Naturally, you can’t hit the road without money and a passport, but setting the obvious essentials aside, there’s only one thing you really need to travel well: the right attitude.
Hokey? Yes. True? Also yes.
There are a lot of disappointed, frustrated tourists and travelers in the world, and most of them reached that state by poorly managing their expectations.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Good travelers practice humility, compassion, and patience. If one missed train, one crowded tourist attraction, or one bad meal is enough to ruin your whole trip, you probably need to re-examine your priorities.
Staying positive day in and day out is a tall order, especially for an easily-overwhelmed introvert. As strung out as I’ve been in my life at home lately, I even feel a bit hypocritical preaching such values.
But I know it’s non-negotiable — as essential to backpacking as the backpack itself.
If I had only one change of clothes, I could do laundry in the sink every night. If I left my toothbrush at a hostel, I could buy a new one in my next destination. If my laptop were stolen, I could stay connected at internet cafes.
But if I routinely failed to keep all those minutiae in perspective, that’s where I’d find real trouble.