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Senior Correspondent

Whether you are a tourist, a long-term traveler, or engaging in the more recent titles of vagabonding or indie travel, you will need to carry these things along with you. They don’t weigh much, are easily packed, are not expensive, and won’t rot, mildew, or freeze. In spite of all their benefits, however, they are all too often forgotten, neglected, or misplaced. 

A travel website out of Australia, Bootsnall.com, has put together the Indie Travel Manifesto. Indie has become the modern term for anything independent. Manifesto, in my dictionary, is defined as “a public declaration of motives and intentions by a government or by a person or group regarded as having some public importance.” Manifesto is a strong word, but I guess it fits. My more simple advice? Don’t leave home without them. 

I will mention a few of them in light of having spent about 18 nomadic years wandering the world, sometimes settling in for anywhere from one year to five years. Although, in the later years, I sometimes stumbled upon internet cafes, almost all my travel was just me and my Lonely Planet guidebooks. “Be humble, good-humored, courteous and patient,” speaks for itself. It’s just common sense. Two more: “Find pleasure in simple moments and details,” and, “Listen!” These are harder tasks than they sound, especially with overconfident, verbose Americans.

“Adapt as you go,” rightly presupposes that everything won’t work out as you plan. So, pack enough flexibility to change plans for any number of unknowns and the wisdom to know when and how to do so. “Slow down; enjoy the experience,” tells you that rushing through countries and experiences ends up in a messy blur. “Make meaningful connections,” opens up the opportunity to gain more from your travels than you ever expected. Solo travel — albeit with occasional, temporary hookups with other travelers — gives you much more opportunity to interact with locals.

“Seek to understand other cultures,” is perhaps the best advice for indie travelers. That was the driving force that kept me endlessly challenged and happily on the move for so many years. You can read about other cultures, but the experience of living in these other cultures adds many dimensions to your understanding of the world we live in. Go with questions and open eyes to see “the nuances of the world.”

But don’t forget to smile. I remember looking out the window on a stopped train in rural China in 1988. A Chinese peasant was walking near the train and stared intently at me. I’m sure I was the first foreigner he had ever seen in person. He looked surprised, fearful, and quite like one would look at an alien from another planet. I broke into a wide smile. I could read his mind and see his relief. “She’s a human being too,” he must have thought, because he shyly smiled back.

Travel can be an adventurous time machine, either forward or backward. So, don’t gripe and whine about what’s not the same as at home. Explore and appreciate what is around you instead of longing for what you left behind. I can’t say what travel with technology is like, considering live streaming, filming, blogging, and vlogging aren’t my style. But, Mark Twain’s words are as true today as when he wrote them: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it solely on these accounts.”

Chances are high that you won’t come back the same.

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