Tim’s Travel Tips, Part Two

Here are the rest of my current travel tips.  This is what works for me, but clearly not for everyone.  Still, if you’re used to traveling “on the beaten path,” try one of the tips from this post or the first one in this series and you might be surprised how it changes your view of travel.  Or perhaps you’ll sign up for one of my tours someday.

Travel Slowly

When possible, take the bus or train instead of a flight.  Walk or bike instead of taking a taxi.  Ride on a motorbike or tuk-tuk and enjoy the fresh air and smiling faces of the people you pass in the street.  Stay in a place for a week or month or three months.  Immerse yourself in the culture by volunteering or working.  Learn to live there and learn some of the language.  

Whether traveling solo or with a friend or group, I quickly grow bored hopping from hotel to hotel and city to city every two-three days.  Vicky Ann and I are doing that now and after one week already felt the need to slow down.  We will continue to see as much as possible, but overall the balance of my year abroad will be spent by living for weeks or months at a time in specific places.  

Use and Reuse Everything  

“This is last night’s restaurant napkin,” she said as she wiped off her glasses after a long night on the train.  Vicky Ann saves sugar packets, all of the hotel toiletries, and reuses every single plastic bag we have encountered.  As a matter of fact, she gets excited when she gets another bag from the store and already plans its use before she empties it.  She has been carrying around the empty shampoo bottle I left behind three weeks ago, just in case.  (Correction:  I’ve just been informed that the bottle is now carrying conditioner siphoned from various hotels we’ve stayed in.)

“Sure wish this place had some sugar packets I could take.”

I’ve realized that I’ve become a lazy traveler in some ways.  I don’t want to save things because I think it will weigh me down, but more than once I’ve had a snack of cranberries from Connecticut, or airplane cookies collected on the journey here, or used an extra bag Vicky Ann had on her.  I did have a chuckle, however, when I caught her stuffing her used wet wipe from the restaurant back into the plastic wrapper.  “It’s perfect for wiping my feet off after the beach.”  I don’t know if I’ll ever be that resourceful, but I’m getting better thanks to my travel companion.  

Live in the Moment  

I’ve never seen anyone do this better than Vicky Ann.  She wakes up talking about how excited she is to walk on the beach or get on a train.  She may fret over whether or not she has the right change for the taxi, or some days she asks me repeatedly where we’re going the next day and how we’re getting there,  but usually she just takes deep breaths and talks about how happy she is.  Her positive energy is infectious and I’m learning to not think so much about everything else and to just enjoy the moment.  Granted, that’s easier now that I am officially finished with my Fulbright work, but it’s something I’ll try to take with me in the future.

Meet People  

I like my time alone, but some of the most memorable travel experiences I’ve had are when I’ve met people on the road.  Talking to locals or other travelers makes me feel more connected to a place and usually makes me want to return to it.  It’s easy to do this with someone like Vicky Ann, who talks to just about every person she encounters, from hotel staff to children, train conductors, cafe workers, street vendors and more.

We met this boy on the ferry to Siem Reap. He works selling drinks and snacks during the seven-hour ride.
And this is our favorite server at our favorite hotel! We had a great time getting to know him.

Avoid Stereotypes

You will be ripped off.  Some people will be rude.  Drivers will cut you off or nearly run you over.  You will be charged more simply for being from another place.  Don’t let these experiences lead you to form stereotypes about the people of that place.  Remember, all of the negative things that happen when you travel probably happen in your hometown.  Understand that you will not always be happy and feel respected, but remember that these moments are temporary.  There are amazing people to meet all over the world!

If you haven’t traveled down the dirt roads of a city, then you haven’t seen what life is really like there.

Cut Your Losses

I love a bargain as much as anyone, probably more than the average person.  Sometimes, though, there isn’t a bargain to be had, or the lady on the corner charges you triple what it should cost for a bottle of water.  Let these things go as soon as they happen.  It’s not worth the energy to be angry over missing a cheaper deal or getting ripped off.  And sometimes, these experiences lead to unexpected things that would never have happened otherwise.  

Sometimes taking risks leads to making new friends.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. You’ll find great people wherever you travel.

Coming soon:  Some of my favorite sites and apps for travel research and deals.

Comments (18):

  1. Betty Pacelle

    January 30, 2017 at 11:18

    Hi Tim & Vicky Ann,
    I am amazed at all the wonderful experiences you are having. Thank you so much for sharing and posting all that you do. Well, we are going to be having a special experience here soon. I don’t know if you know this, but Janis I’s retirement party is this Saturday (2/4). Since you obviously can’t be there, I was wondering if you would like to send a video that I could share? She is going to be surprised with a couple of videos that I have already received, too. Just thought I’d throw that idea out there, in case you wanted to send her a message. Don’t feel pressured, though. I know you are on the go constantly. In any event, we miss you at PMS and are thankful that you are doing so well in your travels.
    Take care,
    Betty P.

  2. LInda A Wight

    January 30, 2017 at 12:46

    Love all the trip tips. I like your openness with people. VIcky Ann, you make a great companion. Slowing down is good too. Enjoy your travels. LInda

    • Tim Flanagan

      February 2, 2017 at 05:42

      Thanks from Tim and Vicky Ann

  3. Rosie

    January 30, 2017 at 13:47

    Thanks for taking us along! Vicky Ann truly has brought new experiences and deepened friendship. Continue to enjoy your time.

    • Tim Flanagan

      February 2, 2017 at 05:43

      Thank you!

  4. Cindy J Cassidy

    January 30, 2017 at 18:03

    Tim, remember when VickyAnn used to collect all of our “scraps” at lunch to give to the chickens? She’s become the chicken… saving the “scraps” for another time. I thought your last travel tips were great – these are even better. I’m glad that VickyAnn is behaving, but more importantly that she is a source of joy and learning while on your journey. Hugs to the both of you for teaching us about the beauty, the moments, and the happiness that have found their way into your travels!

    • Tim Flanagan

      February 2, 2017 at 05:44

      As always, you are spot on!

  5. Millie

    January 30, 2017 at 20:29

    Does Vicky Ann’s hoarding of the sugar packs remind you of anyone? Maybe your sister Anne will chime in.
    Love the stories and great tips for travel or just plain everyday life!

    • anne

      January 31, 2017 at 07:48

      Grandma Flanagan emptying the caddies at the diner sugar packets and jelly packets I don’t think she ever bought a jar of jelly or a bag of sugar in her life.

      • Tim Flanagan

        February 2, 2017 at 05:48

        I am traveling with Grandma Flanagan. I never knew she was this much fun!

    • Tim Flanagan

      February 2, 2017 at 05:45

      I knew you and Anne would see the hidden meaning here. At least she doesn’t give me wet kisses like Grandma Flanagan!

  6. Lori Liguori

    January 30, 2017 at 20:41

    You two make me smile!!!! Love reading your adventures!!!!! Keep them coming!!!! Miss you both!

    • Tim Flanagan

      February 2, 2017 at 05:46

      Only a few days left, and then no more Vicky Ann stories. What will I do?

  7. Betsy

    January 30, 2017 at 20:50

    Love this post! You two are inspiring

    • Tim Flanagan

      February 2, 2017 at 05:47


  8. Claribel

    February 5, 2017 at 09:50

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it 😉
    I am going to return once again since i have book marked it.
    Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you
    be rich and continue to guide others.

  9. Deidre

    February 5, 2017 at 14:14

    Great advice on not just how to travel, but how to live life! Can use those tips right here at home.
    What an adventure you are on and no doubt you would be the perfect travel guide someday Tim!
    Love the photos. Just beautiful to see the joy on so many beautiful faces.

    • Tim Flanagan

      February 9, 2017 at 10:42

      I agree about the faces – and their joy is contagious.


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