Being “good” at travel isn’t the point of travel.
Evan S. Rice learned this first hand when he quit his job at age 25, bought a one-way ticket to East Africa and wandered the world for 10 months. As an independent traveler in the truest sense, Rice wasn’t a travel expert when he set out on that first trip. But with dozens of stamps in his passport now, Rice has solid road warrior experience that he’s now sharing with others.
Rice compiled his best travel tips in a new book called The Wayfarer’s Handbook: A Field Guide for the Independent Traveler. The book is a fun and random collection of modern-day travel advice, trivia and anecdotes, including these 10 tips and tidbits:
10. The irresistible feeling to quit your job, abandon your family and go travel is called “dromomania.”
9. There’s an ancient reason why you don’t sleep well the first night of a trip. The left hemisphere of the brain stays fully alert the first night you sleep in an unfamiliar place, “likely the result of an evolutionary trait protecting humans from predators,” Rice writes about a 2016 jet lag study.
8. Putting your hands in your pockets in South Korea and Turkey can imply boredom or lack of respect.
7. There are no generally accepted rules about waiting in line. In England, Canada and the U.S., people systematically queue up. In Japan, people leave a piece of tape or a token to mark their place in line. In China, if you let someone go ahead of you, you’re acknowledging that that person is of higher class.
6. Rice details 27 common scams that travelers should be aware of. These include having your bag sliced open during a long bus or train journey and a super-friendly local offering to tour you around his city under the guise of practicing his English and then demanding payment.
5. Only three countries in the world have not adopted the metric system: the United States, Liberia and Myanmar.
4. In Japanese, the term yokomeshi means the stress of stringing together a few learned words to try to communicate with a foreigner. It literally means “cooked rice eaten horizontally.”
3. Among items banned in Saudi Arabia: old newspapers, fireworks and “greeting cards with small musical devices which work automatically when the card is moved.”
2. If you buy an item in a developing country with a fluctuating economy, don’t be surprised to receive your change in the form of candy, soda, matches or other token items. A lot of people don’t have enough currency to make change.
1. In some countries, locals only smile at people they know personally. Smiling at a stranger could be perceived as insincere, mocking or just plain odd.