6 Lessons I Learnt From Ignoring All Travel Advice
Have you ever decided to do something exciting only to have someone you barely know approach you with a furrowed brow, shaking their head solemnly, muttering…’oof, are you sure that’s a good idea?’
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When I decided to travel alone to South America I was confronted daily by worried people who seemed to think I was going to die. It was quite the downer.
In between all the smiling and nodding at the increasingly bonkers ‘wisdom’ they imparted, I resolved to do one thing – ignore every bit of travel advice offered.
This approach backfired of course, but here are some of the lessons I learnt in the process…
1. Forward-planning pays off
Winging it through life is a wonderful strategy when time constraints don’t apply.
However, when there are a lot of things to see and do and you have no idea what direction to point your body in, a little forethought goes a long way. Closing your eyes and hoping for the best doesn’t tend to have the best success rate.
Don’t tell your Mum but she’s right – you can’t expect to maximise your time or experience of a place if all you’ve done is shrug and wander towards it.
Turns out thinking things through can be beneficial.
2. Only do things you enjoy
While we all like to puff our chests out and believe we’re Steve Irwin incarnate, the truth is we all have our limits – physical and otherwise.
Choosing what you do with your time is your business. Some people like to put their lungs under intense stress with physical activity – other people get their kicks floating on a lilo for six hours straight.
You do you.
Life’s too short to fill your time with activities you despise.
3. It’s important to look after your body
Note to self: raw food interspersed with unidentifiable rodent kebabs grilled over oil barrels may be high in protein, but the Diet of Kings it is not.
I don’t like being told what to ingest – especially when it involves my diet or anything else I choose to swallow.
But it turns out you can’t skip through life plucking berries off bushes and taking every pill someone presses into your sweaty palm – you will get burnt, or you will soil yourself.
You have one body. Treat it with the respect it deserves.
4. It pays to be a little suspicious
The kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing indeed, but not every stranger wants to gift you a currant bun and point you in the right direction.
It’s a fact of life that some people are excellent, and some…well, some want to wank at you and sniff your sheets.
A healthy dose of suspicion never hurt anyone.
5. Don’t worry too much about what other people think
I decided to ignore everything because I was insulted that people thought I needed such obvious advice.
Really, who cares?
In a world where opinions are too often hateful – it’s probably best to let it go when someone just wants to voice their concerns to you about unwashed salad.
Time spent dwelling on how others perceive you is time you’ll never get back.
6. Advice (from the right people) is handy
I wanted to believe I knew everything. It’s safe to say I didn’t.
Having to learn new things every single day is an annoying (and exhausting) part of the human experience.
Sure, you can choose to see how long it takes you to reach the right conclusion of your own accord.
Or, if you want to get there quicker, you can seek out the advice of people you respect, who have been in your shoes. It will save you a lot of hassle, money, and embarrassment – trust me.
By Amy Baker
For more on Amy's adventures in travelling, make sure to check out her book 'Miss-adventures: A Tale of Ignoring Life Advice While Backpacking Around South America'.