Travel Questions - Baalbek

Facebook Randomness – Answers to All Your Travel Questions

Derek Travel Questions Answered, Travel Tips & Advice 47 Comments

Travel Questions - Baalbek
An hour ago, I was about to start writing a post. Everything was in place – my laptop, my fruit salad, my glass of beer – until I quickly realized that one thing was missing. A topic. I had no idea what I was going to write about.

My next move was to check my Twitter account and check my Facebook page, and it was there on my Facebook page that I had a thought. I would invite my FB followers to ask me any travel questions they had and I would select one of those questions and respond with a full post.

But then, along came Michelle, a FB follower who suggested that my post consist of brief answers to ALL of the questions that were asked. I liked the idea, a lot. And so, that’s what I’ve done. All of the questions are listed below.

Before I get to those questions/topics though, let me just give a big thank you to Michelle for the idea and another thank you to everyone who asked questions and helped me create this post as a result!

Facebook Randomness

How about stories of being robbed, ripped off or scammed while on the road? Apart from having my wallet pick-pocketed while walking through a market in Delhi one night, I haven’t really fallen victim to many scams, at least none that have cost me a ton of money or really put me in a tough situation. I can be quite stubborn, so if something doesn’t feel right, I won’t give in. With that said, I did get kidnapped in Bangladesh a while back, but they didn’t really get much out of me in the end.

I’d love to hear about how to work or make money in a foreign country over the age of 34. For this, I would direct you over to my post “42 Ways You Can Make Money and Travel The World” as the majority of ideas I mention there are perfectly suitable for travelers of all ages.

Have you been ever in a situation that you needed to stop traveling and return home, maybe forced to because you were tired? And I would like to know if that is something that crosses your mind from time to time. There have definitely been times when I’ve become so tired that my travels started becoming much less enjoyable. What I normally do when this happens is quite simple. I stop. I find a place – a city, a town, a village – that I enjoy spending time in, I throw down my backpack and I rent an apartment or a room for a month, or even two or three months. Then, once I feel like moving around again, I pack up and continue traveling. If you’re feeling tired and you don’t stop, whether it be somewhere overseas or by returning home for a short while, you can easily get burned out and once that happens, traveling won’t be nearly as rewarding any more.

Travel Questions - Tired


Please share your most interesting customs or border experience… Apart from this story, my second most interesting border crossing was probably when I crossed from Bangladesh to India, using a remote border crossing in the town of Tamabil. According to the immigration log book, I was one of only a handful of foreigners that had used this particular crossing that year and when it came time for me to head to India, the Bangladeshi border guard had to give a signal to the Indian side. The reason for the signal, it turns out, was that the two sides were engaged in a long-running land dispute that had culminated into a gun battle. So, the signal was given, the gun battle stopped (the bullets were not being aimed aimed at the actual border, but at positions in the surrounding hills) and I was allowed to cross the 300 meter stretch of ‘no man’s land’ as guards on both sides kept an eye on me.

Can you write about Costa Rica? I could, but it wouldn’t be very interesting. While I’ve traveled to Costa Rica a few times, my last visit was in 2008, and as a result, I don’t have much in terms of relevant information for travelers heading there these days. Sorry!

What are you gonna do when you get old Earl? Keep wandering with a walker? Or do you foresee yourself putting down ‘roots’ somewhere eventually? I state it often on the site…if I were to wake up tomorrow feeling that it’s time to stop traveling, that’s exactly what I would do. Until then, though, I plan to continue doing what I love most. Will I put down some roots eventually? Perhaps. It’s certainly a possibility. But it’s hard for me to say what I think will happen. I prefer to just see where the path will lead. And if I still love traveling when it comes time for me to use a walker, I’ll find a way to make it happen!

Who is the most interesting person you’ve met during your travels? I’ve thought about this question for the past hour and it’s probably the most difficult question in this post. It’s just not possible to choose one single person as I’ve met such an endless stream of fascinating people, including both locals and other travelers from all over the planet. Maybe it’s the guy who was riding a John Deere lawnmower from the UK to India or the Japanese Buddhist nun who constantly walks around the world for peace or the…oh man…it’s not easy to pick even a few!

How many different nationalities of women have you chopped? Somewhere between 1 and 206 🙂 [that’s the number of sovereign states in the world]

How about your romantic endeavors along your journey? Well, usually, I prefer to keep this topic off the blog since, I’ll admit, it’s nice to have some part of my life that I keep private. But I will say that, over the years, I have had a few long-term relationships and as one might expect, I’m meeting like-minded, interesting people all the time. So, romance and relationships are bound to happen along the way!

Travel Questions - Romance

I’d like to hear if you have a favorite destination, and why? At this point, I would say that Mexico (most underrated country on the planet with all that it has to offer travelers) and India (most culturally fascinating) are my two favorite destinations, with Socotra Island (unique, isolated and 100% otherworldly) and Romania (so much to see, do and experience, but so few travelers) right behind.

I’m a young traveller and I want to start travelling free style either by myself or with a friend. My parents aren’t very happy about this and I was wondering if you had any advice on what to do? Many parents aren’t too thrilled by the idea of their children traveling! The best thing you can do is to talk to them openly and honestly but instead of just saying “I want to travel”, make sure you have a more concrete idea of what you want to achieve. Tell your parents why you want to travel, what you hope to gain, how you will fund your travels, the benefits your experiences will give you and where you plan to go. The more information you can provide, the more confident you will sound and the more your parents will realize that you are not just planning on being a ‘bum’ but that you actually have thought things through and you know exactly what you’re doing. You can also show them examples of others who have traveled and who have turned their travels into an actual lifestyle. Often times, your parents will come around but sometimes, they still might not be too happy with your idea. All you can do is stay confident in your ability to achieve your travel goals and start your adventure…once your parents see that you are out there living the life you truly want, that might also help them change their minds and start supporting your decision in the end.

What about discussing the bittersweet reality of constantly meeting so many amazing people only to arrive alone in your next destination? We love making new friends but at times it would be nice to round them all up in the same city! It’s not easy but I tend to always keep this idea in mind: I’ve met so many amazing people but I would never have met these people had I not been traveling all over the world. And while it can be downright painful to move on to a new place and leave such new friends behind, I always know that if I don’t pack up my bags and move on to a new destination, I will miss out on meeting even more amazing people out there. Also, if a true friendship has been formed, I’ve discovered that the bond remains even while apart and the chances of seeing those friends again is actually much higher than I ever would have imagined. These thoughts definitely help me deal with the constant ‘hellos’ and ‘goodbyes’ of this lifestyle.

What is your favorite season and why? In what country or region do you enjoy spending that season, and why? Summer! By far the summer. I love warm…no wait, I love very hot weather. I just feel healthier and more relaxed when it’s hot outside and the sun is shining each day, and as a result, I tend to enjoy everything I do to a much greater extent. And I don’t mind where I spend the summer, any summer in any destination will do for me, as long as it’s 80F (27C) or warmer, I’m one happy individual. Although, being near a white sand beach certainly is a bonus.

Travel Questions - White Sand Beach

How about the country you most identify with now that you have been living outside the US for so long? When it comes down to it, I still identify with my home country the most. While I’ve traveled a great deal and have spent significant amounts of time in certain places, and I’m extremely comfortable in many other countries, none of those other countries ever truly feel like home. My guess is that our childhood/teenage years are just too important and by the time we’re 21 or 22, we have such a connection to our home country that no matter how much traveling we do (unless we move to and stay in a new country for many, many years), it will be hard to feel as comfortable anywhere else.

How about time spent back in the homeland? Every time I come back after months away I have something like culture-shock in my homeland which I did not have during my travels. I understand that reverse culture-shock for sure, although, for me, I haven’t experienced it in many years. These days, I return to the US for around 2-3 weeks at a time and I do that generally twice per year. But the thing to remember is that travel has a major impact on us, from everything you experience, every person you meet and everything you learn out there. So it’s natural that when you suddenly find yourself in your home country, with all of this new information, all of these new ideas and beliefs and friendships and on and on, it will be quite difficult to re-adjust to a place that now seems so foreign. The good news, at least in my experience, is that it does get easier as time goes on and there are ways to ensure a smoother transition. Don’t forget about your travels! Stay in touch with those you met, look at your photos, think about all that you experienced and also, if you plan to travel again, stay focused on achieving that goal. Holding on, at least to some extent, to your travel experiences will ensure that your adjustment at home is not as abrupt. It will help keep your travels fresh in your mind, giving you time to think about ways to incorporate everything you learned on your adventures into your life back at home.

‘Taking the plunge.’ All I can say about this is that if you ask almost anyone who has taken the plunge, whether they took off for 1 month, 3 months, 1 year or indefinitely, and regardless of the experiences they ended up having, you’ll have a very difficult time finding someone who has regretted that decision to just go. That alone would provide me with all the confidence I’d need to take the plunge myself!

How about missing the joys of material items and material living? This was quite easy for me since I started traveling before I had my own place back in the US, so I never accumulated much. And as soon as I started traveling and enjoying the benefits of my experiences, it was quite clear to me that those experiences were worth far more than any material item I might have wanted at the time. And my feeling about that has never changed.

How do you cook while travelling? Do you take cooking equipment with you or do you buy new stuff when you stay in a new place? Do you find that ingredients vary much from place to place and does that mean you have to learn to cook new things? I’ve never traveled with any cooking equipment over the years as I actually don’t cook too much unless I’m staying in one place for a longer period of time. And whenever I find myself renting an apartment or room for long-term, I think I’ve always rented a place that was furnished (and had all the cooking equipment already) or that had a communal kitchen with everything I could need. As for ingredients, yes, they do vary from country to country and I do tend to cook different things depending on where I’m living, but actually, I’m not sure if that has to do with the ingredients available or the fact that I tend to be in a mood to cook Mexican food when I’m in Mexico and so on! (On a side note, keep in mind that in many countries, eating out is so inexpensive that it’s hard to find the motivation to cook. If I can eat out for the same amount of money or less than cooking at home, I’ll almost always eat out.)

Travel Questions - Eating

How to travel as a couple on a budget? Well, I’m no expert on this at all so I’m going to lead you to some couples who have managed to travel on a budget themselves for quite a while: NeverendingVoyage.com and UncorneredMarket.com.

What is the most dangerous thing, person or situation you have ever run into during your travels? Tough call on this one, but I think it has to be the time I spent several hours hanging out with some members of the Taliban in northwestern Pakistan. It wasn’t something I planned at all, it all happened quite unexpectedly and while it did go well in the end, it definitely could have turned into a much different situation I imagine.

Some people think a portable lifestyle and being a digital nomad = homeless. On the contrary. I believe you wrote about this before, but I’d love to read your expanded thoughts on this topic? Yes, I did write a bit on this topic in the post, Everybody Told Me I Was A Useless Bum. Of course, those who are traveling long-term know that such travelers are not ‘bums’ at all but it’s still hard to convince some non-travelers that this is actually the case! I’ll write some more about the topic soon.

How do you find all of the coolest things to visit when you are in an area? The thing is, if you’re in search of unique, cool experiences, destinations, hidden gems, etc. when you travel, the only possible way to find them is to talk to as many people as you can, including both locals and fellow travelers. There’s really no other way. The more people you talk to you, the higher the chances that they will have discovered something very cool and will share it with you. Talk to everyone you come across and you’ll be surprised by what you learn, experiences and places that you never would have been able to find out about on your own.

There you have it. I hope you enjoyed this question and answer session. I had a very good time writing the answers (which had nothing to do with the beer – okay, beers – that I drank over the past couple of hours I’m sure) and I look forward to doing something similar again. For now, though, it’s time for me to sleep…goodnight!

If you have any follow up questions or anything else you’d like to know about, just leave a comment and I’ll answer them in an upcoming post!


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Comments 47

  1. Anudeep

    Hi Earl, this is the first time im writing on your website. Im 18 year old male, im also going to be a Explorer like you. Im planning to start a website of my own like you do, so could you give me some advice and steps for building up a website??? My friends are not much aware of web making and those kind of stuffs, so it would be much helpful if you mention about all the basics steps for building website like where start what do and things like that..

  2. George

    I really love the way you live your life, and i’d like to live a similar nomadic lifestyle.
    Have you planned what you’ll do when you start getting too old for travel?, will you have enough money?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey George – I haven’t planned what I’ll do at that point but I’ve been working on online projects over the years that I will be able to continue working on regardless of whether or not I am traveling. And yes, I’ve always saved money over the years.

  3. Prince Bhatia

    It was a great learning experience from your answers. I would like to know do you really travel alone or with some companion. What you do when you need emotional support, do you have a girlfriend or wife?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Prince – Sometimes I travel alone and sometimes with other people, usually a friend. But as for emotional support, I have friends all over the world, great friends in fact and that has worked perfectly for me so far.

  4. gary

    Hey you said the magic word, basketball. I took one year off after I quit my job and drove around the United States playing pickup basketball in all sorts of different cities. I’ve got quite a few interesting stories… all of them good !!

  5. Jeff

    It is interesting that Mexico and India are your two favorite countries. I certainly can’t argue with that. I spent two months in India and loved it and once traveled across Mexico by bus, which was incredible. I got to see lots of out of the way towns.

    And someday soon I hope to get to Yemen. I wish they’d stop killing each other though just so my mom won’t worry. Maybe I’ll just tell her I’m headed to Dubai instead.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jeff – I’ve tried the ‘tell my mother I’m somewhere else’ trick and while it worked, I’m not sure the post-trip argument was worth it!

  6. Banker in the Sun

    Earl, I’ve come to expect nothing but greatness from you, but I was pleasantly surprised by your readers’ awesome questions! I loved your answer about travel fatigue. I don’t think hunkering down for a month or two or eight means you’re no longer traveling. You’re simply going at a slower pace. You can’t keep hitting cities for 4 days at a time and not burn out. I also think spending months at a time (or years) in a place is the only way to really dig in and understand a culture, its people, and yourself within a new cultural context. Thanks Earl and thanks to Earl’s fans!

  7. Racheal

    Hey Earl,
    have you got any female traveller blog recommendations? Particularly ones travelling alone, I’d like to know their experience, before planning my travels.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Racheal – Check out theblondegypsy.com, justonewayticket.com, legalnomads.com, alittleadrift.com, nomadicchick.com, lashworldtour.com…that’s a good start!

  8. Christine

    Hi Earl,
    I have been following your post for sometime now and I enjoy each and every story you have written. I loved to travel myself. Here is my question?

    Was there ever been a trip where you contracted an illness and you had to been taken to a doctor or to a hospital? How do manage your travels if you get sick along the way?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Christine – In 14 years of travel, I’ve only had to visit a doctor twice, once when I got sick in the mountains of India with just a typical stomach issue and once when I busted my toe while in Thailand. In both cases, I just went to the local doctor, got some medicine or in the case of the toe, had it cleaned up, and I was fine a few days later. And those are the only times I’ve needed any kind of medical attention.

  9. Jacqueline

    Earl, I was wondering, do you have a hobby outside of travel and work? By that, I mean something along the lines of music, art, reading, film, sports (I think you mentioned something about sports management once), photography, etc. If so, has travel changed your perspective on it?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jacqueline – I do a lot of reading and I watch a lot of movies as well and I also try to play basketball wherever I go. Traveling hasn’t really changed my perspective on those kind of things except for giving me more access to books and films that I might never have known about had I not been visiting various regions of the world and meeting all kinds of people.

  10. Cle

    Hey Earl,

    love the post as usual, i waa thinking about replying to my readers emails as well but i’d better referr them to yours (lazy bum) 🙂

    Back to the topic… i left my family 17 years ago and last year i left my conventional life to travel the world as long as my finances allows me to.

    My only real struggle so far is the “goodbye” part. I tought it would have gotten easier with time but i was wrong.

    Also, im seriously considering if i will ever able to mantain a “normal” relationship with this lifestyle. I think it’s possible, but not easy at all. I stay positive and im honestly not searching for it at the moment.

    Sometimes being free is the best thing!
    Safe Travels!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Cle – The only thing I can say about a ‘normal’ relationship is that, while it may be difficult to achieve with this lifestyle, you never know what will happen. You might meet the right person and as a result, your life plans might suddenly change…you might want to be with this person more than continue traveling and would rather ‘settle’ somewhere to make that happen. And by traveling now, you are putting yourself in a position to meet more and more people all the time, so you just never know who the next person you meet will turn out to be!

  11. Linda Bailey Zimmerman

    Earl,
    Wow…terrific writing…wonderful adventures..! A series of books HAVE to be in your future!!
    Love to travel…these days I’m limited to a month a year. My crazy, wild husband struck down by a devastating series is strokes has me attending yo his needs 24/7.
    Travel…travel…travel…while you can!!
    Thanks a million for sharing your adventures… they help my wanderlust!!
    Cheers to you!!

  12. sarah

    I really enjoyed this post and I especially related to the question about which country you identify most with. I was born and raised in the UK until I moved with my parents to Canada at the age of 11. As I am now in my 40’s you would think that Canada is the country I would most relate to but strangely I still feel more British than Canadian and I always feel at home whenever I travel to Europe. Not sure if it’s because we tend to form such an identity in our childhood years or if it’s a connection deeper than that but I have yet to travel anywhere else where I feel so a part of.

  13. Catherine

    Lots of great questions and equally good answers! So true what you say about ‘taking the plunge’ – I’ve never heard of anyone who’s regretted going travelling!

  14. Dan Barber

    Hi Earl!
    Great post! After traveling with you on one of your trips to India which I thoroughly enjoyed I have come to realize you write as you are. Keep up the good work…As you know I’m trying to make the “move”. I’ll be in Morocco till the end of the month. The invite is still open.
    Best,
    Dan

  15. Karisa

    Loved reading this little Q&A. I just went back and read your Taliban story…OMG! I have no idea how I would have handled that situation. Well, I guess as a lady human I probably wouldn’t have gotten myself in to that situation. Maybe I would have had tea with the Taliban grandmas…??

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Karisa – Not sure how that would have turned out but if you could manage to pull off such a tea party, I would love to read about it!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jessica – Even in the middle of summer there are very few foreign tourists here…not many places left in Europe that can say that!

  16. naddya

    Hey Earl, I was wondering how you manage the jet legs? Is there a trick you do to make your body adjust faster?
    Great blog, btw 🙂 Always pleasure to read you.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Naddya – I think the key is to travel for a very long time…eventually, from all the changing time zones, I think my body just gave up on jet lag and seems to adjust to wherever I am quite quickly 🙂

  17. PatriciaGW

    This was so helpful, thanks Earl! I had also been curious how you were able to cook on then road when you wanted to.

    My question is, what resource do you use to research a country’s culture before you arrive (taboos, polite things you’re expected to do, insights into daily life)? This would come with first-hand experience, but is there a source you use to look it up first? Most informational websites explain history and demographics, but not daily life.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Patricia – There really isn’t any source that I use for this. Instead, once I arrive in a new destination, I try to find out at that point. This usually involves talking to locals and other travelers. Of course, a quick google search for ‘how to behave in Thailand’ for example, you can find a few good, general lists of what you should or shouldn’t do.

  18. NZ Muse

    MarriedWithLuggage- long term travelling couple who’ve been blogging for yonks.

    I’m sweating just thinking about 27 degrees. My happy place is between about 17 and 22. Very small range, I know. Spoiled Aucklander!

  19. Gigi

    I’m with you on most of these, but I will say that I always feel way more at home in Europe than the US, so we must not all be culturally settled by 21. 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Gigi – Could be, but I see you’ve spent most of your travels in Europe. My guess is that the more you see of other continents and the longer you spend time in other places, that comfort in Europe will dilute a bit. About ten years ago, I would have said that I was more comfortable in SE Asia than anywhere else on the planet but I realize now that was due to the fact that I had spent most of my early travels in SE Asia!

  20. Raphael Alexander Zoren

    As a Mexican I agree with you about how underrated our country is! Mexico receives about 20 million tourists each year and I’m sure that 90% of them don’t venture outside of their beach resorts.

    Fun-fact: Of all the countries in the world, Mexico ranks at number six in terms of UNESCO world heritage sites! 😀

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Raphael – You are right, most tourists to your country don’t venture beyond the resort gates unfortunately. But for those who do, they typically love the experiences they end up having!

  21. Leo

    Great post, I would’ve asked the first question (robbed and scammed) I’ve been watching the TV show ‘Scam City’ recently and there are some real nasty tourist scams out there. Looking forward to your next post.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Leo – There are definitely scams present around the world but my thought is that a little research and some common sense will help most travelers avoid most scams.

  22. Ash

    I do check your Facebook page quite often but I missed this in time to ask a question so here goes.

    Is there anyone you’ve met on your travels once, never saw them ever again and wish your paths could cross again.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Ash – Yes, there are definitely people I would have loved to see again. But at the same time, I don’t give up on the idea that it still might happen!

  23. Michele

    Another great blog for the person who asked about traveling as a couple – http://earthisouraddress.com/ Cheryl and Tom are pretty awesome.

    And while I’m not a traveler YET (soon.. very soon – 80 days!!!) I’d like to expand on the last question. Social media and Google! My husband and I are leaving in May to spend time in France, Romania, and Holland. When I was booking places to stay (on airbnb.com), I talked with the hostesses, and one of them offered to pick us up at the airport (1.5 hours away) and take us back when we leave. She also offered to plan day trips with us to show us around her favorite places. Her husband likes to fish, so she said he may be able to take us on a day fishing trip.

    So yes, while you’re traveling, while you’re booking, while you’re sitting at home in your robe and slippers… talk to people online, talk to them on skype if possible, make connections well ahead of time if possible so you aren’t totally alone in a new land 🙂

    Michele

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Michele – I absolutely agree with that…you can connect with plenty of people before your trip starts these days. Looking forward to hearing about your upcoming journey!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Nathan – That’s a decent question, I’ll admit. I just opened a beer and then had an urge for some fruit salad, so both were sitting on my desk.

  24. Loz in Transit

    Great roundup. As always there are so many more questions to ask, so I won’t bother you with that.
    Instead I’ll just wish for everyone to find their own travel answers through their own adventures 🙂

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