(My) 12 Rules of Travel

I heard a fun podcast the other day about a person’s “12 Rules for Living.” I didn’t want to attempt a list that wide ranging, so instead I offer my 12 Rules of Travel.

Wishing you love and romance,


  1. Read a Book: It can be fiction or non-fiction–or my favorite, one of each–about the place you are visiting BEFORE you go. It will not only inform you about the place, but if you are a visual person like me, it will make you feel like you are walking in the book, which I think is SUPER fun. Some of my favorites (besides my own series, LOL)
  2. Eat the Local Specialty: Whether it’s Pigeon Pie in Morocco, Escargot in Paris, or Poke in Hawaii. Be sure to give the local specialties at least a bite. Food is the gateway to culture!
  3. Stay Near the Historic Center: If you are visiting a local that has a recognized “historic center”, they stay nearby. It makes it so much easier to get to the significant sites, especially with the limitation/elimination of car traffic that is happening in many of these centers.
  4. Sketch: My own sketches are always my fondest memories of a trip. They aren’t good, just a pencil or pen to a page in my journal, but they force me to sit for a period of time and REALLY watch what’s going around me, and I think that I like them just for that.
  5. Send Yourself a Postcard: It’s hard to beat a professional photograph, so I always purchase some postcards, jot my thoughts on them, and send them to myself in the mail. If you write anything profound on them, be sure to take a picture, since not all of my postcards have made it to my home!
  6. Build in Relaxation: If you are taking a long trip (3-weeks+) with a lot of active site-seeing, then plan your trip so your last three days are lazy, allowing you to decompress and make your trip home more pleasant. I like to do about eighteen days of INTENSE, walkathon type travel, and then three days at the sea.
  7. Have a Picnic: Get food to go from a farmer’s market or in the marketplace, and find a nice park to sit in (and then sketch too!). Some of my favorite meals have been had picnics: 1) on a bridge over a river in Ireland, 2) Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, 3) in the botanical gardens of Wellington, New Zealand.
  8. Get Lost: Don’t get DANGEROUSLY lost, but just ramble without purpose, explore; allow providence to expose you to surprises.
  9. Get the “Lay of the Land”: I love to find out if there is a bus that circles wherever I am visiting to give me an idea of how it’s laid out. Many European cities have a “tourist” bus, which is just a good way to get yourself situated. Other fun ways to do this are to rent a bike or go rollerblading. Although metros/subways are great for getting around, they give you no mental image in your head of the city, which can be very disorienting.
  10. Travel Alone: There is NOTHING like traveling alone. Your day is completely your own, you don’t have to negotiate with anyone. It’s super fun and I recommend it to everyone.
  11. Talk to Your Fellow Travelers: This is especially important when you are following #10 Travel Alone. When you travel, you will connect with people so quickly simply because you speak the same language. I have made some great friends while in line for various sites/museums. It’s like having a travel companion without any of the committment.
  12. Dress Appropriately: If you want to blend in, then dress appropriately, which means: don’t dress like a “tourist” and also, don’t dress the way you would at home. I always try to blend in, ESPECIALLY when I’m traveling alone. I think this is why I’ve never felt unsafe, because I don’t stand out as a tourist.
  13. BONUS TIP: If you are traveling in a country where “haggling” is common, then stuff your pockets with different amounts of money, and memorize where they are. For instance, $10 in your left pant pocket, $20 in your right pant pocket, $40 in your left jacket pocket, $100 in your right jacket pocket. That way, when you are haggling you can say, “But I only have $20 left” and then reach into your right pant pocket and fish it out and the seller will take you at your word. This works like a CHARM to keep the seller from attempting to keep raising the price.

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