Even if we don’t think of them this way, we all have rules. They could also be called codes, ethics or guidelines.
Aside from my basic principles (aka don’t be a dick), I’ve developed a few new ones that are specifically for hitting the road for 5 months in Asia!
1. Everything is going to be okay
Yes, I’m leaving my ‘big girl job’ that I was lucky to get in the first place. I’ll probably come back to America with basically no money and have to start all over again. I might get sick. I might hate it and struggle with ‘the failure’ of coming back. Something might go wrong with my Workaways and, if we’re being honest here, I’m definitely going to get lost. Probably a few times. Okay, several times. Alright, most of the time I will be lost. This will be stressful, I’m sure…but it’s going to be okay. Even if I ‘fail’ and come home. Even if I come back and can’t get back into the professional workforce. Even if I run out of money abroad. Everything is going to be okay.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff
For me, one of the best things about traveling is the lack of total, chaotic urgency. In my day to day life where I’m juggling deadlines, projects, caring for a house, utility bills, and all the other ‘real life stresses’ the smallest thing going wrong can sometimes cause a whole day to be wasted.
I’m not wasting time on this trip! No, sirry! If there’s no bus today, I’ll go tomorrow. If that place is closed, I’ll come back later. If they don’t have what I’m looking for, I didn’t need it anyway. Zen. As. Fuck.
3. Eat it, drink it
I can be a picky eater sometimes. I’m also a huge wimp when it comes to spices. My favorite food, sushi, was once the object of jests and the butt of jokes. It took me being stuck, starving, and surrounded by coworkers I wanted approval from, at a restaurant that only served sushi, to try it. I love it so much now that I’ve considered a sushi tattoo. My motto now is “I’ll try it”.
Watch my younger self eat a tentacle.
4. Talk to strangers
When asking my mom what some of her concerns were for this trip, she said:
“You’re too trusting! Always have been. I picked you up from school once, 5 or 6, and the school nurse leaned in and told me ‘I know everything about you.’ Oh, and then there was that time I woke up and you were telling the operator on the phone everything about us!”
She’s right, I’m a naturally trusting person. I also choose to be that way. I don’t want to live with my guard up all the time. Until you hurt me, I’ll probably trust you.
My first time at burning man, I was staying with the ABC Camp. This was run by a guy in his 40’s, his wife and some of his friends. I’d never met any of them or the other camp members except online. “I’m going to go to this festival in the desert with these people I met on the internet…I’m sure it will be fine!” – and fine it was. I’m still close friends with almost everyone in the camp. The camp leader and other founders are like family to me.
I’ve met strangers through craigslist, on burner buses, on public transit in Chicago and online, and most of them are some of the most supportive people in my life. That being said, I trust my intuition more then any stranger. I trust it to serve me well on this adventure!
5 Remember where I came from and give back
I’ll be the first to admit that being able to go on this trip was a combination of hard work and good luck. I want to remember the days when all I could afford to eat was spaghetti. Take the time to make paper flowers for little girls. Bring joy to others as much as I can.
Do you have any rules of the road that make your travel experience better? I’d love to hear them! I want to get the most out of this trip!
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