12 (mostly existential) Travel Tips I Learned Wandering in Morocco and Barcelona

This past February, I took a trip to Morocco and Barcelona–my first trip out of the country staying in hostels, semi-backpacking with my Chrome messenger backpack and a small blue suitcase.

Here are a few things I learned along the way.

  1. People you pay to serve you will serve you because it’s their job. Don’t be surprised and don’t be ashamed to ask for the things you want (or reject the things you don’t want or didn’t ask for!).
  2. People you don’t pay to interact with you in some way are an unknown variable until you say yes to the improv. skit and go from there. It’s safer to gather more information than to make baseless assumptions (I say this because you’re not very good at reading people off the bat, Kate.)
  3. Pay attention to the details. A market is made of people who are all just trying to make a living (honestly or dishonestly). People are motivated by more than what they say.
  4. Assess the cost every time you decide to do something you don’t want to do. What would your money be otherwise spent on? Your stomach space? Your time?
  5. When you’re half a world away, missing someone isn’t a duty, it’s organic. Wanting to be with someone is organic. You never NEEDED to do anything. Let it happen as it happens.
  6. Aways opt in for the free check-in luggage.
  7. You really only wear the same 7 pieces of clothing.
  8. You really only need three bags: necessities, valuables, and dirty laundry.
  9. Spend nothing on souvenirs unless they are small, sentimental, and useful (ALL THREE!)
  10. In the end, everything will be okay. You are in the midst of a full life. Everything that comes now is extra.
  11. Don’t pretend to know what you don’t know. This is different from walking through a marketplace confidently even though you’re probably only 75% sure where you’re walking to. Let people teach you. Let the moments carry you from time to time.
  12. Trust your instincts. If they are wrong, your mistakes will sharpen them. If they are right, take ownership. Let it build your confidence, because that is your strongest and most beautiful asset.
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