Travel tips for you and for me

1 September 2020
1 Sep 2020
West Lafayette, IN
9 mins

At the start of this year, I set out on a six-month-long work-travel trip, planning to spend about a week in at least twenty different cities around the world. As you might guess, the pandemic cut the trip short, and I had to return home halfway through.

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

But in those three months, I saw and experienced and learned a lot, and I discovered that I love the way the scenery around me changes often in such a nomadic lifestyle. I’m hoping to spend the next summer finishing the second half of my trip, visiting the cities I didn’t get a chance to in 2020.

People sometimes ask me what I learned during these trips, and while I want to save the big ideas and grand notions until I’ve checked all twenty off my list, I picked up some tips and advice along the way that I want to remember for myself. I’m sharing them here, with you, in case it’s helpful in putting together your very own grand, soul-searching travels!

I’ve divided this list into three big parts: how to stay prepared, how to meet people, and how to do things and go places. Although the pandemic makes some of this advice less applicable today, I hope to be able to come back to this list the next time I set off on a major trip.

Staying prepared

Meeting people

Going places, doing things

Oh, and because people always ask me where I went, here were my first 9 cities.

  1. Tucson, Arizona (3 days)
  2. Los Angeles, California (a week)
  3. Kochi, Kerala, India (a week)
  4. New York City, New York (6 days)
  5. Boston, Massachusetts (a week)
  6. Edinburgh, Scotland (a week)
  7. Glasgow, Scotland (day trip)
  8. London, England (10 days)
  9. Reykjavik, Iceland (2 days)

I showed up to most of these places with little preparation and a working smartphone, and I had a great time most days. It’s not hard these days to travel through big cities with some on-the-spot help from Google Maps and Twitter. But no matter how much you plan, leave some room for serendipity – allow yourself to stay somewhere a little longer, or sneak into a restaurant that looks really good even if you didn’t plan to eat there, or re-book a stay so you can enjoy one more day at a place you really like.

My last thought and lesson is that, whenever you can’t decide what to do, you should consider choosing the option that would make a better story. Those choices tend to be more high-reward, more interesting, more useful for getting new perspectives, and if nothing else, obviously make for better stories when you return. There are a handful of my own stories from my spring trip that I always go back to that have helped me connect with people, get inspired, and keep me curious.

Diagon Alley, Old Town Edinburgh


If you enjoyed this piece, you might also enjoy my next post, To build a community, elevate the storytellers.

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