Whenever I meet a very well-seasoned traveler - the kind who's had to order extra pages for their passport - I'm filled with much admiration.
Almost always, they're super friendly and laid-back, with many stories to tell and few complaints.
Anyone who's done some traveling knows about its ups and downs. It's a constant learning process, which is why I think these seasoned globetrotters are so easy-going.
They developed and then relied on a personal travel philosophy - a set of self-regulated principles - to guide them through the good times and the occasional bad.
Now, I'm not quite the world traveler I aspire to be, but I've traveled enough to have made some mistakes, learned from them and created my own rules to enable me to travel better, smarter and stress-free.
These are the rules that work for me. They are constantly evolving with every new trip, and they inspire me to be a better traveler.
I don't expect that you'll share all my rules. Instead, I hope that they inspire you to articular your own personal philosophy that you can take with you on your next trip.
1) I'm game, for just about everything. I can be shy around new people but when I travel I make myself go up and talk to locals and fellow travelers to ask questions or make conversation. I try new foods, drinks, ways of life. I try to always say yes and seize every moment and opportunity.
2) I'm a positive ambassador for my country.
3) I'm flexible. I never get too attached to plans and I'm okay with letting them go if life interferes. I don't let surprises and changes affect my attitude and try to see everything that happens as part of the adventure.
4) I use the language. In many places there are enough English-speakers to depend on everyone else's language skills, rather than struggle with learning and practicing the local tongue. Even if it's only a couple of phrases, I give it a shot and don't stress about sounding stupid.
5) I approximate a realistic budget for my trip - and stick to it.
6) I buy only practical souvenirs (duh, right?)
Once during a trip to the Andes mountains, I discovered dozens of vendors selling amazing artisan pottery and ceramics in all shapes and sizes. Against my better judgment I scooped up a few pieces to take home as souvenirs and gifts. Mind you however, I was backpacking at the time, and had months ahead of me on this trip with little spare room in my bags. Needless to say, most of those beautiful clay pieces came home in, well, pieces. Never again.
7) I trust myself and follow my instincts.
8) I know when to give my body a break and not push myself too hard (that museum will be there tomorrow).
9) I know when I can keep going.
10) I'm grateful. To be able to explore the world is a privilege, and for that reason alone I try to make every day meaningful in one way or another.
I like my rules and they have helped me a great deal during my travels because they remind me that I can do anything.
I hope for you they are a model to be able to develop your own personal travel philosophy. We would love to hear them! Please share in the comments.