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Travel far, wide, and often. It's the best and cheapest education you'll ever get.
Dad, said often in contemplation and lecture
Dad was right. Travel is the best education you'll get for the least amount of money.
When I obtained my passport, I was the first one in my immediate family to do so. I was terrified to step on a plane alone to travel internationally. Jan Haag's essay, Terror, was the best thing I read before my trip—despite its title! She wrote something about women that I often think of when traveling:
For traveling alone, though it is the only way to go, is not something anyone, especially women, do easily. No matter how much you believe in it, no matter how much experience you have had already doing it, it isn't easy to take that first step of the thousand miles -- all by yourself. We've been trained otherwise.Yeah, what she says.
The American media, as well as your best friend, warns you against taking a walk around your local woods alone, let alone a stroll around the world. So, you're fighting not only your own anxiety, but the anxiety induced stress of our stay-at-home-lock-your-doors-and-forget-your-dreams society, our if-you-must-travel-travel-with-the-herd culture. The pull, therefore, of Azerbaijan, of Borobudur, Samarkand, Tadzhikistan, Tierra del Fuego, even of Cologne has to be pretty strong to last through the inevitable willies.
I used to be the princess of dragging too much junk around until I found Doug Dyment's One Bag: The Art and Science of Travelling Light. Dyment's got one carry-on bag travel down to an art, indeed, and his comprehensive packing list is spot on for most travel.
Sleeping in Airports
Yep, I've done it. I did it in Stockholm's Arlanda airport, and I would do it again. For all the dirt on sleeping in airports, this is the place to check out.
ITA travel features a powerful airfare search engine. You can look for specific dates plus/minus 1 day, weekend dates, or look for tickets within a monthlong range. It's most useful feature, however, is that it lists the total cost of airfare, including all taxes, fees, country levies, etc. And it breaks down the total airfare for you. Furthermore, whenever ITA has said a fare was available, I was able to purchase it—none of this "fare blackout dates" thing that you see on other websites.