How To Ruin An Epic Travel Experience

DEREK MARCH 5, 2017 Travel Experience

There I am. I’m sitting on the balcony of a beautiful wood cabin, staring out into the wilderness, listening to the sound of elephants roaring somewhere at the foot of the nearby hill. Flashes of lions and giraffes and cheetahs and black rhinos and warthogs appear in my head. Flashes of massive green mountains and never-ending savannas dotted with wildebeest, zebras and those unique and surreal acacia trees appear as well.

This is not a dream. It all really happened.

For 10 hours we were out there on safari in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, encountering a crazy variety of wildlife in every direction, bouncing across the beautiful landscape in our 4WD vehicle and walking along the banks of the Mara River. It was a most epic travel experience, even under the strictest of definitions, the kind of day that could easily be classified as once-in-a-lifetime.

And as I sat there on that cabin balcony, after the safari had ended and as the night rolled in, all I could do was…complain. Oh did I complain!

I was complaining that I was far behind with my work and had emails I needed to respond to. I was complaining that the internet wasn’t working properly at our remote safari lodge and that I had yet to start a new project that I had hoped to start by now. I was grumbling about my nostrils being clogged with dust and about not sleeping so well the night before…I don’t know…I was complaining so much that I think I even mumbled nonsense about my flip-flops being dirty and even about the staff at the lodge being too attentive. Yes, TOO attentive.

I was on a roll, locked in and shooting off complaints rapid fire.

What a fool.

A once-in-a-lifetime experience just ended, the kind of experience that, while growing up, I never would have imagined possible for an ordinary person like myself. Now here I was, in a most gorgeous corner of the planet, in Kenya for crying out loud, only minutes removed from a most perfect day in the wild, and all I could do was complain.

Epic Travel Experience - lions

It happens, I know that. Nobody is perfect. But still, it was not one of my best moments.

Lucky for me, I had someone there to listen to my complaints and to then reply with a few choice words and a few very clear facial expressions that immediately snapped me out of my negative trance. Sometimes we have someone there to help us, sometimes we need to wait until we figure it out on our own.

Either way, it’s indeed helpful to be reminded every now and then that sometimes we do need to forget ourselves and just ‘be’. Just sit there, open our eyes, look around and appreciate everything we have, everything we have been fortunate enough to experience and every person that is important to us.

When we can return to being present and forget about life’s little frustrations, when we can remember that those little frustrations should not control us and that they have far less value than we tend to give them, we can then discover a pretty powerful and genuine happiness that really is impossible to match.

If we’re living in the past or the future instead, there’s a high chance of being engulfed by a general unhappiness built upon regrets or fear.

We know this already of course, but yet we still lose our way, probably more often than we’d care to admit.

Epic Travel Experience - landscape

And when it comes to appreciation, I’m not talking fluffy stuff here. You don’t need to appreciate for the sake of appreciation or force yourself to appreciate a leaf blowing in the wind or your daily cappuccino.

But seriously, isn’t there something real and meaningful that takes place almost every day, something we witness or participate in or some interaction we have or some set of moments we thoroughly enjoy that we can and should be really thankful for?

I’m thankful right now for the bottle of my favorite moisturizer I decided to lug around East Africa and which is keeping my badly burnt nose quite cool and slightly less red. (Wait, is that a hidden complaint? Damn.)

Anyway, let’s be present and appreciate.

We don’t need lions and zebras and hippos and an epic travel experience to do that. Goats and cows and everyday moments can do the trick too if we’re paying attention.

As for me, I actually had the lions and zebras and hippos right in front of me and I still messed it up and got off track.

Complaining about wifi and nostril dust was simply absurd.

Well, lesson re-learned. Back on track I am and hopefully for a long time to come.



The quality of travelling is that winding up from what makes you stressful and complaining will ruin all the reasons – beautiful ones. Being in the positive side will lead to perfect moments but also never forget to be practical.





The benefits of traveling with a second language, you ask? Well, let me tell you about myself first.  My name is Jessica, and I am a native, English speaker.  I love to travel so I learned to speak Spanish fluently. It wasn’t easy, and I still have awkward moments (like the one time I was accidentally on Chilean television and had to sing their anthem…crickets…), but speaking a second language has made me a totally less awkward person (and that’s hard to do!).  Besides that, speaking Spanish (or any second language!) has many trip-changing benefits, and I’ll tell you about them from my experience:

Getting around easier! The most obvious benefit. Let me preface this by saying that I’m awful at directions – IN ENGLISH. Add a different language on top of that, and voilà! I’m stuck in a bus station all night. Traveling with Spanish increases the chances that someone (please! anyone!) can help me navigate the metros, trains, and buses. I can also read signs with ease, and thankfully, I never have to stress out about finding bathrooms, shops or bars. Ordering at restaurants has become an easy process for me, too. I can order exactly which local foods I’m craving (flautas, get in my tummy ahora!).

Tapas, La Rambla district - Barcelona, Spain

By far, my favorite part of traveling with a second language is making friends with the locals! Today, Spanish is the official language in 20 countries, and 410 million people speak it natively (Benny Lewis, Get ready, the 409,999,950 other native speakers I have not yet made friends with – I’m coming for ya! These friendships have transformed my traveling experience. I have been invited to a quinceañera in Mexico, house parties, a wedding, religious services, family gatherings, barbecues, and more. And not to mention, at an El Día de los Tres Reyes (Three Kings Day) celebration in Puebla, I found the doll in my rosca bread. SCORE!! And I didn’t even choke on it! I can guarantee that I wouldn’t have had these cultural experiences without speaking Spanish and making friends with the locals. According to Nelson Mandela, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” I couldn’t agree more! I mean, who can argue with Nelson Mandela?!

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SAVING MONEY. Have you ever been in a taxi, and you know that the driver is taking the long way home?  Or your hostel charges you fees that you had no idea about? Traveling with a second language can help keep your money in your pocket! I remember one instance in which I immediately started chatting up my taxi driver in Chile. As it turned out, he used to live where I went to university. He then discounted the price of the ride! YES! When I stayed in Madrid, I was paying TONS of money for food at higher-end stores: Corte Inglés and VIPS. After talking to some neighbors in Spanish, I found the coolest (and cheapest) markets in town. As a side note, many bartenders LOVED my sister and me for talking to them in Spanish!  You know what that means – FREE DRINKS!

Picture #5

Not only can speaking a second language make your travel experiences more memorable, but studies suggest that it’s great for your brain, too! It can improve cognitive skills not related to language and even shield against dementia in your old age (NY Times, “The Benefits of Bilingualism”). Also, speaking a second language can improve your love life! Yep, You heard that right. A recent study of 270 dating sites found that 97% of the sites asked customers if they were multilingual, and the most common reason was because learning another language is considered sexy (Phoenix News, “Language is sexy: Flex your multilingual six-pack”).

Are you convinced yet? There are muchísimos benefits of traveling with a second language! To end on a philosophical note: “The limits of my language are the limits of my universe”- (Ludwig Wittgenstein).



One of the perks in travelling is that we learn new things, explore new culture far different from ours and meeting new souls that can expand our perspective and understanding between cultural diversity and how we can destroy those boundaries. Travelling can help us to keep learning on how we can communicate with different people. That’s why language was never a wall to separate us from knowing certain countries and the locals.

WHY IT’S NEVER THE RIGHT TIME TO TRAVEL March 9, 2017 / By NomadicMatt


Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse writes our regular column on solo female travel. It’s an important topic I can’t adequately cover, so I brought in an expert to share her advice for other women travelers to help cover the topics important and specific to them! She’s amazing and knowledgeable. This post covers why there will always be reasons not to travel and how there will never be the perfect time to go!

Life is short — we have limited time to do the things that we really want to do. It’s also a voyage — or a sack of coins that are yours alone to spend. (Those are my metaphors for life, anyway.) And it’s supposed to be fun. For a lot of people, that means not waiting until retirement to travel but rather getting out there and exploring now.

If you want to travel now, but you’re scared to go it alone, you’ll be able to find excuses everywhere if you look for them. You’ll find ways to say you can’t do it right now: you’re not ready; your job, friends, or fears are holding you back; you have too many obligations.

Basically, these excuses mean you’ll never get on the road. Because at every stage of your life, you’ll be able to find a reason why it can’t work for you. It will never be the right time to travel — especially as a woman…

1) …because you’ll always be asked when you’ll settle down…

The Ruta 40 just outside of El Chaltén
A common question I get from people back home concerns when I’m going to “settle down.” Don’t I want a relationship and a family of my own? My question back to them is: Why is traveling and having a family mutually exclusive in this day and age? Families travel all the time, and some even full-time.

Of course, I have had to make choices, and there are sister lives that I didn’t live because I chose to travel. I won’t know what could have been with the handsome Frenchie, because I didn’t choose to stop being a travel writer and move in with him. It might have been nice, and naturally I can’t ever be sure that I made the best call, but I do know that sitting on the beach in Tanzania, writing this to you, is one of the happiest moments of my life, and that I have these moments all the time, because adventuring is what gives me life.

I used to think that if I wanted a relationship I’d have to give up this life of traveling. But since something in me always whispered “go,” I always left. It hurt me to my core, but I had to. Because Mr. Right will only have one thing to say to me, and that’s “May I join you?”

2) …because there will never be an accepted time for women to travel alone…

Woman looking onto the sunset and clouds at the top of Tabel Mountain while traveling
We women don’t have it easy. We are expected to be smart, collected, beautiful, graceful, strong, and slightly independent, but still docile enough to be loved and cared for by a partner. We are supposed to chase opportunities — but only the ones handed down to us by the status quo.

What I always find interesting, though, is that the women in history who are heralded are the ones who did the opposite of all of that.

Think of Harriet Tubman, Joan of Arc, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, and an endless list of other women who are pretty much universally loved and respected for doing the exact opposite of what society expected of them. We praise them for their bravery, and for having the kind of foresight and ability to question the system that made them into heroes later.

Now, traveling the world won’t make you a hero to the world, but what about to yourself?

3) …because you’ll always be a target…

Woman at secluded beach paradise
In the week before I started traveling on my own, an article came out about two girls who died in Vietnam, supposedly due to poisoned alcohol. Everyone was sending this article to me, telling me to “be careful” — ignoring that a deadly movie theater shooting had just taken place in Colorado, much closer to home than Vietnam. I went anyway, and I’ve stayed safe through almost five years of solo traveling.

While are no statistics that pertain specifically solo female travelers, there are statistics on violent crimes globally, such as rape and murder, and they’re actually encouraging. According to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, “over the past decade, rates of homicides in the most populous cities consistently decreased in all regions.” Additionally, murders and rapes are most often perpetrated by someone the victim knows, meaning it’s more likely to happen at home. And according to UNDOC, men are four times as likely as women to be victims of homicide worldwide.

So maybe the world isn’t as scary as it’s so often portrayed.

Traveling safely isn’t rocket science. Do what you do at home to stay safe, follow a few important safety tips, and choose places that are great for solo female travelers. Start there, get your feet wet, and branch out as you gain experience and confidence.

4) …because you will never have enough money…

Kristin Addis standing in a green field with views of rolling hills
I used to think that I needed to retire before I could travel full-time, and even then, I’d need to be pretty rich. For my week’s worth of paid time off, I was easily spending $2,000 in Mexico or Hawaii, trying to do it all and come back with photos of me having a blast on the beach with a $9 cocktail in my hand.

What I didn’t realize back then was that my money would have been worth two or three times as much had I strayed a bit farther away from home. Southeast Asia, India, and much of Central America can be dirt cheap, especially if you’re willing to do it on a shoestring. Staying in hostels, eating and traveling like locals, and moving more slowly are all great ways to save money and turn that week of PTO into a sabbatical instead.

Even if you’re earning minimum wage, having trouble figuring out how to travel cheaply, or just think you’re too poor to travel, if you’re sitting at a computer reading this right now with a passport that lets you go to other places in this world, you have the ability to make it happen financially. Change your mindset, and the rest will follow.

5) …because your family will always freak out…

girl with amazing glaciers in iceland
The toughest part of traveling solo is often the pushback from our parents. We wonder how we can get them see it from our point of view and support us.

The more important issue is what you’ll regret later. Will you wish that you’d stayed at home to please your parents, who — since they undoubtedly love you — do want you to live a happy and fulfilled life? Even if they don’t necessarily understand or support everything we do, our parents want the best for us. That’s what having a child is – understanding that you’re creating a human who will have her own brain, and eventually be an adult who is self-sufficient.

It’s your life, not theirs. Letting other people make monumental decisions for you is a great way to go down the path of regrets.

6) …because you’ll wait forever for someone to join you…

travel writer kristin addis relaxing on beaches in tofo
I understand not wanting to travel alone. I didn’t want to do it either, until I decided that I really just had to travel the world and it had to happen prior to turning 65. I knew my friends couldn’t do it with me — they had jobs they didn’t want to leave, and so did just about everyone else I could think of. Sometimes, the dream to travel will be yours alone, and that means you have to do it by yourself if you’re going to do it at all.

I was pretty worried about being lonely, but when people asked about that a few weeks into my trip, I laughed that I had ever had that fear. I was meeting other people constantly. It doesn’t matter if you’re shy; someone will probably start a conversation with you, especially if you stay in a social hostel. Once you get out there, you’ll see what I mean. It’s all about just taking that first step.


Every problem seems insurmountable at the time, but there are ways to get around those obstacles that keep you from traveling, no matter what. The key is to look for the solutions and break them down into manageable pieces rather than trying to tackle the entire thing at once. Save up, break the news to your parents, do your research so that you (and they) will be less worried, and let everyone else’s opinion stay with them. It’s your bag of coins, and your life. Get out there and spend it how you want to!

Kristin Addis is a solo female travel expert who inspires women to travel the world in an authentic and adventurous way. A former investment banker who sold all of her belongings and left California in 2012, Kristin has solo traveled the world for over four years, covering every continent (except for Antarctica, but it’s on her list). There’s almost nothing she won’t try and almost nowhere she won’t explore. You can find more of her musings at Be My Travel Muse or on Instagram and Facebook.


travelling is not something we brag or we travelling because we have extra money that we can spend going out and about. Travelling is what we do to see the world with our own eyes. Experiencing the divisions and differences of other cultures from ours -and loving it’s uniqueness. We dont live in one place, we go to different places and leaving a piece of our heart in those moments that whenever we go back, it will always feels like love.