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10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Traveling

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Kotor, Montenegro |
Kotor, Montenegro | September 2015

I’ve spent over 1,000 days traveling and living abroad, and while some of those days I feel equipped to run a nation, and other times, I’m a mere breakdown away from resorting to pampers, the happy medium in there reminds me that the growth has been incredible over time.

And for those who are about to embark on long-term travel for the first time, I hope this post can help give you some insight as to what there is to know about the crazy world of travel.

1.) A%$holes have no ethnicity, religion, or location. They’re everywhere.

Just the other day I was flipped off by a teenager on a bus. No reason. Maybe he thought it’d combat his micropenis syndrome bad day or something.

Then there was that other time a robust, French lady shoved me out of the way for not opening the metro doors fast enough in Paris.

And oooh my favorite, the American guy I met in Germany who told me to avoid Turkey like the plague, because he’s “pretty sure that’s where all the terrorists are”.

*le sigh*

So whether I’m being cursed at for not walking fast enough in London or being looked at like dirt in Prague, a%$holes are (un)fortunately populated in every nation in the world.

God didn’t discriminate. He made sure every country would have to tolerate these buffoons, and whether their a%$holery was gradually developed or a trait they were born with, let’s just stop trying to make it our problem and let Darwinism take the lead with their existence.

So when you encounter one on the road, don’t take it personal or allow them to ruin an entire destination or travel experience for you.

2.) Become a “YES” gal. They make for the best stories.

Petra, Jordan |
Petra, Jordan | May 2016

I met a guy Dace, from San Francisco, while traveling in Jordan, and when we were swapping stories, he reminded me of the importance of being a “yes” man.

And how saying “yes” to every offer and conversation led to one of the most unforgettable days he’s ever had while traveling. And I couldn’t agree more.

Invited for lunch by customs officers at the border in Cyprus? I said YES.

Climb a dangerously steep, massive rock to watch the sunset in Petra? I said YES.

Explore a new city with someone you know from Instagram? ALWAYS SAY YES.

3.) Learn to let the universe play its course.

Missed your flight? It happens! Stay an extra day and do something ridiculous and unforgettable.

Get super lost? Good news! There’s something everywhere you turn, so you’re never technically “lost”, just completely opposite of where you initially intended to go 😉

The hot guy you met has just left? No worries! He probably has herpes a girlfriend and was looking for an excuse to cheat on her. Dodged a bullet there, soldier. Chat it up with the other guy who’s been eyeing you instead.

Whether it’s patience, resourcefulness, or destiny that the universe is trying to show and teach you, allow it to do its job.

If everything always went as planned, we’d all be billionaires, right? 😛

Countryside of Romania |
Riding through the countryside of Romania | August 2015

4.) Surround yourself with like-minded travelers.

As someone who spends her days constantly pouring inspiration, motivation, and empowering words into the lives of others, you get to a point where you exhaust all your energy and need to be refueled by the words and inspiration of like-minded people.

If you drain your mind of all the hope and encouragement you constantly give others, then there’s nothing left for you.

Seek mentorship and surround yourself with those who fan your flames, not extinguish them.

5.) Don’t ignore your anxiety/stress/depression.

Sveti Stefan, Montenegro |
Sveti Stefan, Montenegro | September 2015

Life happens to everyone, and it’s important to look after your mental health just as much as your physical health.

Don’t ignore your depression if/when it comes.

Sometimes, there will be no cause of it. Sometimes, you won’t know who to talk to. Sometimes, you won’t want anyone to talk to. But be sure to do something that’s actively combatting or fighting it.

You are not above getting help for anything you go through just because your life is coveted or romanticized by others.

6.) Know your privilege and don’t abuse it.

London, UK |
London, UK | March 2016

Whether it’s your privilege of traveling without visas based on your nationality, your privilege of not getting randomly stopped and checked for papers, or even your privilege that allows you to afford this lifestyle.

Keep your privilege in check and don’t ever mistake it as an unwavering right.

7.) Call your mom.

Check in with her as often as possible. Any way you can. Calls. Texts. Photos. Skype. Whatever.

There is no such thing as over-calling the woman who brought you into the world that you’re currently exploring.

8.) Document everything. In multiple ways.

Chiang Mai, Thailand |
Chiang Mai, Thailand | October 2015

Journal. Blog. Video. Photos. Letters. Postcards. Stamps. Anything!

It’ll be SO valuable [for you] down the line.

The one thing you’re promised is your nows and todays. So document them!

Remember them in their purest form by writing and recording those moments you want to keep forever.

I wish I took more video of my travels back in 2012. Video is as raw as it gets and whether you do anything with it or not, you’ll have something to laugh and reminisce over years from now when Facebook reminds you that this cyber gold still exists.

9.) Don’t confuse a magical moment for a magical guy.

Sunset in Budva, Montenegro |
Sunset in Budva, Montenegro | September 2015

Ah, yes. The inevitable. Falling in love on the road.

You’re sitting on a hilltop, overlooking the sea, fireworks lighting up the sky from some random local festival that gave you another excuse to drink, and you’re sharing that moment with a guy you met a few hours ago.

All of a sudden, you’re planning out your exotic happily-ever-after when he’ll just turn out to be a miserably-never-again.

You ignored the red flags, because when in Rome, right?! Wrong. Because you’re in Barcelona. But also, no. Lol.

Follow your heart, but take your brain and morals with you. I promise you, the two can coexist despite what our Jersey Shore generation wants you to believe.

10.) Travel for more than just the fun of it.

Jerusalem, Israel |
Jerusalem, Israel | May 2016

Travel to learn. To challenge yourself. To earn trust. To make friends. To lose friends. To experience heartache. Poverty. Refugees. Corruption. Politics.

Travel to change more than just your profile picture, because there is so much to gain from this invaluable experience.

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  • What a great post! I absolutely love it. Become a ‘yes’ person is so true. What’s the point of doing all this amazing travel if you are afraid to try new things. And the last tip is so key – it is amazing how much you can learn and grow as a person just by travelling.

    • YESSSSS! You nailed it as well! Travel is all about opening ourselves to new things: cultures, experiences, memories! XOXO

  • You’ve done it again Gloria! I love this piece! I have to remind myself more often to let the universe run its course! I love every single point you brought up here, especially “know your privilege and don’t abuse it.” Thanks again for being awesome and an inspiration!

    • We’re all guilty, Megan! We do SO much to try and control our lives, but destiny has the last say (usually it’s a laugh, lol). Thanks for reading and the for the kind words! XOXO

  • Love this, Glo! Especially the reminder to call our moms. That’s something I always do (traveling or not) and it astounds me when people tell me their parents don’t know which country they’re in. Crazy! And of course the last one being THE most important reasons to travel in my book :).

    • AMEN, girlfriend! I’ve gotten so much better at checking in with my mom and it really shows how much she appreciates it! XOXO

  • Worldtravelbug

    “A%$holes have no ethnicity, religion, or location. They’re everywhere” haha starting with this sentence I knew I could totally relate to this article and I did. And I have become a more “yes” person because of traveling and not only that but also a braver person! Excellent article Gloria!!!

  • JustGoPlaces

    As ever I love this post. I am not a full-time traveler like you but I have been travelling for years. I really wish I had documented some of my earlier travels. Now I want to go back with the kids and I can’t remember where that great hotel or restaurant was (old age!). If only I had even taken a photo of it! Definitely one of my big regrets. I spent my 30th birthday on a houseboat in Kerala – do I even have a photo of it? nope. I was so dumb and young and thought I’d remember everything.

    • Haha, too funny, and literally EVERYONE has regrets of not documenting enough of their travels. Even all the photos and videos I have I still wonder whether it’s enough! Lol

  • Love this! Laughed out loud at some parts..”he probably has (herpes) a girlfriend. I don’t know how people fall in love on the road..the road is already stressful for me, I can’t imagine having a whole other person to deal with, plus looking nice for this whole other each his/her own.
    Call your mom..definately. I live away from my another home away from my real home..and even when not traveling I all her up..she’ll say something that has me roaring in laughter..and I’ll pretty much offload a whole bunch of my own stresses etc..I always feel light after talking to her..I’m a mum myself but I haven’t quite 9 yr old acts like the adult sometimes..but she’s a precious happy lil camper..I always cry when I have to travel without her..
    I’m not sure I will ever hack the full-time travel thingy..well done you!

    • Hahaha, that herpes line, man, sometimes my mind has no filter. It says what it wants 😛

  • Hannah Logan

    Too true! As the queen of missing planes and trains I’m all about #3 😉

  • Lauren

    I love this! You’ve really captured the experience of traveling in these 10 points. Even if you don’t know these things before you leave, I feel like the point of travel is to learn them.

  • Wow, I love this post! I found myself nodding along with every one of these 10 points haha. I especially loved #3 and #5.. they rang so true for me in regards to my recent travel experience. Great post! 🙂

    • Thanks so much for reading, Ella! So glad it resonated with you! XOXO

  • Loved this post! Laughed especially at #9!

    Jo x

  • Marvellous post Glo! Totally agree. Say “yes” to everything!
    Nice one dear. 🙂

  • Incredible post!
    To an extent of safety, I always live by #2 (as a guy). Almost all of my most memorable travel stories stem from times I felt like doing nothing and got an offer to join someone, thereby accepting.
    #3 is also a great point!


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  • What was Dace’s unforgetable day?

  • Kristen.L

    ugh! the first point you made when you mentioned the guy who said that thing about Turkey just angers me so much! I can’t stand people like that. I work with a guy who is pro Trump (as if that wasn’t bad enough), he fully supports the banning of Muslims and the other day he said and I quote “You know, 99% of Muslims are terrorists, that’s a fact”………..and i was just like “WHERE DID YOU GET THAT FACT? YOUR RACIST ASS?!”