In 2015, I traveled over 37,000 miles to 35 countries, had the best meals of my life and met thousands of new friends. It wasn’t long into my travels when I realized what the Law of the Traveler is.
For years, I used to read the bucket lists of other travelers, hearing about the most adventurous and beautiful places around the world. Johnny Ward at OneStep4Ward has an amazing one, although I don’t think he’s updated it in some time. I keep trying to put one together for my blog, but I could never finish. I always had more things to add.
When I first started planning my overseas trip many years ago, I was trying to squeeze as many countries as I could into a three-week journey. I finally made an itinerary which included 18 cities in 9 countries around Europe. Looking back at that plan, I can see how absurdly crazy it would have been.
Next I tried to plan for a one-year trek. I had several different ideas, some of which entailed going to as many places as I could in a single continent, and in others I bounced all around the world. One thing became abundantly clear. I wanted to visit every country in the world, and there was simply too much to do in one trip. It was with this conclusion that I decided to spend the rest of my life traveling.
I booked my flight to London and began in January, 2015. By the end of the year, I had visited 35 countries and had countless adventures. But everything I did, I always felt like I wasn’t doing enough. There were always more places I wanted to visit and activities to do. I originally intended to travel for ten years, but within a couple months scratched that and instead said I would travel for the rest of my life.
I started getting a hint about the first law of the traveler as soon as I arrived in the United Kingdom. Two days after my arrival, I planned to go to Bath, a key British town on my bucket list. That night, I found a host in Brighton and took a bus down the next morning. Brighton instantly became a favorite city of mine, and remains my favorite city in England (not the UK, as that’s Edinburgh) to this day. The only problem is that I had intended to go to Bristol, the city next to Bath, and I got the names confused. After only one night in Brighton, I was on a bus to Bristol and Bath. All I could think about was getting back to Brighton to see more of the city, which I made happen for a week at the end of April after five weeks in Italy and before heading to Edinburgh.
A week later I arrived in Aberystwyth, Wales. I stayed with my host there for three days, exploring the quaint university town on the coast and relishing the stunning countryside. My host then directed me to go to Bangor and hike Snowdonia. I got on the bus that same day, but was unable to find a host to stay at, and there were no hostels in town. With nowhere to leave my bag (or so I thought at the time with my limited experience), I moved on to my next destination and left behind one of the most beautiful mountains in the UK for a later day.
I next traveled back through Bristol and London to a Workaway in Brussels, Belgium for two weeks. While there, I went to the Royal Museum, spent a day eating as many free samples of Belgian chocolate as I could (82 pieces), taking the free walking tours and pigging out on frites every day (god I miss Belgian fries!). Yet somehow I was idiotic enough not to realize that Brussels was the seat of the EU until after I left and was writing my post on the city. Two weeks and I didn’t take a single tour of the European Parliament, let alone dozens of other things I missed in one of the most diverse cities in the world. So that all stays on the bucket list.
Then there was Ghent. Need I say more about this perfect fairy tale of a town. I could have stayed there a month!
My 11 days in France were a joke. I spent less than two hours in Paris before making it to my Workaway where my British hosts (one drunk and the other high) served me with leftovers from their table. I saw almost nothing of France outside the tiny settlement I was in (population 355). That was a lesson in the law of the traveler if ever there was one!
The list goes on and on. During my three days in Budapest, I managed to make it to roughly 2% of the main attractions and sights I absolutely had to see before I left.
I didn’t make it to Cappadocia or Pamukkale in Turkey.
In Prague I didn’t eat a single schnitzel.
I missed the free walking tour in Helsinki.
I went to Chiang Mai but not to Pai!
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve checked thousands of items off my bucket list since I started traveling. But it never ends.
In fact, I’ve ended nearly every blog post I’ve written about a city this year by mentioning what I didn’t do and why I need to go back.
So here’s the law of the traveler:
The bucket list only gets longer!
P.S. If you have a good bucket list on your blog, feel free to comment below and give me the link. I want to write a follow up post with a collection of great bucket lists. Or if you have good ideas for bucket list items, share those too.