Last Updated: 3/7/2023 | March 7th, 2023
“You’re not that cutting-edge with your advice. It’s pretty run-of-the-mill. You also are very obviously biased toward thirtyish, white, upper-middle-class Americans who want to pretend to be bohemians.”
This quote is from our last reader survey. And I’ll be honest: it cut deep. I stared at it for a while. Cried a bit (okay, maybe not but the comment still hurt a lot). I looked for an email address to follow up with the person who wrote it, but they opted to be anonymous.
It hurt because I don’t view the site that way at all, especially since I know most of my readers don’t fit into that demographic.
Yet, after over fourteen years of traveling the world, I have to admit that I agree a little with this critique about my travel tips. Not the bohemian part (perish the thought!). Not about class or race either. (Why would these tips only work for white people?)
I agree that, if you’re a seasoned traveler, this isn’t mind-blowing stuff.
This website probably isn’t that cutting-edge and revolutionary if, like me, you have to keep getting your passport stuffed with new pages every few months because you travel so much. The experienced traveler will know the majority of the general tips and tricks given on this site.
I’m sharing this because it’s actually something I’ve been thinking about for a while. So to see it in the survey was kind of mind-blowing.
I’ve covered travel in-depth for so long, I’m running out of things to write about. After a while, you begin to rehash the same old stuff.
How many times can you write about packing light or stress the fundamentals of budgeting, eating local, and staying in hostels?
If you’re a new traveler, though, this site has a TON of tips and advice that will blow your mind and change how you fundamentally think about travel. They’re going to open up a world you never thought possible and have you running out the door before you know it.
But for old hands (like me), while we may pick up a few new tips here and there, rarely will anything make us go “HOLY F***! THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING!!”
Unlike other industries, where giant shifts in technology or thinking fundamentally change the industry, travel is basically… well, travel. There’s no major discovery that makes us rethink travel the way that changes in medicine, history, technology, or science makes us rethink life, the universe, or nature.
There are just micro-shifts — small changes in the how of travel.
The why of travel never changes.
For example, cruise ships may be bigger, have more features, serve better food, and recycle more, but cruising is still essentially the same as it was fifty years ago: for one all-inclusive price, you get on a boat, sail around, make a few stops, get back on the boat, and head home.
The ships may have changed, but their general purpose hasn’t.
Apps, services, and infrastructure may have changed how we get around, but the reason why we sling on a backpack hasn’t.
The biggest shift in travel over the last few years has been the rise of the sharing economy.
Websites like Airbnb, EatWith, and Couchsurfing allow us to break out of mass-market, commercial travel by helping us connect directly with locals — all while saving us money in the process.
But they don’t change the why or fundamentals of budget travel.
Google Maps may make getting around easier, but it doesn’t change why you are looking to go somewhere.
Travel is much the same today as it was when I first started in 2006 or when my father did so in the 1970s.
If you read Walden, The Innocents Abroad, On the Road, Travels with Charley, or any of a dozen other travel books set decades or more ago, you’ll see the same wanderlust and desire to connect and understand the world as we have now.
It’s why we still read these old travel books — their themes are timeless. These old stories express humanity’s innate desire to explore and search for meaning. That desire to learn, explore, and see the world is timeless.
Improved tools to make that happen don’t fundamentally change its meaning.
Horses and caravans turn into trains, planes, and automobiles. Trains get more efficient, planes become safer, and cars can go farther. Wooden ships that became giant steamers are now massive cruise ships and fiberglass yachts. Star charts became maps, which turn into GPS-based Google Maps.
We don’t need the Pony Express; we have Instant Messenger. We can book a room with an app on our phone.
(The argument about being too connected is one for another day.)
The information I (and thousands of others) have shared about travel was always there — but hidden away among travelers and locals, or buried in guidebooks and forums. It wasn’t easily found, but it was there.
When I started my journeys in 2006, there wasn’t that much easily accessible information on travel. I read countless guidebooks and spent hours looking at forums searching for tips that I would only discover through experience.
But the growth of blogs made all that “hidden” information much more accessible. They pulled out of the shadows all the stuff most people (like myself) don’t inherently know without actually traveling.
That’s why travel tips aren’t cutting-edge to people who have done it before. We’re never fundamentally changing the why of travel. We’re just tinkering around the edges.
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing new to learn. I read countless blogs to stay abreast of the latest industry trends; unearth some new tips, apps, and services; and discover interesting places I never would have known about.
Travel does change all the time: new attractions, hostels, and restaurants open; hip places become uncool and others become popular; and new blogs, services, and companies are created to make our lives easier. There is always something new to learn about the latest travel trends and tricks. There are always new stories about people, places, and lesser-known activities you might not have known otherwise.
That’s what keeps travel so interesting — not learning some revolutionary how but finding a story that reminds of us the why.
A story takes us to a new place, teaches us something new, reminds us to dream big, and inspires us to finally take that trip we’ve always dreamed about.
And that’s more powerful than any new travel tip.
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- SafetyWing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Want to Travel for Free?
Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation — all without any extra spending. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.