A long term travelers guide: 10 things I learned in 2008

January 1, 2009 - Filed under General

  1. Everyone needs a rice cooker. Making rice using a pot is barbaric.
  2. Having many possessions doesn’t equal happiness. Having none can give you a kind of freedom. Having some makes life more comfortable. Having too many, you become a keeper of things and they in turn eventually keep you.
  3. The basic necessities of human life have been replaced by the four “Good F”‘s of nomadic life. Good food, good friends, good family, and good fun. Remove any of those from the equation and you might as well go home and get a day job.
  4. A problem will never fix itself. Us Canadians are a non-confrontational lot for the most part, but in Asia… you better speak up and throw some elbows to get to the head of the line. And once you’ve maimed the rest of the crowd, remember to wear a smile while you complain.
  5. There is no such thing as ‘excessive use of horn’. In a country where there is little driver training, no drunk driving enforcement, and driving at night with no lights is common, its a valuable life saving warning system.
  6. When traveling, you can end up in some shitty situations. If the pharmacist (who doesn’t speak english) gives you loperamide or another antimotility agent like diphenoxylate or paregoric (like Immodium, or Pepto), consider the amount of bacteria you will soon be cultivating in your insides because you’ve slowed the process. Most travelers diarrhea is bacterial based and occurs when your body deems it necessary to purge the system. Slowing the process should be a last resort taken only when experiencing dehydration… and in that case, go to the hospital and get expert treatment! Another common treatment offered is aluminum hydroxide or magnesium hydroxide. This is nothing more than antacid tablets. A more effective treatment for bacterial diarrhea is levofloxacin or another broad spectrum antibacterial like ciprofloxacin. And remember, keep hydrating! As usual, consult a medical expert before taking any of my butt oriented advice.
  7. Search for local culture. While expat bars/restaurants and resorts are great for finding some of the comforts of home, if you spend all your time there, why are you traveling? Some of our best experiences have been at the many fiestas where people will invite you into their homes to share local dishes, play games, and sing. Or simply sharing a large beer and lots of laughs with whoever happens to be at one of the many roadside sari-sari shacks.
  8. Instant coffee: No matter what you add to it, its shit. Scour the earth for a French press and some good ground coffee.
  9. Don’t be afraid. The world is generally not a dangerous place. People are inherently good but tempted by desperation and opportunity. So use common sense and don’t be a target. The same safety rules that apply at home apply everywhere else.
    • Don’t flash a lot of cash, electronics, or jewelry.
    • Don’t walk alone at night in places you aren’t familiar with.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
    • Don’t wear money belts or neck pouch wallets or other tourist items that scream, “Hey, my money is here and I’ve got lots of it!” Simply moving your wallet to your front pocket should do.
  10. Learn some of the local language(s). A simple “Hello”, “Good evening”, or “What’s up bro?” in the local dialect goes a long way to making local friends, showing that you’re willing to take part in their culture.

Happy New Year everyone! All the best in 2009 wherever your travels may take you.

Posted by: Shim

2 Comments so far

  1. Travis Germscheid January 21, 2009 2:41 am

    Hey, it’s your cousin! My mom recently showed me your blog and due to a somewhat amazing coincidence, these rules may REALLY come in handy for me. Turns out that on Saturday I won a 21-day all expenses paid backpacking group trip to Thailand for myself (not for two unfortunately:|). I’m torn somewhere between happy as can be and scared shitless! Hopefully these rules will serve me well.

    If you can give me any advice for a kid who’s never been out of north America I’m sure it would come in handy! :)


  2. Shim January 21, 2009 4:54 am

    That’s awesome Travis! Congrats on the free trip! You’re gonna have a blast. Thailand was my first real international experience too. We’re headed there at the end of February, when are you going? Anyway, I’ll fire you an email and you can fill me in on details about where and when you’re headed.

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