Buenos Aires, Argentina
A few suggestions for current and future travelers…
Traveler: Accept that you will have perpetually loose stools. Carry your own toilet paper (remove the cardboard to make it portable).
Traveler: Carry a mosquito net. When it's bad enough to break it out, you'll thank yourself.
Traveler: Never give a taxi driver the opportunity to speed off with your belongings. Always lock the doors for safety.
Traveler: If you're carrying around a laptop just for writing, consider a PDA and collapsible keyboard setup as a smaller, lighter, and cheaper alternative.
Traveler: Buy memory cards for your digital camera that can be physically locked into read-only mode. Countless photos have been lost by those who trusted a clerk, computer, or kiosk with their memories.
Traveler: If you don't carry your passport on your person (like me), keep a US$20 bill wrapped around your divers license—used individually or collectively, it's probably all you'll need to get out of a tight spot.
Traveler: Ask yourself, what have I given back?
Traveler: Ask yourself, what have I learned?
Traveler: Ask yourself, how have I grown?
Traveler: Ask yourself, what are my passions?
Traveler: Ask what it is after you've eaten it.
Traveler: The Lonely Planet is not the Bible. Use the maps, but read the subjective opinion(s) after you've visited the city for a few days (and compare).
Traveler: The slower you travel, the less it costs. As you live in a city you figure out how to reduce your expenditures.
Traveler: Don't let people steal your time on the street. Give it to those who deserve it, and aren't trying to take from you. Don't react to worthless calls for your attention.
Traveler: Don't be afraid to slaughter the local language—saying something is better than nothing.
Traveler: Give hitchhiking a try. I've received rides from wealthy business women to construction workers (and many professions in between).
Traveler: Save the cost of a room by traveling longer distances at night—do everything in your power to never arrive in a new city after dark.
Traveler: Don't be afraid to find (and enjoy) intimacy in the arms of another.
Traveler: Cover/conceal your guidebook with heavy paper—like you might have done years ago with school textbooks—you're now free to read or reference your anonymous book in public without making yourself a bigger target.
Traveler: Carry light accessories to make your life more comfortable: An immersion heater for boiling a cup of water, a universal drain stopper for hand washing clothes, an unbreakable plastic mirror, and a current tap for use when there's a light bulb but no electrical outlet.
Traveler: Antibiotics are probably inexpensive and won't require a prescription—feel free to self-medicate.
Traveler: Get off the tourist trail. You will be rewarded.
Traveler: Always research the exchange rate before you jump across the border.
Traveler: Try carrying a small compass to help orient yourself (to maps, known landmarks, the ocean) when you get off a bus or emerge from a subway.
Traveler: Add powdered flavoring to local water for variety, and to instantly forget the source.
Traveler: Electrical tape can be better to carry than duct tape (it's easily removed and reused multiple times).
Traveler: Fake your onward tickets.
Traveler: Carry a small headset with you to make Internet-based phone calls (often times a computer and connection is available, but no means of audible communication).
Traveler: Own an alarm clock you trust.
Traveler: You might keep your money in your front pocket to help against pickpockets, but go the extra step, take a handkerchief or bandanna and shove it in there as well to keep more experienced bandits at bay.
Traveler: Use a sarong as your beach towel—dries incredibly fast, lightweight, and doesn't take up any space (in your pack).
Traveler: Carry a micro-umbrella.
Traveler: Paying locals for their photograph only encourages the (bad) behavior.
Traveler: Use other pedestrians as shields/blockers when crossing the street, and walk against the flow of traffic for safety.
Traveler: When leaving, use a bed sheet to dry off after your shower (if you don't want to pack a wet towel).
Traveler: Carry a calculator, and always use your own at money exchanges.
Traveler: Use the fan, even if you're not hot—the breeze will help keep mosquitoes from landing on you.
Traveler: Avoid messy driver issues with computers and your camera—carry a light, inexpensive multi-format card reader with you. Bonus: Download photos from others.
Traveler: Think about taking a synthetic (microfiber) towel—it's packable, and dries in a fraction of the time the cotton variety takes.