22 Things I’ve UNLearned About Traveling at 22

This is my official adult birthday since graduation and I celebrated by getting my eyebrows done, putting the $50 mom gifted me into my savings, and doing leg day after a 9 hour shift. With that said, I’m still sort of satisfied. I felt the love coming all the way from Vancouver to Hong Kong. This entire year carried my life’s most testing and rewarding moments and I’m going to share with you some things that 16 countries helped me unlearn about travel.

  1. Everyone can travel

    More on how privilege impacts our ability to travel here.

  2. Travel is glamourous

    More on how traveling is not all well-lit Instagram posts here.

  3. Travel and vacation are the same

    More on learning the difference between travel for passion and travel for pleasure here.


  4. Everyone is out to get you

    There are more good people than bad. Most people welcome and dance and feed with open hearts. Embrace them.

  5. Women shouldn’t travel alone

    People are often shocked when I tell them I enjoy doing this on my own. There was a time when I was asked if I was traveling with my parents, now its leaped to “husband”. More on this here.

  6. Brown girls don’t travel alone

    They do. Read more on how to do it here.

  7. Wifi is like water, a necessity

    I don’t have data in Toronto and I’m fine without it abroad. People can help, have conversations, ask questions.

  8. Traveling is a selfish act

    I get a lot of passive aggressive comments for leaving my family behind to travel and using the money I EARNED on MYSELF instead of saving for “the future”. It’s not selfish to do what you love. Make it clear and don’t take anyone’s shit.

  9. Souvenirs help you remember memories

    Memories help you remember memories. I’ve made the mistake of getting too many things for people that never asked for me when I came back. So go ahead, spend it on that ice-cream. More on cheap/free souvenirs here.


  10. Brown girls shouldn’t tan

    I want to thank my friend Banin for taking me to Cuba and showing me how toned, defined, and healthy a tan can look, even on brown girls. Fuck that Fair & Lovely shit.

  11. It’s hard to travel to places where you don’t speak the local language

    It is, but it doesn’t mean you don’t do it. Body language sees no borders.

  12. Plan everything

    Because everything always goes as expected…

  13. Meet the luggage requirements

    Please, don’t. If you’re allowed 21lbs, take 15lbs. Pack light. Travel is all about testing what you can live without while making room for new.

  14. You have to fly to travel

    My favorite definition of travel is anything and anywhere new. New food, new music, new people, whether here or across the world.

  15. You should always stay with your travel group

    You always have the option of branching off. Do not let other people distort your experience.

  16. Taking a taxi is better/cheaper/faster

    Taxi drivers are lovely people to try your language skills on but don’t bother if your bargaining isn’t on point. They are experts in harassment, rate hikes, and d-tours.

  17. It’s your responsibility to save the people

    Put down your white/North American burden and stop taking selfies with colored kids. Volunteering is great but making you the center of the narrative isn’t. Read more about voluntourism here.

  18. Instagram is a realistic representation of an individual

    Instagram is a form of social currency where you can make people think you’re in Cuba for 7 months if you don’t ‘#tbt’. I enjoy this.


  19. Romances last forever

    Oscar Wilde once said, “They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever”. Relationships we shape abroad are heavy but time and distance have a way of softening promises to stay in touch. Don’t take it to heart. More on falling in love while traveling here.

  20. Pics or it didn’t happen

    I love pictures and I love sharing them even more. But sometimes, the lens is too mediocre to capture the beauty we delve in. Not all stories need visuals.


  21. Home is a location

    Google maps may geographically know our home, but it does not know where our heart is. If that was the case, mine would be in Havana. *Queue Camila*

  22. Think about the bigger picture.

    If there is anything I’ve learned this year, it’s hina dilwati, which translates to “here now”. These were some of the first Arabic words I learned and now they’ve become a mantra. This matters more than then.

Thanks for the lovely birthday wishes, everyone. xoxo.

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