Picked this up over at motorcycleramblings.com – it’s advice from a book by Tim Cahill – which you should go buy immediately.

The following is an excerpt from Tim Cahill´s book Hold the Enlightenment. I would like to reproduce a good portion of it hear, assuming that he will not mind as long as I make a shameless plug for his books.

Tim Cahill’s Travel 101

  • Have a quest. You really want to meet indigenous folks, understand their concerns, find out how things work, make friends. You don’t do this in the company of English-speakers. So have a quest, some bit of business that will shove you into the cultural maelstrom… Perhaps you are interested in trains, or motorcycle clubs, or ecological issues. Find locals who share your passion. You’ll make friends.
  • You will be bored. Bring a big book.
  • Stop whining, no one wants to hear it.
  • Read guidebooks and books by local authors and expect them to be wrong or out of date.
  • It ain’t about the money. There are places where you are expected to bargain and sharpies who want to take advantage of you. Unfortunately, too many people who think of themselves as “world travelers” become obsessed with money. Too often money, and the process of saving money, becomes the entire point of traveling. If the nature of your quest is financial, stay home and get into arbitrage.
  • Thinking of your hosts as “natives” who can be “spoiled” dehumanizes people and creates the kind of abyss that is impossible to bridge with friendship.
  • Try the local foods. Eat what is put in front of you.
  • Learn the rudiments of the local language.
  • You are the foreigner, dickweed.
  • The “natives” have their pride.
  • Schedule a rest day every now and then. Contrary to what you read, insights seldom happen at the summit of a mountain, at the moment a whale is sighted, or in the face of some overwhelming bit of landscape.
  • The worse the experience, the better the story.
  • There are no bad experiences.
  • I first got into Tim Cahill’s books when I overheard someone at a Horizons Unlimited meeting talk about his book Road Fever which recounts a world record run in a car from Argentina to Alaska. Hilarious!