Round-the-World Travel: Staying Calm and Positive on the Road

This is a Hipmunk guest post from Jodi Ettenberg, a former lawyer who is traveling (and eating!) her way around the world, one country at a time. Her views and opinions are hers alone and do not represent Hipmunk. You can follow Jodi on her Legal Nomads blog.

 This is Part 3 of my Hipmunk guest series about round-the-world travel.

Staying Calm and Positive on the Road

These are more philosophical than practical, but are equally important when the sights, smells and chaos of a new place overwhelm you.

1) Give yourself a few days to adjust before making judgments about a new place. You usually arrived tired from the trip and less open minded than usual. Give yourself a chance to warm to it before you decide to leave. Initially I didn’t enjoy my time in Bangkok but after getting out of the main tourist areas and living in the middle of street food heaven, I found myself enthralled with the city. Sometimes the places that make the worst first impressions end up being your favorites.

2) Learning a few words of the local goes a long way. This is helpful not just to get what you need, but also to break the ice in a new place. I’d also and make sure that the translation of “no problem” is on that brief list – it’s a surefire way to get a smile!

3) Don’t sweat the small stuff. Clichéd, but true. The sooner you start to weigh down your days with resentment or anger at things that cannot change, the sooner you’ll want to leave. Things will not go as planned, but that’s part of the adventure, and oftentimes they really do work out in the end. Save the stress and the anger for the things that really matter.  

This goat chased me up the street in Indonesia. Instead of having a temper tantrum, I stayed calm. And I ran. As fast as I possibly could.

 

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4) Build a vacation into your vacation. When I came home for the holidays in 2009, people asked me how my vacation was going. I explained that my round-the-world travels were my life, and my time home was my vacation. Travel in developing countries can be tiring and it can be frustrating, and there are times when you really do need to give yourself a break. Whether that means sitting on a beach for a week and relaxing or treating yourself to a nice meal every so often or upgrading your hotel to something different, figure out what you need to give your brain and body a break, and then indulge in it once in a while.

5) Experiment with food and markets. Experiencing the world through food is by far my preferred method of traveling, and the best ways to do so are to parachute into a busy market in a new place and see what’s what. From the bustling, colorful morning shopping on Inle Lake in Burma to the teeming animal markets of Otavalo in Ecuador, markets led me to new explorations in food and a connection to locals that I would have otherwise missed.

Somtam salad from Chiang Mai, Thailand: delicious and nutritious! 

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6) Remember that the travel community is very active online, and will happily provide advice and support whenever you need it. Prior to starting a blog, I had no idea that there was such a robust, supportive community of fellow travelers out there who were available to provide advice and suggestions. For those who aren’t planning to write about their trip but are active in social media, Twitter is an excellent place to get off-the-cuff accommodation picks, food suggestions and people to meet along the way.

Thus concludes my guest post about travel tips for the round-the-world travelers.

Please feel free to leave any additional questions in the comments – I’d be happy to answer them.

-Jodi