How to Travel for 22 Days: Modifications, Tips, and Tricks for 21st Century Explorers

Have you ever had 22 days away from work?

Have you ever traveled for over three weeks straight?

If not, you are in luck. I’ve just finished my longest journey to date. I started in Phucket, Thailand and travel across Indonesia to Malaysia. I learned some interesting and important lessons along the way that I’d like to share with you.

I have never traveled for this length of time and I definitely have never had over three weeks off work.

How did I do it?

Well, in this post, I will share with you about how I traveled for almost an entire month. Getting a three weeks off from your day job is another post that will be coming soon.

Here’s a hint, stop procrastinating!

I believe that experience is the one of life’s greatest and effective teachers. More so, learning from other’s experience if more efficient than any classroom setting.

The following list reflects my lessons learned from traveling over the past year including my most recent and longest trip over the past month.

Before you step out the door and take on the world, ask yourself a few important questions.

Do you have what it takes to survive for three weeks abroad? Can you wear the same outfit for three days straight?

Well, if you are hesitating here is how I traveled for 22 days straight.

Below are some recommendations, tip, tricks, and modifications for your journey. I hope they ease your adventure’s difficulty, but still maintain the experience’s rich wild side.


Tip #1: Buy charcoal tablets

Always keep a set of these on hand for emergency use. This medication costs less than a dollar. They are light as a feather and the investment pays huge dividends if you find yourself in a messy situation. If you don’t know what these are for then consider yourself fortunate. Charcoal tablets should be used to relieve extreme bowel movements like diarrhea. They will clog up the pipes until you make it safely home where you can relax on a familiar toilet. There are few things worse than traveling on a dodgy stomach.

Note: In extreme cases of diarrhea, bring a plastic grocery bag or two with you during the journey. Bathrooms are few and far between in certain parts of the world.


Tip #2: Pack a couple of gallon size Ziploc bags

The freezer bags work best!

iPad’s fit perfectly in one Ziploc freezer bag. In the event of a thunderstorm, your tablet will be waterproof. Feel free to double bag it if you are paranoid about the water seeping in. It works perfectly. This cheap and relatively simple trick can be used not only to guard against rainwater, but Ziploc bags can also be used to compress socks, underwear, and bathing suits into airtight, waterproof, bags that maximize the space in your backpack by minimizing the items that take up the most. They work like shrink wrap to decompress air and create open space. Another use that I used a Ziploc bag for was protect my iPhone while snorkeling at the Gili Islands in Lombok. Snorkeling was absolutely amazing! The best part was the seal of the Ziploc never broke.

Note: The Ziploc was used to further protect my iPhone which is protected by a LifeProof case, see Tip #6.


Tip #3: Don’t check any bags at the airport. Commit to carry-on!  

Always carry your baggage with you on the plane. It is very easy for airlines to lose your baggage, especially on connecting flight, at international airports. Losing your baggage can quickly turn your sweet time away from work into a sour hassle.

Make sure you buy a medium to small-sized backpack that fits international carry-on regulations. Pick one that will you can carry on the plane. This saves you countless checked baggage fees, waiting times, and the mishap of lost luggage. Yikes!

Save yourself the hassle of checking-in bags, paying extra baggage fees, and paying the airlines extra money out of your pocket. Plus, you can skip the check-in line and opt for self check-in saving you time and money in the process. An added bonus is that if by chance you are running late, nothing is quicker than checking in at automated kiosks.

By choosing to carrying-on your baggage, you minimize the risk of losing your belongings. Your maintain responsibility for your travel essentials. Don’t let someone else ruin your trip.

Bonus Tip:

Equip your backpack with a thick, black, heavy duty garbage bag. It will waterproof your bag better than 99% of bags for sale. Bring two- one for the inside and an emergency outside cover-up.

Though it is quite tempting to buy a flashy, new backpack before departing, remember, traveling can be a  dirty and dangerous adventure. The elements strive to ruin your white clothes, shoes, and backpack at every opportunity. Try and resist the temptation to buy a new backpack. Grab a used one or borrow one from a friend. The money you save will go further on the road. Plus, a shiny, new backpack screams tourist. You are targeting yourself with unwanted attention. And when filthy bathroom water, dirt and muck get all over you new pack, you will have wished you settled on something cheaper.


Tip #4: Bring a good book instead of an eReader.

No electronic reading device beats a good book while on the road. Books don’t run on batteries. They don’t need to be charged. You can read them as the plane is taking off, while everyone else is required to turn off their devices. If your book gets wet, it will dry. You can bring it to the beach without the worry of sand ruining it. You can go swimming without the worry of it getting stolen. If your book is soft bound and thick enough, it might even make a great pillow. Book swaps are common in popular destinations. Readers can swap their finished book out with another for a small fee.

Leave the iPad, Kindle, or Nook and their chargers at home. Bring a nice, long book and commit to finishing it.


Tip #5: Buy a sarong or plan on buying one at your final destination.

A sarong is a long piece of fabric or cloth that is typically worn as a skirt or cover-up. The garment is wrapped around the body and tucked in at the waist or under the arm-pits. This amazing item is used and found across many parts of Southeast Asia. Besides its typical use as a skirt, dress, or cover-up, sarongs can be used as beach towels, bed spreads protecting from unwanted critters like bed bugs, scarfs, or just a little something extra to keep warm at the movies.


Tip #6: Buy, bring, or borrow an iPhone or iPod Touch.

Expensive? Yes.

Overrated? No.

Buying an iPhone is one of the greatest purchases that I have ever made. Before the purchase of my iPhone, I was the laughing stock of all my friends in the cellular department. I carried an old school Samsung flip phone. I couldn’t browse the Internet. I didn’t have cool ringtones. It was one of the old types that you see in donation boxes at Best Buy. I couldn’t take pictures. It didn’t have a cool keyboard like the Blackberry. The only thing that I could do was call people and receive their calls. While everyone I knew upgraded to awesome cell phones like the Motorolla RAZR, Blackberry, or even the first and second generation iPhone, I waited. I waited for Apple to improve it. Then, they added the flash, front facing camera, and Retina screen. My patience was rewarded during the purchase of my first smartphone, the iPhone 4.

Hailed by many travelers including myself as the Swiss Army knife of the 21st Century, Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch are essential to the modern day traveler. And unlike a real Swiss Army knife, you can carry your iPhone or iPod Touch on an airplane. For travelers trying to minimize the weight of their carry-on, the iPod Touch is superior. It is thinner and weighs less than the iPhone. Though the iPhone weighs more, it is an exceptional device when unlocked. Make sure you understand the difference between unlocking your iPhone and jailbreaking it. They are two entirely different processes. The benefits of unlocking your iPhone is that international SIM cards can be used to make and receive calls internationally. SIM cards can be found everywhere in the world and can be interchanged while traveling from country to country. Just make sure that your phone is unlocked through Apple or it will not work. Cellular companies like AT&T ,Verizon, and Sprint have different stipulations on the unlocking process. Make sure you contact both before leaving the country if you are planning on getting a new SIM card.

The cornerstone of mobile devices and smartphones, the iPhone, is equipped with everything a traveler needs for their journey. It’s essentially a miniature computer that features a camera, translator, notepad, alarm, watch, GPS navigation and maps, calculator, video camera, mp3 player, flashlight (recent models), Skype, and even an eReader. What more could you need? My personal recommendation is to equip your device with a LifeProof case. Find out more here. Shipping rates to the USA and Europe are free.

Note: I get no reward for your purchase of a LifeProof. It is just an amazing case. I have had mine for almost a year and my phone still looks brand new. Their Four Proofs video is amazing. Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Tip #7: Don’t forget the essentials.

Always remember to bring your passport, plane tickets, and money. Make sure your passport is up to date and isn’t going to expire during your travels. Make a few copies of it to be safe.

Plane tickets, reservation, confirmation numbers, and any itineraries should be kept on hand in case of emergency. Even in the 21st century, the Internet isn’t everywhere. Domestic data plans don’t work overseas unless you upgrade to international package which carry a heftier price tag.

Cash is king. Plan on carrying cash, paper money, with you everywhere. Try to minimize your use of ATMs. International withdraw fees will kill your wallet. Always bring a credit card in case of emergency.


Tip #8: Thoroughly inspect all accommodation before you commit.

Do a thorough search of any and every room you are considering a night’s stay in before your pay. The upkeep of a room says a lot about where you are staying. Look for cobwebs in the corners of the room, animal droppings on the floor, and any signs of neglect and uncleaniness. Insects and rodents come out at night and they hide everywhere. Even my most expensive accommodation in Indonesia came with spiders the size of a grown mans hands.

Check the water pressure on the shower, toilet, and sink. A shower that cuts off mid-shampoo rinse is disappointing yet a common experience shared among seasoned travelers.

Even the best looking accommodation can have poor care. Make sure you get what you pay for.

This guy was in the window of my bathroom. He was at least 12 inches long.


Tip #9: Stay fully-charged

Make sure you charge your batteries. This includes your physical and mental well-being, health, and getting enough rest along with charging all your electronic devices. The best way to optimize your time is charge everything together. Plug your camera or iPhone in before you rest.

Don’t miss capturing that epic moment because you were too neglectful to charge your camera.

Oh, and don’t forget to bring your chargers and a universal adapter. Power outlets vary from country to country.

Tip #10: Rise early

It is amazing what you can accomplish in a day by waking up an hour or two earlier.

Give yourself more time to explore the city, forest, mountain, or beach. Accomplish more than others by waking up earlier than them. Watch the sunrise. Go for a run. Catch up on some reading at a local cafe.

Especially while traveling, the early hours of the morning are safer than the late hours of the night. Wake up early and retire to bed earlier. This formula suits the successful and seasoned traveler well.

Most importantly,

Get up early on departure days. The sooner you leave, the better chance you have of beating inclement weather, delays, traffic jams, and avoiding problems with congestion. Getting stuck in immigration lines and putting yourself in situations where time is short is avoidable. Beat the crowds by rising early.


Tip #11: Eat the local food.

Try the local cuisine, specialty dishes unique to the area, and any home-made cooking. If it sounds different or usual, try it. If you have never tasted it, eat it. Try the delicacies of the surrounding area. You might be surprised when you find something that you really like.

Also, try and find a balance between eating casual and going to  finer dining experiences. It is tempting to eat out at expensive restaurants during you holiday break, but be warned that habits like this drain your savings quickly. Smaller boutiques and diners often have better food than corporate chains and upscale restaurants at half the price. It is common for the fancier upscale places to do a modern “twist” on a local delicacy. Often times, their interpretation is more expensive and it lacks the authentic taste promised. They simply offer a richer price tag for blander food. This is not true for every upscale dining experience, but particularly ones located in touristy areas.

Reward yourself from time to time, but give the local cuisine a chance and save some money in the process.

Organic mixed salad and a beet, orange, and banana smoothie. The toast in the background is made from chickpeas. Delicious!


Tip #12: Leave the tourist traps.

Escape the tourist attractions by finding an authentic experience. Most of the native culture and history has been destroyed in tourist destinations across the globe. The culture has been decimated to fast food chains,hawkers, and gift shops selling the same pointless stuff. Break away from the tours, “specially-priced” expeditions, and local amusements for at least a day and get lost in the local surroundings. Don’t get too lost or put yourself in a dangerous place (very possible, but highly unlikely), but do something more meaningful than hanging out at Starbucks or going to McDonalds. Try a hip, local coffee shop that features recipes and blends that you cannot try at home. Try a local sandwich eatery that doesn’t come with a combo option and French fries instead opting for their sweet potato wedges and homemade strawberry root beer on tap.

Hint: If you can see the Golden Arches, then your location isn’t remote enough. Strike up a conversation with the locals and find out what they do for fun or where they go to eat. Whatever you do, just get out of the tourist trap.

This is the waiting line to use the only toilet available at one of the popular temples in Bali.


Tip #13: Lighten your load

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” – Susan Heller

Pack less. Carry less. Bring only the essentials.

Now, if you follow this advice, you will have room for all the things that you want to buy while traveling.

Tip #14: Research the water.

If you are traveling to another country especially a second or third world countries, find out if the water is healthy to drink. Do not over analyze this part of the trip. You only need to know if it is drinkable.

If the tap water is not drinkable, decide if you want to buy bottled water from the convenience store which is the easiest and most available option, or bring your own water purifier which is the most environmentally friendly. Depending on the length of your travel, one solution may be more cost effective than the other. For water purifiers, I recommend the SteriPEN Freedom. The purifier kills bacteria using UV light. Note: This purifier does not filter the water -though SteriPEN does make a bulkier version on their website that does. This type of device really depends on where you are traveling.

If a water purification device cost too much and you don’t want to add to buy bottled water, then boiling water can be a great alternative considering you have the right resources. It is much more time consuming, but the best option for environmentalists.

Here is an interesting opinion on the problems with bottled water.


Tip #15: Wear flip-flops.

Disregard this tip for colder climates, but for intermediately cool weather to hotter climates they are the ultimate travel shoes. They are weather, dirt, mud, and dust resistant. They are great to use in public showers. They rinse and clean easily. Most importantly, they lighten your load. Wearing flip-flops reduces the need to carry multiple pairs of socks and heavy walking shoes. They are the perfect rainy weather shoe. The best part is that you don’t get any blisters from walking around in flip-flops.

Another fascinating note, if you flip-flop breaks, you can even fix it with a bread clip:


Tip #16: Be friendly to the local people.

Believe it or not, you will get scammed at some point during your travels. The locals will rip you off. Welcome this occasion with a smile and remember to be friendly to them.

As a guest in their country, pay the locals some respect. Feel free to bargain them down on their prices, but don’t throw a fit over fifty cents. Remember, bargaining can be a win-win situation.

Try and support their cause, whatever it may be.

For example, in Indonesia, some of the local men and women that live/work on the remote beaches demand that you buy a coconut or pineapple before setting foot on their beach. If not, they make you promise to buy one before leaving the beach. Typically, the women wield machetes in their left hand and coconuts in their right, while the men drive motorbikes with their machetes on the beach selling coconuts. Now, you could haggle with them about not needing a coconut, but sometimes it’s just easier to buy the coconut and support the local economy and a better cause- your hydration, health, and physical well-being than pissing off someone holding a machete.


Tip #17: Skip airport taxis at every cost.

Do not get into a taxi at the airport. Take a train, bus, or walk to the nearest public road and get one. This tip will save you a lot of money.

Taxi companies are shameless in ripping you off. They will lie to your face and tell you that all taxi prices are the same. Do not believe them. They are making a profit off your ignorance. It is a scam. Listen to them as you walk away. Their prices will drop by 80% and they will still be ripping you off. The best thing to do is ignore them, walk away, and find another mode of transport.

Please understand that in many airports around the world, taxi companies operating at the airport are completely different than taxis that operate in the city on public roads. Imagine them as miniature monopolies of airport transit. The taxi companies jack up the price to catch tired, unknowing tourists exiting the airport. They have strict regulations and law-biding contracts about other companies picking up passengers at the airport. This is why many other taxi companies will not pick you up when you flag them down at the arrival pick-up.

Tip #18: Don’t bother traveling.

This quote has quickly consumed my thoughts while traveling across Indonesia and Malaysia. Anytime, I questioned myself about something while traveling, this phrase came to mind.

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.” – James Michener

The power of the quote works great in difficult situations that you will encounter traveling. Its wisdom destroys fear. Traveling puts us in new and different situations that test our limits. Keep this phrase in mind before letting your imagination run wild. Think twice about testing the uncomfortable waters of travel.


Tip #19: Check your fabric tags.

Do you know those little tags inside of your shirts, underwear, and pants that you never look at?

It’s time to put them to use.

While packing, look through your closet and check the types of fabric that you are bringing.

Pack clothes that are light, durable, and dry quickly. Clothing materials like this include nylon, polyester, and rayon fabrics. Try to avoid packing cotton and jean items. This will lighten your load and save you time.


Tip #20: Pack healthy snack foods on travel days.

It’s hard to know when the next meal time will be on travel days. Regardless of the length of your journey, healthy snacks will always be a positive addition to your journey. Their weight is worth carrying. Make sure they are unopened and do not spoil easy. Even if you do not eat them during your travel day, they will always be put to good use later whether you eat them or give them to another.

While certainly not the healthiest snack bar, I prefer to carry a six pack box of Clif Bars with me when I travel long distances. They taste great. They are vegetarian. They are packed with protein. They work as a meal replacement snack.


Tip #21: Be safe, responsible, and respectful.

Remember, everything will be fine during your travels. When you are traveling in countries outside of your own, the rules are different. Be cautious. The people are different. The culture is different. What is acceptable is your country, may be disrespectful in another. What is disrespectful in your homeland may be socially acceptable in another country. Always remember to be courteous in other lands. You are responsible for your actions and reactions.

Remember you are traveling in a country that is not your own. The rules are different. The western world has a different respect for time than Eastern cultures do. Across the world, people live their daily lives in many different ways. The extremity of these differences might offend. If you cannot understand them or do not want to try and see a different point of view, do yourself a favor and stay home. Being safe, responsible, and respectful of others is a rewarding experience. It might even turn out to be the best education that you’ll ever have.


Tip #22: Plan on spending more than you think.

This applies for money, energy, and time. You will spend more than your think of all three.

You can set budgets all you want, but there are hidden fees all over the place while traveling. An example of this is Indonesia charges departure tax on all international departures. Service charges and government taxes vary countries across the globe. In Bali, I ate at places that taxed the final total of the  bill anywhere from 0% to 22%.

Traveling is tiring. A normal day of traveling exhausts the mind and body like a full day of work. Adding to that exhaustion is the pressure of finding out where you are and being in a new culture surrounded by people speaking a language you don’t understand. Then, imagine being starving and dehydrated.

You will experience delays along the journey. In Lombok, the engine fell off the back of public transport boat. It fell into the ocean, like; we had to switch boats in the middle of the ocean. Luckily, we were close enough to shore that we could call for a new boat. Situations like this happen. Travels teaches a personal strength that cannot be taught in any classroom.


I am excited to be back from my journey through Indonesia and Malaysia. I have learned a lot in the past three weeks that I am going to share with the PP community through my upcoming blog posts in coming weeks. I look forward to hearing your comments on the new material.

This article’s aim is to help readers prepare for their travels abroad and make it easier along the way. If you are an experienced traveler with any tips or tricks that would benefit the community, please post them below. If you are about to commence your traveling or have any questions, please let me know in the comment section below.

Many regards,


About Stephan Stansfield

Stephan is the owner, creator, and editor of Peregrine Poise.
He is currently traveling and teaching around the world. When he is not helping others discover their true potential, he finds time to surf, read, and reflect on the important issues of living a good life.

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