In a nut shell: The core advice

Okay we get it there is too much text on the site and you haven't time or inclination to read even 10%. Well here is the TL;DR summary. The essential – need to know, take away top ten.

ReadIn summary... there is a hell of a lot of advice floating around and you have probably realised that it cannot always be specific to you or your circumstances. In a modern ages we are always looking for that extra bit of information that can win us something, ‘a hack’ or shortcut. We also come to expect things short and simple.

Well in internet parlance here is the * ‘too long, didn't read’ for; nicely packaged in a list of ten takeaways. It is the advice that applies to almost all and when kept in mind will allow for the best possible trip. However, many are easier said than done!

  • Pack small.

    There is a pretty good chance you won't need something for every eventuality. Keep your bag small and light so you can carry it without too much strain and can keep it next to you on public transport (and ideally carry-on when flying). There is a big difference between what you think you need and what you actually need. Most of what you actually need can be bought when on the road if forgotten.

  • Don't obsess with planning, guidebooks and the recommendations made in them.

    If you are visiting this site chances are you are planning your trip. Once you have decided where to go (at least first) and booked your flight you start to ask yourself what to do/see. There is no simple, perfect, one size fits all itinerary - so don't obsess over it. The answers to which places are best for you to see are not found solely on the internet nor in guidebooks. These are there to guide you. The only way you can fully understand if somewhere is worthwhile to visit is by taking the time and energy to go – if it is not, you have learnt something. In time you understand what sort of places/sights you want to visit won't be the same as those with ‘Recommended’ written next to them either in a guidebook, on this site or any other! Just because it is not well known or not in ‘the book’ does not mean it not worth it – plus you can't see it all.

  • Don't get hung up on a check-list of famous sights or attractions.

    Big BenThe most familiar names and the most recognizable images are the first instinct for most to want to visit. Many a trip is a run-around taking in famous monuments with the worst travel has to offer (hassle, crowds, inflated prices) being around global ‘must see/photo sights’. Sure go get the photo or climb the mountain, these places feed our travel ego and make for good markers on an itinerary map, but in-between try as much as you can to gear your trip towards another focus (perhaps food, scenery or people).

    Spare a moment to understand why we are all so obsessed with seeing certain attractions that are ingrained in our minds through images, and to understand the images don't always (rarely) match reality (see number 8). Do some research, open your mind: Munich is not the only beer festival in Germany, Rio is not the only Carnival in South America and the Thai islands are not the only beaches in Asia.

  • Invest a little time in, get much more out.

    Whatever you can do to try and understand a little more about the destination(s) you get to will pay great dividends in return. Forget learning the language or having a degree in the history, but knowing a couple of words and being aware of what ‘shapes’ the country with a little reading will give you the background to dive deeper into the environment and better understand what you see/hear and in the worst case will allow to try some really great food and drink. In short try as much as your time/attention allows not to be an ignorant tourist! This site is littered with recommendations of food/drink, books, movies and links that can help you.

  • Don't assume your mood whilst travelling when planning before your departure. Stay flexible.

    This matters more if you are planning to be away for months rather than days or weeks. Travelling is hard work and full of many unknowns (most positive), so when you are sitting comfortably at home planning your route/itinerary for months within a trip you have not left for remember your motivation to take another bus journey, visit another temple or stay another day in 100% humidity will be different.

  • Don't be scared. It is not too adventurous you can do it.

    The world seems like a pretty scary place. In fact it is not. Nobody sits at home on the eve of a trip somewhere new without trepidation (okay maybe Bear Grylls). It is normal to be scared and worried. Don't worry you are not the first and very, very few people outside your home town are thieves and terrorists. No matter how remote and adventurous you might think your trip is, hundreds of thousands if not millions have made the same and so can you. The unknown is frightening, not the destination – that soon changes with your worries melting away 30mins after you arrive.

  • Keep your shit together, don't flaunt your wealth or forget yourself in taking silly risks.

    From freaking out and paranoia before arriving somewhere, to a total state of relaxation is a path often taken by travellers. Within a few days of being surrounded by other travellers, creature comforts and maybe even a few drinks onboard, worries melt away (especially in popular destinations). On one hand take it easy, relax and enjoy - on the other remember some basic commonsense. If you are somewhere poor take off that jewellery, if the car has a seatbelt, put it on – stay organised and with one eye on your things and security. You’re not in Kansas anymore.

  • Great expectations.

    Don't let your expectation on how much travel in a destination should costs or what you ‘expect’ the country, sights or number of tourist will be,  rule your trip. Or in the words of Alexander Pope: Blessed is he who expects nothing for he is never disappointed. It is the journey not the destination that you will remember.

  • Have enough money.

    MoneyAs much as people want to hear an exact number, there is no specific amount of money you need for your travels given the myriad of variables. Be sensible, if you have never been somewhere before don't make assumptions of living on next to nothing way outside the framework of US$30-50/days. Actual travelling, doing all the great things available and enjoying the odd beer or two all adds up. If you are on a budget be mindful of your tendency [as a human] to underestimate costs and one-off expenses.

  • Enjoy. Carp Diem.

    Life is full of opportunities and obligations, fun and tribulations. You never know how much you can travel or when you will have the time, opportunity and money again. Enjoy you days on the road and take the rough with the smooth.

    We need to squeeze one more important one in: 11). Don't panic and don't forget your towel.

*TL;DR – a phrase commonly used on the website reddit, meaning ‘too long, didn't read’. Following TL;DR comes a very short summary.

"If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears."

— Cesare Pavese