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The Tao of Travel

‘A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.’ ~Laozi

I’m not the world’s most seasoned traveler, but I have made a number of trips lately and have learned a few things that work well.

This year I’ve traveled to Guam for a month, to Portland, New York City, Las Vegas, London, Paris, Southern California. They’ve all been beautiful trips, and I’ve never taken more than a small backpack.

Travel lightly, with no set agenda, and you’ll have an amazing, stress-free trip.

Traveling doesn’t have to be stressful. It can be simple, if you keep it so.


  1. Pack little. I take a small backpack, and don’t pack it too heavy either. I’ve found through experience that I just need a pair of jeans, 2-3 T-shirts, 2-3 quick-dry boxer briefs, 2-3 pairs of quick-dry socks, maybe a light sweater. I wash things in the shower if they get dirty and hang them to dry overnight. I bring my laptop so I can work for 30-45 minutes every morning. A paperback novel, maybe a small notebook. Minimal toiletries: deodorant, toothbrush, razor, Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap (for washing clothes in the sink, and shaving), dental floss. I never wait to check my back or get the bag after the flight, and I can pack in 5 minutes.
  2. Have no agenda. I often ask for recommendations from locals, and get a list of incredible things. I’ll also put everything on a Google Map, so I can see where everything is. Then I toss all that out and let the day lead me where it will. Having no set agenda means you aren’t pressured to get anything done each day, which means you can enjoy yourself fully.
  3. Walk a lot. The best way to explore any place is to walk. Walk all over, with no set directions. Get lost.
  4. Eat lightly. Eat anything you want, but don’t eat a lot. I like to mix fruits and veggies in with the heavier stuff, so I don’t feel so heavy.
  5. Find space to relax. Most people try to do too much, and rush around all day. Stroll casually, find good coffee shops or tea shops to relax in, or a good sidewalk cafe with good wine. Find parks and enjoy them. If it rains, walk in the rain. Read a lot.
  6. Be present. Don’t be on your smartphone or laptop all the time. Don’t always think about what you’ll be doing later, or work stuff. Be fully present, and you’ll have a great time.
  7. Smile at people. Talk to the locals. Ask for recommendations. Find out about their lives.

A Few More

  • Do bodyweight exercises. I do a mix of pushups, squats, lunges, burpees in my hotel room or apartment.
  • Don’t just stay for a day or two. If you really want to see a city, stay for a week or more. I could have gone to Europe and hit up 10 cities in three weeks, but instead I split that time among just two cities (London & Paris) and really saw those cities.
  • Get a short-term apartment if you can. If you can stay for a week, get an apartment if you can afford it. It’s cheaper than a hotel and much more comfortable.
  • Read a good novel.
  • Bring a metal water bottle. I learned this from my friend Scott: pack an empty water bottle, so you can get through TSA security checkpoints, and then fill up the bottle at the airport water fountain after the checkpoint. I carry the water bottle around everywhere I go so I’m never thirsty.
  • Keep a journal. Don’t stress over the journal. It doesn’t have to be daily. Just write out your thoughts, impressions when you have some spare time.
  • Travel locally. For years I never traveled, to save costs. I was content where I was, and that’s still true. Be a tourist in your hometown — see the sights, walk the area, explore and try to find new things you’ve never seen before. You don’t need to spend a lot to travel locally.

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