In travel, everything depends on your individual needs and desires. What travel credit card should you sign up for? Depends on your goals. Should you buy a rail pass? Depends on how you travel. Backpack or carry-on? Maybe.
There is no “right” answer in travel.
Beginner travelers always seem to be looking for the right answer. Should they do X or Y? What’s the solution to their problem?
My answer is always “it depends,” because there are no universal right answers in travel.
Websites like this can provide you with all the practical information in the world so you can weigh the pros and cons, but the final decision rests with you.
The right way to travel is the way that works for you.
Recently, I was in San Francisco, hosting a reader meet-up, when I was asked a question about European rail passes. I could see the frustration in the guy’s face when I replied, “it depends.” He wanted a simple answer. I wanted to give him one — but there was none to give.
I told him the same thing: don’t go looking for the perfect answer or get frustrated when you can’t find it. Travel just doesn’t work that way.
We all want the easy, cookie-cutter answer, especially when we are new to travel and don’t have a frame of reference. It makes planning easier when you have answers to go by and guidelines to follow.
No two people see the same city, waterfall, experience, or country the same way. We all have our own preferences. We all want to do different things and travel a certain way. We have different ideas on what “budget” means, or when is too early or late to book a plane, hostel, or train.
What I love, you might not (and vice versa). To me, my job is to relay my experience as fairly and balanced as I can. It’s to explain the how of travel so you can decide what will make your trip cheaper and longer.
I’ve led you to the river and taught you about the fish; now you must decide which one to catch.
I know travel can be frustrating and overwhelming. I know planning it can be mind numbing. I know all the information on the Internet can overload your mind. We want simple answers so we can move on and relax.
But there are no simple answers or right way to travel, and if you look for them, you’ll drive yourself mad.
Take a deep breath.
Use the information you find to evaluate the pros and cons of what you want.
Choose the option you’re most comfortable with.
If you make a mistake or find out something didn’t work, don’t beat yourself up over it. I make mistakes all the time. You learn from them for your next trip.
Everyone travels differently. What works for another person won’t necessarily work for you. Smart travelers use all the information they have at the time to make the best decision they can.
Use the information you find here, over the web, or in guidebooks to make the best decision for you.
But don’t look for the perfect answer.
Your journey is your own — there’s no right or wrong way to do it.
When you realize that, planning your adventure becomes a lot easier and a lot more fun.