6 Principles For Life and Travel

If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.”

Anthony Bourdain

If you love traveling and your enthusiasm for foreign cultures prompts you to buy a one-way ticket, chances are you follow a certain set of unspoken rules that I call,

The Avid Traveler’s Code of Conduct.

Besides governmental laws that citizens and tourists alike must follow, there isn’t a guide to how one should conduct themselves in a foreign place.

During my South American trip to Colombia I met this well-spoken hostel owner who told me that people who travel without a code of some sort tend to act like the stereotypical American tourist who, oblivious to their selfish behaviour, imposes their arrogance, ignorance and travel-magazine mentality upon the world.

None of us want to be that tourist.

Think of the following six rules I list in this article as a guide to cultural immersion.

Most of you reading this most likely already follow these rules intuitively and for those of you who don’t, I encourage you to adapt these principles before deciding to travel!

Without further ado, here are my six rules to the avid traveler’s code of conduct.

Treat others how you want to be treated

  1. Showing respect goes without saying. When you show up at someones home or, more broadly, a foreign place, your first responsibility is to be respectful.

    Right back to the basics of social interaction: Always say please and thank you.

    This also means following the established rules, guidelines, and cultural norms. As long as your heart is in the right place giving respect is second nature.

    We first saw this rule posted in big, vibrant colors on our elementary school’s classroom wall. It applies everywhere in life and especially as you travel to unknown places as a visitor.

    Be considerate. Don’t touch what’s not yours. Use your manners. Ask if you’re not certain.

    Simple enough, right?

Observe, Listen, Adapt

2. The second code of conduct for an avid traveler is to adapt to your host’s lifestyle and traditions.

This doesn’t mean to blindly follow, but instead to respect and understand a different and possibly new point of view.

This could mean waking up at the general time of whats expected, eating meals at a certain time or in a particular fashion, and following the “flow” of the household schedule.

Maybe your host practices prayer before and after a meal. Even if you aren’t religious it’s your responsibility as a guest to take part. To certain people, it would be considered highly disrespectful for someone to not follow tradition, especially in a foreign culture.

Observe how people go about their routines, practices, and traditions. Listen to what locals tell you about their beliefs and customs. And adapt to the new information you gain to make your travel experience richer and smoother.

Usually adapting simply means leaving behind your preconceived notions, which brings us to code number three:

Leave behind pre-conceived ideas about the world

3. Pre- conceived ideas and beliefs can be detrimental to your travel experience. They limit the depth of exploration.

If you go somewhere stubbornly set in your ways the chances are your trip will be limited to what you already know and are comfortable with; In that case, you should’ve stayed home in the first place.

Traveling requires an open mind. Only then can you thoroughly explore your surroundings.

Admittedly, most people who decide to travel are pre-supposed to alternative ways of being. In the light of new information open and receptive people often identify their own pre-conceived notions they weren’t aware of.

To expose and then correct a biased idea/belief is one of the many great virtues of traveling. Mark Twain is famously noted for writing,

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Be genuinely curious

4. Tagging along with code number three, an avid traveler must be genuinely curious to learn and understand.

Curiosity can take the shape of many forms and traveling is one of the best ways to express your thirst for knowledge. Perhaps you love history. What better opportunity is there to learn than being in the place of your interest? Maybe it’s your passion for food that drives you to a specific place, or something more nuanced like traditional culinary techniques.

Whatever your curiosity aims at, it is your obligation to seek out new information that broadens and deepens your overall understanding.

Additionally, as a guest in someone’s home it’s wise to get to know your host. Build a relationship with them by sitting down and engaging in conversation. You’ll find that your host will not only be a valuable resource of information, but also act as a compass directing you on your travels.

Too many people either forget or neglect to interact with the people assisting them on their trip. Remember everyone knows something you don’t so be genuinely curious to learn what they’re willing and able to teach you.

Lend a helping hand

5. A helping hand goes a long way which is why it’s absolutely vital to contribute either by helping with housework, cleaning, cooking, running errands or simply telling your stories.

However you choose to contribute, make sure you offer assistance for anything they may need.

Even if they don’t want or need your help, a gesture alone demonstrates your willingness, open personality and it’s even a good sign of your strong work ethic. People will always be willing or more reciprocative to you when you give respect, effort and an extended hand.

Speak the language

6. Our sixth and final code of conduct for the avid traveler is: Speak the language.

For travelers visiting another country, yes, you should learn the very basics of the culture’s language. At minimum learn the words for, “please,” “thank you,” and for your sake, “where is the bathroom?”

In my experience, giving a genuine effort when speaking a foreign language always wins respect from locals. You’re going to make a bunch of mistakes. But you need to try. When people see that you’re going out of your way to learn their language, despite how silly you may sound, they’ll not only teach you, but they’ll encourage you to keep learning.

For travelers visiting a place that shares a common language, this code still applies.

Language isn’t merely the words we use to represent things and actions. It’s also how we communicate using tone, body language, and social cues.

Speak the language means being agreeable or having the social awareness of someone’s possible intentions.You’re likely to come across a wide variety of personalities on your travels and it’s useful to know how to interact with people independent of where they land on that social spectrum.

It applies to bargaining prices, dealing with hustlers, meeting new people, creating opportunities, and making the best of your days with the people you’re with. This rule, which is partly a learned skill, decides whether or not your experiences are positive, immersive and novel.


So, there you have it.

  1. Treat others how you want to be treated
  2. Observe, listen, adapt
  3. Leave behind pre-conceived notions about the world
  4. Be genuinely curious
  5. Lend a helping hand
  6. Speak the language

What can we add to this list? I’m interested in hearing what you guys would add.

  • Leave your suggestions in the comments
  • Give this post a like, and
  • Make sure to share with your friends!

Check these out!

Horta Marina Photo Collection

If you’re going to Horta it’s well worth strolling through the marina. A simple walk will open your eyes to the history and cultural significance of Europe’s westernmost city.

For decades sailors have painted their murals around the marina.

According to old-sailor superstition, painting your mural or logo on the breakwater gives divine protection from harsh conditions at sea!

I took my time as I walked down the marina – a slow pace – admiring the array of creativity each mural displayed. There were a few murals I stopped to look at longer than others. Either I’d been to where they were from, or I had some sort of artistic connection to the symbols and colors they used.

What interested me most was how all the murals weren’t in any chronological or divided-by-country order. Fresh murals from 2019 were right next to the faded outlines from decades ago, and all the countries shared one surface. They all complimented one another by their mutual love of the sea. The ocean is what brought all these nations together to this one port in Horta, Faial.

L’oiseau de passage- The bird of passage
Kairos- An Ancient Greek word meaning the right, critical or opportune moment.
Alma de sal- Soul of salt
Helios- Ancient Greek god and personification of the Sun
The Ocean State
Montanha do Pico<3
If you speak French, I’d love for you to translate this message for me. Google translate doesn’t cut it. Please and thank you!
Remembering my Colombia summer 2018

Check out my Horta photo collection here

Thoughts on Visiting the Azores

Imagine you’re sitting on a stone wall at the edge of a cliff letting your feet dangle below. Accompanying you are your closest friends and loved ones sharing the spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean. The waves roll onto the obsidian shoreline in the distance and you’re all there with a cup of freshly brewed coffee to warm your hands. It’s sunrise. And right behind the mountainous landscape the sun rises into the opulent sky.

When you come to the Azores for the first time it isn’t difficult to see why these nine islands have risen to the top in tourism destinations. People all over the world come here to experience the sensation of adventure- outdoor, rural tourism activities surrounded by vast green landscapes and the constant meditative sound of the ocean. From June to the last few weeks of September the small aldeias of the Azores are swarmed with curious travelers.

This past summer I spent the majority of my time working at a local restaurant serving tables. Besides the locals, the majority of customers were from European countries (mostly France, Germany, and Spain) on vacation visiting as many islands as they could within a week’s or two time.

I wonder how many tourists passed by, came and went, as I stood in the entry way of the restaurant. Hundreds, thousands?

I wonder more so what all those people made of this place. Was it everything they expected after doing their proper research, scrolling through instagram, watching YouTube videos, reading blog articles? What did they feel on the ride from the airport to their hotel? Did they feel what I felt the first time?

Towards the end of August, after Semana Dos Baleeiros ended there was a noticeable difference in the number of tourists. Everyone seemed to pack up and leave as soon as the festivals were over. The town grew quiet through the month of September and on my daily walks back home from work I didn’t see any intrigued tourists taking photographs of the ivory-covered, abandoned building or the palm trees infront of Lajes’s church.

Instead I noticed the orange hues in the trees and how the wind carried all the fallen, dried leaves into the road’s corners.

The tables outside the popular bakery “Sabores e Aromas” remained vacant of pastry- munching, cappuccino sipping Europeans.

The only people who roamed the streets were the locals on their daily rounds.

Two years ago was my first time visiting the Azores during the summer. I spent the months of July and August experiencing the Azores as a tourist. I went swimming most days, I went sight-seeing, I ate at the best restaurants, took the ferry to other islands and finally climbed and summited Mount Pico.

I felt like an explorer charting new territory, discovering the unknown.

For my last two weeks I backpacked around São Miguel Island and visited all the top attractions: Ponta Delgada, Sete Cidades, Vista do Rei, Furnas, Lagoa do Fogo, Vila Franca do Campo ect. That trip gave me a strong sense of what Azores tourism is all about and I understand clearly why every year the visitation numbers steadily increase.

When I arrived on Pico Island this past June I experienced the Azores more as a resident than a tourist. I served tourists and locals alike. I gave people recommendations and directions. There were times where I wanted to be in their position, navigating around the island for the first time astonished with the surrounding countryside.

I envied their wanderlust. As beautiful as this place is, I became adjusted to it.

Now that it’s late October and winter is approaching the dust has settled, so to speak. Theres less people, less movement, less happening and this grants a certain flow to time that feels slower, steadier. The days get darker earlier and the sun doesn’t shine as bright. The ocean water is colder and less appealing without the aqua-blue surface dazzling under the summer light.

Yet with with that, I’m discovering my appreciation for this island again. The empty streets call attention to space and time. I look around at the old, stone buildings lined along the sloping roads, I hear the cagarros in flight, I smell fresh bread wafting through the air, I feel present and hungry, I taste the salt of the Atlantic Ocean on my lips. Is this what it means to be Azorean?

Living in the Azores is much different than visiting and I guess you could say that about any place, however here, in the middle of the Atlantic, theres a certain novelty I can’t quite put into words. At any moment during the day whether I’m working, driving, having a conversation I can stop what I’m doing and tune into the ocean. There it is if you pay attention, that meditative sound which pervades everything here.

Although autumn and winter aren’t necessarily the prime time to visit the Azores, I think they’re actually the best representation. Sure the festivals are over, tourism is at it’s lowest and it’s too cold to swim everyday, but this allows one to wander at their own accord and to observe the local life-style and culture without it being inflated by tourism companies.

Street Photography In The Heart of Bogota

Bogota was one of the three major cities I visited in Colombia this past summer.

When I was there I didn’t have a precise objective. Everyday I ended up walking around the center of Bogota taking photos of the architecture, the graffiti and the liveliness of the streets. Of course there were certain things I wanted to see as a tourist like the world famous Gold Museum and the spectacular view atop mount Monserreti, but they weren’t my main focus. Aside from the tourist attractions, I really just enjoyed wandering around. 

Bogota was cold when I arrived mid August. Unexpectedly cold. Coming from the summer heat of Cartagena and the refreshing mountain air of Medellin it really threw me off when I got to the high-altitude capital of Bogota. I must say however, the people I became friends with in Bogota were warm and welcoming. That made all the difference.

Continue reading “Street Photography In The Heart of Bogota”

El Peñol: The Astonishing 360 View of Guatape, Colombia and How To Get There

How to get there?

The chances are you’re in Medellin.  

  1. Take the metro or taxi to Caribe Station. From there go to the North Bus terminal (Terminal de Transportes Norte).
  2. Buy a ticket to either Guatape or El Peñol at the ticket booths. There’s one or two bus companies that go there. It should cost between $12,000 – $14,000 COP each way or around $4 USD. Total: $25,000 COP = $8.00 USD.  
  3. The bus will stop for passengers along the way, expect between 1 ½ to 2 hour drive. 
  4. You can either get off at the base of El Peñol or you can go to Guatape if you plan on exploring the town.

Continue reading “El Peñol: The Astonishing 360 View of Guatape, Colombia and How To Get There”