I've done a wee bit of traveling by now. My travels are always on a shoestring and often with a female friend, but sometimes I take shorter trips solo.
The one piece of wisdom I have managed to thus far accrue is: Eventually Something Will Go Wrong. It's an inescapable fact. The only thing we can decide is how to react when it happens.
And so I have settled upon five rules for myself (and anyone who finds wisdom in them).
Rule #1) Everything is an adventure.
Really. Sort of like when you were five years old and the bathtub was an ocean and your duckie was the Loch Ness Monster.
Have to walk a few miles? You're Frodo Baggins going up Mount Doom. Stranded? You're Kara Thrace on Kobol, or the Doctor without his TARDIS. Bad food? You're Harry Potter trying to eat Hagrid's rock cakes. Sleeping rough? Maybe you're Jason Bourne, maybe you're Xena. Run out of money? You're the Princess living as a pauper. Or Eugenides as the Queen's Thief, if you are a person of particularly shaky moral standing.
The Domain of Moo does not condone illegal action and claims no responsibility for your larceny. Sorry about your life.
Rule #2) Be in a good mood.
Enthusiasm is key. Enthusiasm for anything. Enthusiasm for airplanes, enthusiasm for different languages, enthusiasm for bugs in your food. You need a glass-half-full perspective, and an eagerness to have experiences. Laugh in incredulity at good things and bad things.
Be willing to fly by the seat of your pants, and excited to discover if you can weather the things life throws at you. It's an enthralling experiment. And remember, if you don't laugh, you will definitely cry.
Rule #3) Be prepared for it all to go sideways.
Make plans. Do. Research, write down, double-check, pack extra underpants.
But sometimes, you get lost. Sometimes, bus schedules are wrong. Sometimes, your ATM card stops working.
If you are prepared for this, then when it's late at night in the freezing cold and no one speaks English and you just missed the last train - the train that lead to your pre-paid hotel at the next stop on your very tight schedule - if you are prepared for this, then maybe you won't wail and cry and poo yourself in front of startled Japanese commuters.
Rule #4) If you're not traveling solo, make sure you have an awesome friend.
You can sleep on each other during long trips, for one thing. You can keep each others' spirits up, and talk and sing and dance and take stupid photos.
However, if you are in fact traveling solo, you can also do these things with yourself and/or your travel bag. If people stare, don't worry. (If the travel bag starts talking back, possibly worry.)
Rule #5) Take comfort in small things.
Like chocolate, for example. Cute animals. Blue skies. Unexpected flowers in the rain.
The Domain of Moo does not condone underage drinking and claims no responsibility for your angry parents. Don't be a twat.