31 Lessons I’ve learned while traveling this year….

Yesterday I turned 31. Wow, that’s hard to write (even harder to say) and it reminds me just how fast life really passes by. When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to get older, and now that I’m getting older, I am afraid (or maybe just not quite ready) to finally grow up. I hope to always keep that child-like spirit, but there’s this nagging clock ticking in the back of my head telling me that maybe it’s time to start thinking about putting the suitcases away and go back to a “normal” life. For anyone that has traveled as I have (and I’m not talking about a vacation, but actually living out of your suitcase for months on end and making the world your home) maybe you can relate to the feeling of no longer knowing what “normal” is. Traveling is “normal” for me, and maybe it means sacrificing other things now (a permanent home, a family, a dog maybe) but I know in time, life will let me know when I’m ready to take on that next adventure. As I look back on this past year since turning gulp…. “30”  I thought it would be fun to share a few lessons I’ve learned about myself, traveling, life, love and whatever else I can count down from 31…….starting with

31. LIZ!!!! Alcohol, you, and rocking boats do NOT mix well together. When are you going to finally learn? Spending the morning of your birthday praying to the porceline god serves you right. In the words of Red on “That Seventy’s Show,” DUMBASS!!!

30. Some days you’re the bug, some days you’re the windshield. (From the chief stewardess of my first boat)

29. If a camel is hissing, don’t try to get on it. It doesn’t matter how cool you think the photo will turn out later.

My unhappy camel friend in Jerusalem

28. White jacket, white boots, white turtleneck. Yes..all very stylish winter attire. But NOT while traveling, unless you like to look like a hobo all the time. Lesson learned. Don’t buy white clothing.

27. Yes, the rumors are true. Italians are extremely persistent (from climbing up 3 stories to the balcony of my hotel room. to waiting on the dock outside my boat for 4hrs, or watching me sleep for 2 hrs waiting to talk to me when I woke up on the beach.) In movies it’s romantic….in real life a little creepy. Handle them with extreme caution or change your hair color.

26. Hot wax is well….hot. And dirty. Next time….just let the woman hold her own torch!!!

Come on baby light my fire.....lighting of the torches at Hogmany

27. What is he wearing under there??? No underwear (on New years in the freezing cold.) Yes boys…the kilt and the accent is sexy. What’s under there (or the lack) is not too impressive. Kilt flipping contests on New Years Eve in Scotland……not one of your brightest ideas.

25. “Craic” in Ireland is not the same as “crack” babies or “crack” whores. It’s a cool word to use when it’s not drug related.

24. Breaking your ribs, REALLLLLLLY hurts!!!! And can really put a damper on a snowboarding trip. Not advisable. Travel Insurance…probably advisable.

23. Wearing headphones or a fake wedding ring (or both) while walking through markets in Israel makes dealing with the shop keepers much easier. Huh…Sorry?? Did you say something??

22. In my humble opinion, Hungary has one of the coolest “cheers” ever. Egészségedre!!! Come on say it. It’s not as hard as it looks.

21. Pista really does burn as much coming out as it does going in…use it sparingly.

20. Snail pie really is as disgusting as it sounds. Don’t let the flaky pie crust fool you. Stick to the gnocchi!!!

The leftover snail after I ate the crust around it.

19. When in Malta…..must eat more Pastizzi. So cheap…so yummy and you will miss them when you’re gone.

18. ATM machines in Montenegro are extremely high. If you are under 6 feet and traveling there, you may want to invest in a portable step-ladder.

17. Speaking of which, the view is always better at the top!!! Come on and get your lazy ars up there! It has never let you down so far.

16. When someone wants to do something nice for you, let them. Just remember to pay it forward. Keep the love flowing around the world!!

15. Not everyone is going to like you or get along with you, but there are plenty of people who do. Focus on them.

14. Sometimes in dirty hostels, it IS necessary to sleep with shoes on, unless you want to walk barefoot on toilet-water soaked carpet.

Dad being a good sport in probably the filthiest hostel in Europe. But it still didn't spoil the fun in Bruge

13. Breath, relax, enjoy! ( From my first scuba diving lesson)

12. A simple “thank-you” goes a long way. It doesn’t count if you just think it, sometimes people need to hear it!

11. Bakeries at 4a.m. are a nice warm place to go if you get locked out (or maybe just don’t feel like going back)

10. Emergency hatches with expensive paintings covering them do NOT make a good entrance in the middle of the night when you do get locked out.

9. Electronics such as cameras, IPODS, computers, televisions etc. generally don’t like wet things. Always make sure you have everything backed up. (And probably best to keep Liz away from liquids.)

8. Earplugs are extremely handy to have (especially in crowded dorm rooms or when sharing a room with your dad.)

7. Always be grateful for every new experience (good or bad) It’s an experience, and just another lesson learned.

6. Nutella left over from other guests in the hostels make AWESOME brownies!!!!

5. You feel much more awkward in thermal baths wearing clothes then you do without. (Sorry, guys you’re not allowed in, but wrinkly women with saggy boobs? Do you really want to go there?)

4. Un-sent postcards make the best souvenirs. Sorry to all that are still waiting patiently, but they’ve become part of a growing collection.

3. Double up on laundry while you’re in the shower…..you’ll never run out of clean undies (just make sure you have time to let them air dry, and you don’t have a line of people waiting to use the bathroom behind you.)

2. Smile (as often as possible) The world does smile back at you.

1. “No one can spend their whole life traveling…not physically no, but they can on a spiritual plane. Going further and further, distancing yourself from
your personal history, from what you were forced to become… As we tell our story, we say goodbye to what we were and, as you’ll see if you try, we create space for a new unknown world.” Paulo Coehlo

So there you have it. So much learned, and still so many more lessons to come. Hope you’ve enjoyed the journey so far! I know I have.

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