Things I wish I knew before traveling for a long time
I have been traveling in South East Asia for nine months and here are some tips on travel.
Things I wish I knew before traveling.
The first, and possibly most relevant is that I thought if I were going backpacking, I would have to travel with a backpack. This is completely false. Unless you are actually doing some hiking with everything you own GET A WHEEL BAG! I hate the backpack, with a passion, I think I will be feeling the effects of trying to constantly carry everything I own for the rest of my life. The few times you have to carry your wheel bag do not out weigh having a consistently heavy back.
The next thing I wish I knew before leaving is that you can only get an international drivers license in your home country. This really doesn't effect much in Asia, it would just help when trying to rent a car, or getting pulled over by corrupt cops when on a motorbike. The real reason I wish I had it is so I could've done live mario cart in Tokyo.
Number three is that you should pack basically nothing. If you think you are going to be traveling for a long time, the less you should have. I thought that sense I would only have one bag, I needed to fill it with my favorite clothing items because that is all I would have. After only 3 months I found myself getting rid of all of my favorite things, and now I only have my camera, my laptop, and the rest of my bag consist of things I have collected. I wish I knew that I would want to buy things to fill the bag and I didn't have to ditch my most prized items. If you are going to Asia, maybe consider bringing clothing items that are too big for Asians (shoes and pants). That purse I brought that turns in the a fanny pack or backpack is completely useless, and I should've just seen what I needed when I am out here.
The next is that is not crazy to look up horror stories of the places you are going, it is good to know the worst case scenario. Had I known that motorcycle thieves will take your phone if you hold it up looking at a map, I might of thought twice. Maybe if I knew Muslims in Bali will publicly shame you for showing your shoulders as a women, maybe I would have skipped Jakarta. I thought that sense I am so optimistic I didn't want to accept that some places wouldn't be worth it, but a little research into the negative goes a long way.
Last and most important, pick your travel partners very carefully. I have been on my own for the better part of a year, but I have made some friends and had some visitors. Most of the friends I have made have been good travel partners and the visitors I have had were miserable; this is no coincidence. The friends you make on the way already understand that travel isn't always easy, where as the friends that visit expect it to be as beautiful as the instagram photos. I have learned that when someone comes on your journey for a week they expect you to be there travel guide for their vacation. This would be fine if I was living where they were visiting, but we were exploring a new area together, and they would get livid that I didn't know the lay of the land. I found myself saying things like, "No, I don't know what that sign says, I don't read Thai." or "How was I supposed to know what this ferry cost, I have never been here." It might seem like a good idea to have the girl who went clubbing with you in Miami to visit the party islands, but she doesn't understand what being in a different country means and you will end up paying a shit load of money to watch her take instagram photos to look like she's having the best time and stomp around being miserable and blaming you because she doesn't understand money conversions and 100 baht sounds like allot.
I know that this seems like a negative post, but it is a good bit of information to help you have the best time. I will be exploring Europe after this, and I have loved every minute of my travels. Even the hard stuff just becomes a fun puzzle, and even the bad visitors are fun to play tricks on and watch them stumble around helpless. I have found it takes a certain kind of person to survive anywhere, and I am happy to report I have passed that test