding in the long run. I included the cock-fight photo because I knew it would stir up some emotions. But it’s an ancient practice with a long tradition around the world. Before we judge other cultures we need to take a look at ourselves. :)

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