There’s no right or wrong way to travel…but there are a few things everyone should keep in mind while on the road.
Things will go wrong, planes will be delayed, the weather won’t cooperate and you’ll forget to charge your camera battery. In the end, it probably won’t matter too much. Just relax and let things play out.
Open to new experiences, new people, new cultures, new foods, new plans…traveling gives you a chance to escape from your usual routine – let it.
Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t need to spend thousands on nice resorts, private transportation or package ‘deals’. That said – why go somewhere new if you’re not willing to shell out some cash to fully experience the place? I’ve backpacked before where I would constantly seek out the cheapest room, no matter how bad it was, and opt out of activities to save money. I wanted my traveling budget to last as long as possible and to do that I had to make cuts and be careful of what I spent my money on. But I also probably missed out on opportunities, activities and experiences that would have made my trip more enjoyable and memorable because I was so hesitant to spend money. (And if you’re traveling in a country where things are cheaper than your home, don’t expect everything to be dirt cheap or try to lowball the sellers. It’s one thing to be ripped off, it’s another to haggle down to the last penny leaving the other person in a bad position – everyone needs to make a living.)
Or ride a bicycle. But, really, you should just walk.
There’s no better way to explore a place and notice unexpected things you would have easily miss if you weren’t taking the time to slow down and walk. After more than two years living in the same small town I still walk the familiar streets and recognize different things for the first time or make connections that I hadn’t understood before.
It’s so hard not to have high hopes and expectations for a trip – especially when you’re using precious vacation days and savings. Chances are though, the fewer expectations you have, the better your travels will be as you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the way things work out instead of stressed when they don’t go the way you planned. Some of my best trips were when I didn’t expect much from them, and some of my most disappointing were when I built them up too much ahead of time in my head. Certainly get excited for an upcoming adventure, but don’t expect it to go exactly as you imagine…it may be even better. Also don’t believe all the travel porn photos you see on Pinterest…while they may serve as travel inspiration, the stylized, Photoshopped places in the photos often don’t actually exist quite like that.
Some people feel like they have to have every hour of a trip planned out, while others boast about flying from the seat of their pants. Personally, I don’t think either is the right approach. A little planning and research will help your trip run more smoothly and often lower costs (instead of getting stuck needing a room or transportation at the last minute), but leave plenty of room for spontaneity, unplanned experiences and changed plans. Refer back to Rule #2.
Why go somewhere new if you’re going to stress about what you eat or refuse to temporarily change your eating habits? That just sounds exhausting and no fun. Try something new.
There’s some truth to all stereotypes – don’t act to reinforce the negative ones. …and probably don’t fly half way around the world to tag walls in another country. (Though I did appreciate seeing this reminder of home.)
…or buy too much to take back home. While it may seem challenging to cut back, it’s more difficult to lug around heavy bags when you’re on the move. You can probably get by with less than you originally think and if you forget something you can either do without or buy a new one.
Traveling and going on vacation is not a right. While many people in the world can travel – if they make it a priority – for others it’s impossible. Between expenses, difficult visa processes and different economic statuses, not everyone can travel. Appreciate that you can.
What are your golden travel rules?
Hey! I'm Alana and I've spent nearly the past decade living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, working as a writer and photographer. I started Paper Planes as a place to share local insight, special places, and how to travel well through a range of experiences — from hostels to high-end hotels, street meat to multi-course meals.
New places are always calling my name...
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great reminders, Alana, and photography, wonderful, as usual.
I completely agree with this list – particularly the points about money and expectations!
I’m working on following those ones better…
All very important rules. I’m always thinking of how I represent my homes – especially when I see others giving a bad name. And expectation.. always greater to come with none and be blown away eh?
The expectations one is so difficult though! How can you not go somewhere without high hopes??
This is a fantastic list with fantastic photography!
Will refer back to these rules while I am travelling throughout SEA.
Thanks for reading, Maddie!
I love how well the images go with every point. i especially agree with feeling gratitude, limiting expectations, being open to new experiences, and walking to find the unexpected. and while i love last-minute travels and spontaneous decisions, i do agree with planning ahead as well, even if it’s only accommodation for the first couple of days!
Thanks for reading, Erica!
Thanks for your experience. Good idea for fit traveler. But If you travel with family, kids it is hard to follow your inclusion.
Why is it difficult to follow?
I definitely see tourist attractions, but I always include local people & experiences as much as possible. This aspect has greatly added value to my travels.
I also really try to go with the flow. Every experience is an opportunity. I stay curious & open to whatever comes my way.
It’s always good to have a mix!
Leave each place in better condition than when you arrived: clean something, help someone, make people smile.
Love your blog Alana. Very inspiring as I have just recently began my travels all around the world.
I hope they are going well and you’re having a wonderful time – thanks for reading!
18 Comments on 10 Golden Travel Rules