11 Traveling Rules I've Broken Along The Way (don't do this!) - Love the Search
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11 May 11 Traveling Rules I’ve Broken Along The Way (don’t do this!)

This blog post comes with a warning and my intention isn’t to brag in any way. There are no rules set in stone for traveling the world. You learn them along the way. We step back and forth in and out of our comfort zones, taking tiny steps one at a time. Trusting our instincts, our gut feel, our inner voice or whatever we might call it. With time and practice, we eventually learn to adjust and feel more comfortable in unfamiliar places.
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Just as having a touristy itinerary bores the hell out of any adventurer, an overly strict set of rules also takes the fun out of the journey. So learn to gauge and adapt to situations and people’s behaviors. After all, the most memorable moments are always those spontaneous nights exploring unknown places with strangers you’ve just met.
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adventure, explore, dream, live, life, strangers, tinder, couchsurfing, travel, love, fear
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Here are 11 traveling rules I’ve completely broken (please don’t tell my mom):

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I’ve gone to strange new countries unprepared
While traveling across Southeast Asia and Latin America solo, I’ve started to cross borders unprepared; without a guidebook nor a hostel booking. Backpackers usually just show up to a place, walk around to find a hostel, which is what I did in Koh Chang. Unfortunately, it was Chinese New Year that weekend and everything was fully booked. I remember walking around the island with other travelers who arrived late on the ferry with me that night. Even the camping spots were bursting with tents and hammocks. After about a couple of hours of desperately searching, we found bungalows that were three times our budget, but at 1:00 am, we had to give-in.
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I’ve climbed mountains and hiked trails solo
I’m not a big hiker, but I love the feeling of being dwarfed by nature. I hiked the viewpoint in Nong Khiaw all by myself because my friends were always hungover or too lazy to come! It was amazing how the landscape and vegetation changed along the way. I got to the top, really proud of myself and chilled out with other hikers at the wooden hut all day. I made sure I hiked down before sunset, but was dumfounded to see a sign that read — UNEXPLODED BOMBS STILL IN THE AREA. If you really have to hike alone, just make sure you’ve researched your trail well and be back before dark. Letting someone know what time you should be back might also save your life.
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I ate streetfood and drink tap water
Thank goodness I’ve never had any problems with my stomach, even after traveling India where my friends remembered to brush their teeth with bottled water, yet still got the Delhi belly. I guess my digestive system is a little stronger than most. I grew up in a third world country where I eat streetfood and drink ice from unfiltered tap water. Some people I’ve traveled with are so careful, they don’t even order salad because they’re not sure of the quality of water the vegetables have been washed with. So some of them just end up ordering boiled rice. Yum. I don’t know how they can pass up a delicious plate of gado-gado or a halo-halo!
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adventure, explore, dream, live, life, strangers, tinder, couchsurfing, travel, love, fear, southeast asia
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I’ve walked alone at night many times
Because of food of course. And because sometimes you really don’t have a choice. In Puerto Viejo, all the taxis are unmarked, dodgy looking cars. You wonder, “Which is safer? Walking in the dark by myself or taking an unmarked cab with an unidentified driver?” I don’t know! My advice, try to walk with other travelers or worst case scenario, walk really fast and try not to look like a tourist. Let the receptionist or someone in your hostel know what time you’re supposed to be back at the hostel.
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I’ve gotten too drunk to remember anything
As a yoga teacher in my 30s, I no longer crave for alcohol. I’d rather #netflixandchill, really. But it was the Yi-Peng (lantern) Festival in Chiang Mai and the whole town was in a celebratory mood. We walked to 7-11 and bought a big bottle of Chang, a brand of beer with higher alcohol percentage than what I was used to. Let’s just say, I made very bad choices that night. Never ever get too wasted to know your way home, even if you’re with friends you trust completely!
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I wear skimpy clothes
It was scorching hot in Cartagena, Colombia early in January. 32*C to be exact. So I wore my skimpiest shorts, my yoga top and of course, was catcalled by the locals the whole time. I tried to ignore each comment “Hola, chinita! Guapa! Vamos a mi cama!” as I tried to appreciate the colonial surroundings. But at the end of the day, I walked back to my hostel, sick to my stomach because of all the bad energy I absorbed. In these situations, either you die of heat wearing conservative clothes, or just completely ignore everyone’s comments. It’s really your choice.
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adventure, explore, dream, live, life, strangers, tinder, couchsurfing, travel, love, fear, colombia, latin america, south america
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I’ve cussed out catcallers
I’m only human! I’ve lost my cool many times and given some people the finger or yelled out obscenities at them. Our mood swings day to day, sometimes you’re in control and sometimes you just can’t tolerate any more sh*t from these sad losers. But I realized, this is how women get into nasty confrontations, so I really have to work on restraining myself when I hear rude or malicious comments. There were times I imagined that they are talking to someone else, not I and it has worked. I kept my head down and walked away. Simple as that.
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I’ve trusted strangers with my valuables (and my life)
Hitching rides on the back of motorbikes is probably the biggest gamble I do on a regular basis. I’ve gotten in a few accidents, all in Indonesia. The worst one landed me in the ER with scrapes all over my body and a head concussion from riding with a drunk driver. I’ve learned to take my bicycle everywhere with me instead!
 
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adventure, explore, dream, live, life, strangers, tinder, couchsurfing, travel, love, fear, bali, southeast asia
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I’ve Tindered
Yup, a lot actually. I’ve met up with a handful of guys in public places of course. Most were pretty cool, just a few a**holes. Tinder can be a pretty amazing traveling app if you use it the right way. Just make your intentions clear in your profile and be sure that you don’t talk to them in such a flirty way that they build certain expectations. Mine specifically reads: “Not here for sex. Just looking for travel buddies and rock climbing partners.” I’ve met loads of guys who have become awesome friends over time.
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I’ve traveled without ANY insurance
This is a big no-no! They say that if you can’t afford travel insurance then you can’t really afford to travel at all. I want it, but I haven’t really found a company that has convinced me. I’m willing to sacrifice a chunk of my hard earned savings for security. But I’m not completely sold whenever I read the fine print. For example, did you know that you’ll need to file a proper incident and police report to claim for theft or robbery? But what if you didn’t have the time for that? Also, they wont reimburse your medical bills if you’ve been found driving a motorbike without a proper licence and helmet. But the reality is, no one really cares in Indonesia where people start driving at the age of 9.
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I went to places tagged with adverse travel warnings
Have you heard of the Darien Gap, a thick impenetrable tropical jungle that separates Central and South America? It’s the only break on the Pan-American Highway that stretches from Alaska all the way to the tip of Patagonia. The area has always been notorious for drug cartel activities, various rebel groups and kidnappings. I could’ve spent less and flown from Panama city to Bogota, but at that time it just seemed too safe of an option. I wanted adventure and I got it.
adventure, explore, dream, live, life, strangers, tinder, couchsurfing, travel, love, fear, laos, southeast asia.
So if you’re a newbie solo female traveler, please learn from my mistakes and do the opposite of what I’ve done. Always do your research, don’t eat streetfood, stick to your travel buddies, dress and act appropriately. Like I said, until you feel more comfortable and slowly start taking your guards down to trust yourself in new surroundings and strangers everyday.
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Safe journeys, mi amiga!
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