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Santa Barbara, Ca

I'm a full-time rambler and contract designer with as many skill sets in my quiver as there are plane tickets in my passbook. I've worked in ornamental iron, jigsaw puzzle design, bookmaking, glass engraving, and a variety of other mediums. I'm currently living out of a backpack as I trek my way around the world.

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Ten Things Every Traveler Should Know (part 2)

Zak Erving

Important inventory for good travel

Important inventory for good travel

I've already featured a ten-item list of things that every traveler should know, but I didn't mean for it to be solely definitive. It's solid wisdom and practical advice, but I didn't want it to stop there—so here's another ten things every traveler should know:

Never reject a gift, especially if that gift fits in pint glasses and can be shared amongst friends

Never reject a gift, especially if that gift fits in pint glasses and can be shared amongst friends

Never reject a gift. Whether you're offered a ride into the city center or a cappuccino at a café in Italy, accepting the gift does everyone a lot of good. Additionally, it's a huge insult in some cultures to decline a gift. Take a cue from St. Francis of Assisi, and you and your host/ess will both be better for it.

You're the only one who can deem something "once-in-a-lifetime." It's bogus to relegate an unusual experience as something that will only happen once in one's lifetime (unless the Hale-Bopp comet has returned). If the experience is worth doing a second time around, it's totally in your power to make it happen.

Never doubt the value of a towel. Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a comedic masterpiece, but don't let that fool you into thinking that he was just joking when he described the towel as the most utilitarian item in a hitchhiker's backpack. (I wouldn't say *the* most utilitarian, personally, but that's just me.)

Don't panic. Two in a row! Douglas Adams' timeless wisdom finds itself etched onto the cover of every copy of the fictitious Hitchhiker's book. Real-life sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke (of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame) even said that this is perhaps the best advice given to humanity of all time, and it makes a fine motto for travelers.

You'll meet members of your karass more frequently on the road. Kurt Vonnegut defines a karass as a group of people who are working together—oftentimes unknowingly—to do the will of god (or manifest cosmic order, whichever you prefer). Short-term friendships on the road run deep, and it's not unheard of for these brief interactions to have lifelong effects.

Occam's Razor isn't just for philosophy & science…it's for travel, too. If you've got two or more options for getting there or trying it, and you're fairly sure that each of them will provide a solution, go with the simpler one. You'll save yourself the headache.

Does this look live I've run out of fun?

Does this look live I've run out of fun?

Don't leave a place when you've already "run out of fun." Leave right before you run out of fun. If you leave when you've seen everything, boredom and ennui are more likely to creep in and spoil your final, lasting impression of that place. Plus, don't you want to come back?

Give yourself room to breathe at the end of a trip. Landing on Sunday and starting back at your job on Monday will leave you jet-lagged and work-dragged, and you'll be less likely to spend valuable time reflecting and readjusting.

If there's one thing to splurge on, let it be food. I have stayed in crummy places after a delicious meal and been wonderfully content. By contrast, I've slumbered in luxury and wished I could forget what I ate for dinner. The Spanish like to say, "The belly rules the mind," and I heartily agree. It's sound advice from the land of paella, tapas, and sangria.

It's okay to spend a day doing absolutely nothing. It's easy to get caught up in a new place: we want to explore, make, do, move, meet, etc. But if we aren't careful, this frenetic whirlwind idea of travel will wear us out quickly, and we'll be in no shape to fully appreciate the critical moments.

What other principles have you learned while traveling? Have any you'd like to share?