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16 Rules of Travel No One Tells You But Should

16 Rules of Travel No One Tells You But Should: Photo courtesy of reidontravel.com

Photo courtesy of reidontravel.com

There’s a good amount of water-downed articles and silly guides on how to score the best travel deals, and which credit card will get you the most air miles. But there’s rarely a rule book about how to culturally experience a trip in the best way possible. Travel expert and National Geographic writer Robert Reid is obviously the go-to person when it comes to globe trotting, and In 2009 he wrote “44 Little Travel Rules No One Tells you,” and he just posted 44 more rules he thought travelers should also know.

Here’s 16 tips from both his 2009 and 2015 piece that I think are worth paying attention to, and some you probably should avoid. I could have used these when I was lost in the mountains of Kosovo, being chased by hungry, wild mountain dogs with 6 others who barely spoke English. Yes, that actually happened.

Rules you should keep in your back pocket

  1. There is no right way to travel.
  2. No one agrees what’s truly “authentic” about a place. But if you’re near fudge or taffy, you’re probably not where it’s at.
  3. Doubt all criticism you hear of a place. Starting with your own.
  4. The secret to becoming a great traveler is your local bus. If you can take a bus in your hometown – figure out the route, where the stop is, how to pay the fare – you pretty much can travel anywhere in the world on your own.
  5. In your “travel life,” go to a few places you don’t want to.
  6. Read a book about your destination before going.
  7. Home is the ultimate destination. It’s sort of why we travel in the first place — to see where you’re from with a bigger point of view. Plus it’s just more comfortable pottying in a familiar place.
  8. Travel is not a contest. Have fun.
  9. It’s OK to have an opinion of a place, but don’t think you ‘know’ a place after spending two/15/306 days there.
  10. Try a couple days without the camera or email.
  11. Museums can be great, but are overrated as day-filler attractions.
  12. Buy a hat. Always buy a locally made hat.
  13. Agree on a price before you close the door with any taxi — that is, if they have a door.
  14. Tip appropriate to local custom.
  15. Traveling alone is something everyone should do at least once.
  16. Most “travel experts” travel on itineraries organized by destination marketing people who meet them at the airport – then whisk them off into air-conditioned vans for a guided looksie. In other words, it’s not clear whether they’re really travel experts.

Rules you probably could avoid

  1. It’s totally fine to use a selfie stick. Just be prepared to be mocked a little.
    -I’m a “maybe” on this one. I can’t decide if a picture is worth your soul.
  2. Popularity is often a pretty bad way to consider travel destinations. Or movies. Did anyone even like Avatar?
    -Not necessarily true. Asking locals popular cities to go to and even dining destinations led to some of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
  3. Socks-with-sandals is underrated.
    -Absolutely not. No. Never. Just stop.
  4. Squat toilets are better than sit-down toilets. But it really is still best keeping toilets and showers segregated.
    -Once you’ve squatted over a hole in Macedonia with no walls separating you from your neighbor, you appreciate sit-down toilets A LOT more.

Check out the rest of Robert’s 2009 travel rules, and his updated list.


Nicole Theodore is an editorial assistant at Playboy.com. She really did get chased by wild mountain dogs, and obviously lived to tell about it. Follow her on Twitter.

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