10 of the Best Little Travel Secrets Every Wanderer Should Know

If you haven’t ventured out on a backpacking trip on your own before – or on one at all – there are definitely some secrets you should know beforehand:

1. Fanny packs are back.

If you’re traveling through a capital city, or somewhere that’s reputably dangerous, your fanny pack will be your best friend. And don’t vote for fashion here: no fun, neon pink American Apparel fanny packs.

Get a thin, black boring one that goes directly against your body and wear it under your t-shirt. Keep your wallet, the bulk of your cash, and your smart phone in it.

2. Make a fake wallet.

You’ll probably never need to use this little thing, but having it should make you feel better. Have a throw away wallet with some old bank cards that are no longer active, with about $20 American bucks in it.

If anyone bothers you, threatens you, or asks you for your belongings, you can say, here, this is all I’ve got, and the entire interaction will probably be over quickly. Besides, all your goodies – like, the stuff that’s actually important – is in your fanny pack, remember?

3. If you go on a long bus ride where your bag is not directly next to you…

Keep everything worth any value on you. A lot of these long bus rides (especially overnight buses) are notoriously known for turning a blind eye to locals hopping on and sifting through backpacks to steal expensive items.

I got off an overnight bus once and all of some girl’s makeup was gone. Goddamn, she musta had some nice ass makeup.

The only valuable things you should have with you are your Passport, phone, and bank card. If you’re packin’ more than that, we’ve got a problem here.

4. Leave your map and confused face at home.

Even if you have no f*cking idea where you are, pretend like you do. If someone who doesn’t look trustworthy comes up to you and asks if you need help, tell them you’re fine.

It’s safer to go into a shop to ask for directions. In certain countries, locals like to take advantage of tourists – especially lost-looking ones. Hey, fake it til ya make it.

5. You won’t dress the same way you do at home.

If you’re going somewhere hot, bring lots of loose tank tops and skirts. You can re-wear tank tops like they’re goin’ outta style because your sweaty pits have air to breathe – it takes, like, a million wears for a tank top to be really dirty.

Same goes for skirts, as opposed to shorts or pants. Think about it: tight shorts + 100 degrees = swampy ass. You don’t wanna wear those shorts again tomorrow, hun.

6. Learn the f*cking metric system.

We, Americans, are the only idiots who are still using the Imperial System. Someone asks how tall you are, you say 5’7”, and they look at you with a blank stare. Learning litres and kilometres will help you infinite amounts.

Likewise, look up and memorize the exchange rate before crossing the border into a new country. Locals know that you have no idea how to use their monopoly money and they will take advantage of that. Someone offers you an exchange on cash and you already know that it’s a bad deal? You’re ahead.

7. Don’t drink Bud Light, smoke Marlboros, or eat burgers ‘n’ fries.

The second you get somewhere, check out the local brew. If you smoke cigarettes, ask what the locals smoke and get those. And for the love of God, eat the local food.

It pains me to see Americans in a beautiful foreign country doing everything that they do at home. What’s the point? Plus, local dishes and local products will probably about half the price of the crap you’re used to.

8. Only bring things that you’re not attached to.

You’ll lose countless articles of clothing, you’ll swap with people, and you’ll ruin lots of things. Don’t bring your favorite sweatshirt that your high school boyfriend gave you 10 years ago (yes, the one you still have), because you will be full devo if you lose it.

Besides, backpacking will definitely teach you to be detached from material things: Oh, how Buddhist of you.

9. Do as the locals do.

If a local invites you to some local thing: GO. It’s not every day that a local invites you to an Argentine asado, a Jewish Shabbat dinner, or an Italian discoteque.

If you’re lucky enough to have made enough of an impression on a local to be invited to something on the other side, take full advantage. Skip going to the bar with all the American backpackers. Your night out with a local will be so much cooler.

10. The number one rule:

In a foreign country, if someone tries to take your things, you give it to them. No fight. No questions. No material item is worth getting hurt.

On the other hand, if someone tries to take your body: You. Fight. For. Your. F*cking. Life.

Enough said.

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