For the last two years I have been traveling a lot. As much as I did while I was in Seminary; sometimes I’m gone for 2-3 weekends out of a given month. As I have been trying to complete my 30 countries I have enjoyed journeying out of the country multiple times a year instead of once, which has taught me a lot of lessons. They really have been very clear in the last year though, so I want to share my insights with you.
- Copenhagen has the best nose spray: You may laugh at me but this is important. Nose sprays in the US have something in them that make my sinuses sore. It makes my sinus cavity very tender. When I was in Copenhagen I was sick and had congestion and pressure like nobody’s business. I broke down and popped into a drug store while I was bopping around the city and purchased a nose spray to open up my disrespectfully stuffed nasal passages. Y’ALL. This nose spray is minty, fresh, and glorious. I have used it since I came back to the States. It is a game changer. If you know of an American version of this joint, put ya girl on. Don’t be stingy.
- You can bounce back from a bad day: Traveling is exciting. Yet no one talks about the reality that you can have a bad day on a trip. You can have a meltdown after being disappointed with how the day went, feeling like you failed because riding a bike did not come back as intuitive as you thought it world. You have to allow yourself to be in that moment, have some wine, and then decide how to move forward. I talked about this in depth on my YouTube channel. But I am so proud of myself because I salvaged my experience and had a great day. So bad days happen, but you can come back from it.
- I love traveling alone and with friends: In 2017 I traveled with a pretty large group, as well as took the leave and traveled abroad to three countries by myself. I really enjoy traveling with my friends. I have had the honor of popping a few of my dear friend’s international cherries. It brings me such joy to be able to see the wonder and novelty of international travel in others. I sometimes take for granted how my experience that I have. My family and friends really do consider me a guru. It is amazing to share the adventure with people that you love and those memories are absolutely priceless. I also really do appreciate traveling by myself. I mean, it is not much of a surprise because I am an introvert. I enjoy silence and not having to worry about anyone else’s happiness but my own. I can definitely do either. I just like to go.
- Your travel crew matters: I have traveled with groups since 2009 y’all. Let’s be clear. I BEEN KNOWIN’. However comma, the past year reminded me that you really have to be so careful about who you travel with, especially international. It is TOO. FAR. to be out here in these international streets with people that make you upset and get on your damn nerves. I have traveled with people that I only got to know via the internet which was pretty much like catching lightning in a bottle because of how well we got along. Even though the crew was great, traveling with others is really overwhelming for me. Again: introvert. At some point everyone gets on the last and best of my nerves. Hell, I get on my own damn nerves. Dealing with multiple personalities can really show you your mettle as a human being. If you are paying to go somewhere, you should always be ok with who you are traveling with. At this point I know who I can and cannot be gone with for any amount of time. Because of this, I cannot and will not travel with just anyone.
- I hate packing: My mom taught me how to pack with I was about nine or ten years old. My mother is a great packer. I am a packing BOSS. I am highly organized as a packer and it stresses me the hell out. I plan because I am also kind of scatterbrained, and usually flying on Spirit with a personal item. Going as much as I do has made me realize that I really do not like to pack. At first it was fun and a puzzle, but it has gotten kind of old. That by no means is going to slow down my travel. I’ll just be cussing myself out every time I pull out my suitcase.
- I love the challenge of budget travel: I consider myself to be a particular kind of travel master: I am a budget traveler through and through. I have to be. I’m a doctoral student that lives centimeters above the poverty line, but seeing how big the world is has been my goal for almost a decade now. With that I have had to get creative with how I continue to include travel in my lifestyle and I love it. While I do not consider myself a minimalist by any means, I definitely discovered what matters to me in my travel experience. At this point I have done five star hotels and been on a yacht for a week, but I have also slept in the airport and survived off of eaten $2-$3 Euro pizza and water. And had a damn ball doing it. That’s why I decided to share my knowledge in the first place. It swells my INTJ heart to crack the code of being a jetsetter on a small budget.
- Solo travel is a MUST: I have gone abroad by myself twice in my life. The first time I went to Germany on my own to present my work at a conference. This year I decided I wanted to go to Afropunk in London and none of my friends had the time and/or money to join me. I was also on the edge of a breakdown. So I went by myself. I got sick, had a small breakdown, and prayed my way past baggage fees. I learned a lot about myself in the time I have braved countries that I had never been to, with languages I either did not know or know well. I also made friends, took epic pictures, laid in the grass, saw my musical baes, and indulged in spa-awesomeness. I would never trade that experience. I believe that everyone needs to take a far away solo trip at least once in their lives because it will totally change how you think about yourself and see the world around you. Just do it.
Did you travel in 2017? What were some of the lessons that you learned?