Rules to Travel By

Rule 1:  Always Say Yes

“Learn to say no” is pretty popular lately; it is even the subject of books. But we suggest that whether you’re out traveling for a week or a lifetime, the correct answer to almost any question is “yes.” Many of our favorite memories from the last year have resulted from saying yes to invitations.

  • “Would you like to drive the boat?” (But I’m not licensed!)
  • “There’s a 20 minute wait for a table, but if you want to eat with this couple you can sit now at a table for 4.” (But it could be awkward)
  • “Please come stay with us in Pretoria!” (But it’s 4 hours out of the way)
  • “We want to give you a tour of Mar del Plata!” (But we’re gonna have to speak a lot of Spanish)
  • “Come to my restaurant and check it out!” (But we don’t even know you!)

The “Yes” rule doesn’t apply to things that are obviously stupid. And it doesn’t mean you have to travel across the world to take someone up on their offer. But a 4 hour drive from Kruger Park to Pretoria in order to stay with new friends who let us watch rugby at their table? That definitely falls into the “Say Yes” category.


By the way, the situations above ended like this:

  • I guided a 25hp outboard motorboat through the Grand Canal of Venice at midnight, until the motor cut and and we were dead in the water with no lights for 5 minutes.
  • After dinner with the lovely Canadians that we were paired up with, we went to a pub and stayed up way past midnight hanging out with them.
  • For two nights, we stayed in a gated community in Pretoria, complete with game preserve (Zebras!), hosted by the Zietsmans, some of the most generous people you can imagine.
  • Our new friends Fernando and Lucia let us stay in their extra bedroom and we even got to attend Lucia’s grandmother’s birthday party/asado.
  • Ann runs the best Burger place in Oslo; it is an Airstream trailer built into a basement. Burgers aren’t cheap, because they’re in Norway and they’re super excellent… but that day she treated us and even gave me a root beer.

Rule 2:  Take It Slowsouthafrica

The world is really huge and you won’t see everything. There, I said it. It took us a long time to figure out that we wouldn’t be doing an “around the world” trip, because the world is actually quite large. For example, 10 days in Spain is kind of a joke. So our suggestion is take your time, visit the places you want to see, and slow down. Enjoy the place where you’re at, thoroughly, and be able to look back and say “I really know that place.”

One nice perk of slowing down is that it means you’ll have less travel days, and travel days are expensive!

Rule 3:  Collect Contact Info

If you want to stay in touch with someone, make sure you get their info, rather than just giving yours out.

Katy was really excited before our trip began, and one of her outlets for that energy was to make business cards. For $5 she got some simple cards printed up with the Space Needle, our blog, email, and phone numbers. For the first six months of our trip, we gave a lot of these away to new friends. “Hey, shoot me an email, let’s go have dinner next week!” “Oh man we’ll be in the same city in two weeks we should have a beer and catch up!”


Have you seen these lovely Welsh folks? Because we’d love to get back in touch with them… but I simply gave them a business card and thought that was sufficient. Silly me!

The problem was that we (almost) never heard a thing from any of them. [single tear]

I’ve learned my lesson. Now, when we find people we click with, I make sure I get their info in my possession. “Don’t call me, I’ll call you” is my new motto. You’re welcome to reject/ignore my email, but at least the ball’s in my court for the first play.


Actual conversation that ended up with NEW FRIENDS!

And a corollary tip: take a picture with your new friends! It’s pretty depressing to have friends around the world and no real evidence you were in the same place together.

Author: Matt

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  • Johanna Vicklund

    Love this post! So true about learning to say yes!

  • Thanks Jo!!!

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