Jason The Nomad Experiment
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Top Travel Tips: Go With Your Gut! Examples Of When To Listen To Your Intuition & Change Plans

Especially As A Beginner Traveler, Listening To Your Intuition And Going With Your Gut Can Be Tough

While I’m a huge proponent of a “just say yes” mentality, there are limits…and sometimes you have to just go with your gut! I want to play the devil’s advocate and discuss an equally important top travel tip about when listening to your intuition is paramount. For me, I call it my “introvert intuition” as I tend to get even more introspective during these decisions…which isn’t necessarily a good thing! (If you’re a regular, you’re all like “wait…he can get more introspective!?)  

Sometimes your best course of action just throw out logic, planning, and anything else seemingly calculated or rational, and just go with your gut. 

The hard part is discerning the conversations between your gut, your brain, and any sneaky pressure that might be influencing you from the outside world. 

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Listening To Your Intuition vs. Listening To The Chatter

Even when listening to your intuition seems to be the obvious course of action, other pressures can sway us. Just the idea of “well, I don’t want to be seen as a quitter” or “how will I explain this to people if I’m wrong” can be pressure enough for you to not go with your gut. Then we either follow the crowd or make a judgment call we might end up wanting to have done differently. 

Let me give you just two great examples from my travels where I’m really glad I listened to my gut. They’re also examples of where I struggled during my rationalizations. My introvert intuition was totally right, but as a beginner traveler…and beginner nomad…I really struggled. 

Just remember, especially when you’re battling the “what are others gonna think” gremlins, that your situation is unique and has circumstances that no other person in the world can duplicate. 

These go with your gut moments were from literally the first six months after I sold everything and went nomad. I was very much a beginner traveler. And I say that while feeling that I’ll still be a beginner traveler for a very long time!

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The Paris, France Transit Strike Of 2019

I was finishing two months of fast travel through Europe leading into December. One of my most ambitious travels up to that point, I had spent two weeks each in Ireland and Hungary and about 3-6 days each in Slovakia, Austria, Prague, and Munich before I got to Paris. Honestly, by the time I got to Munich, let alone Paris, my brain and my body were exhausted from taking in so much new stuff combined with the speed of travel over the entire trip. 

The weeks before I arrived in Paris, I was keeping a close eye on the news since there was escalating talk of a complete transportation strike. These strikes happen in Paris a lot, but typically only one type of transportation is affected at a time. 

This strike had the potential to affect every type of public transportation, at the same time, should the government not appease the union by December 5th. 

Oh…and my flight back to the U.S. was scheduled for the 8th. 

To get to Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG) from most places in Paris requires a minimum of a connecting train, a ride on a packed double-decker train, and a possible train switch depending on which way the wind is blowing. An absolute bare minimum of an hour if things are going extremely smoothly. 

Paris Black And White Photo Abstract Train Station
Top Of A Train Station In Paris
Paris Black And White Photo Abstract Ceiling
Ceilings in Paris

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Since I arrived in Paris via train from Munich, I didn’t even have firsthand experience of the commute or the airport—France’s largest international airport and the second busiest airport in Europe. It seems I had very valid arguments for getting my ass out of Dodge…um…Paris before the 5th. 

During these times, stacked up against the reasons I’ll outline next, you would think going with intuition would be easy!?

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The Good “Go With Your Gut” Reasons I Should Have Chosen To Get Out Of Paris

This is just the short list of great reasons I should have had no problem listening to my introvert intuition. I could probably list a dozen more!

  • I was extremely new to the ebbs and flows of Paris commuting, especially while carrying luggage to or from the airport.
  • I didn’t have firsthand experience with CDG airport
  • While transit strikes were common in Paris, this one had the potential to be very different from recent strikes because of multiple areas of transit being affected.
  • My travel medical insurance would run out on the 10th, so if I didn’t get back to the states by then, any claims I might have for the entire trip would no longer be covered. (Always check the fine print, my friend!)
  • I was exhausted and burnt out already, so dealing with extreme travel transportation shenanigans would have likely sent me to a very dark place…

Even with this list of very valid reasons, which now seems like more than enough to decide to get a flight out early, I struggled to do so. My introvert intuition was spot on, but the other voices were undermining my actual ability to go with my gut.

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Sacré-Cœur, Paris photo with carousel
Sacré-Cœur in Paris – Follow on Instagram for more…

The Reasons I Didn’t Want To Listen To My Introvert Intuition

Again, this is just the short list of what ended up being pretty silly reasons to not go with my gut!

  • I had dreamt my entire adult life about getting to Paris, and if I left early I would only have 6 days there instead of 11. What if I never made it back to Paris?
  • I worried that, if the strike didn’t happen, I would have to explain my “silly” reason for leaving Paris early to family and friends.
  • I would have to pay a change fee to the airline to get an earlier flight and make the change on day one of my time in Paris to ensure I could get the cheapest flight/fees.

In the end, I decided to pay the fee, which ended up being $125USD, and get a flight out on the 3rd. 

The strike ended up being the biggest transportation strike in Paris in over 12 years. The city’s transportation network was crippled for almost 60 days! 

Because I wasn’t the only one that listened to their gut, my commute to the airport on the 3rd took nearly two hours. Luckily I was smart enough to anticipate this and factor even more time into my plans. (Remember, time is one of your best friends!)

I was beyond happy with my choice to listen to my introvert intuition while watching the news of the strike break…while comfortably back in the states on the 8th.

And since I’m fully nomadic, I’m fairly confident I can make it back to Paris for a longer, slower trip…and hopefully with no strike next time! Well…there are tons of strikes in Paris, so that’s unlikely. But at least maybe the ones I’ll experience won’t be as drastic as this one was!

The Covid-19 Pandemic And Leaving Mexico Early in 2020

Barely six months after I had finally sold my house, I was hunkered down in Querétaro, Mexico for a couple of months soaking up my new, bonafide “digital nomad” life. I was working, writing, and editing video 40+ hours a week while staying in an amazing $12/night Airbnb near the centro (center) of the city. I was experiencing a life I had only dreamt about for oh, say 15 years, all on less than $30 a day! 

Then there was all this news about a new virus quickly spreading across the world, complete with airline and transportation shutdowns happening across Asia and Europe.

Stronger and stronger conversations about actions the U.S. might soon take were coming from President Trump.

My flight back to the states was scheduled for March 21st and things were escalating. I had conversations with a lot of people. But given that nobody alive had seen anything like Covid-19, those conversations were merely opinions and conjecture. There were a lot of things impacting my decision-making.

I actually had people around me telling me to just “go with your gut,” but I wasn’t even able to take that good advice without some serious inner turmoil!

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The Good “Introvert Intuition” Reasons I Should Have Chosen To Change To An Earlier Flight

  • My travel medical insurance would run out around the 23rd, which meant if I wasn’t back in the states by then, any claims originating during my entire trip would be void.
  • Mexico wasn’t reporting figures as diligently as most other countries were, so it was unclear exactly how much Covid-19 had spread through Mexico at the time.
  • Official news confirmed the first Covid-19 case in Querétaro on March 12th.
  • I was traveling solo, so getting sick in general is a bit more difficult than when traveling with a companion. I had proven this theory the week prior while visiting Guanajuato and suffering through a case of Montezuma’s revenge. Spending a day curled up on the bathroom floor of my apartment, waiting for my kind Spanish-speaking Airbnb host’s father to bring me tea, stomach meds, and soft fruits. No bueno my friend. No bueno. (This was before I got diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes later in the year.) 
  • President Trump had made his disdain for Mexico very clear up to that point of his presidency. There was no telling what kind of restrictions he might put in place regarding travel back and forth or how quickly they might go into effect.

Silly Reasons I Almost Didn’t Choose The “Go With Your Gut” Option 

  • Once again, the “how do I explain this to others” conversation came up. 
  • I was comparing myself up against much more experienced travelers that had potentially dealt with much crazier things in their travel careers and was telling myself I shouldn’t be worrying so much.
  • What could just a few more days staying put hurt? 
  • I might have to pay a change fee to the airline to get an earlier flight. (It was unclear because airlines were all in a tizzy at the time.)
  • I might lose out on some Airbnb fees that I had already paid.

Travel Restrictions…Engaged

While I was still battling my introvert intuition to go with my gut, between March 12-13 the President announced travel restrictions with Europe and that more restrictions were to come. I knew that Mexico restrictions weren’t far behind. I finally decided to call the airline and get an earlier flight. They waived all change fees, and I was on a flight home the next day. 

My Airbnb hosts, with whom I had spent nearly two months becoming friends, kindly refunded the days I wouldn’t use. 

The only bummer was that airports in the U.S. hadn’t yet put into place protocols to deal with the influx of U.S. citizens rushing back to get inside the borders from all across the world. I ended up corralled for hours in extremely close quarters with literally thousands of others traveling through Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (DFW). 

I then self-quarantined for 14 days once I got back. In hindsight, this was a minor inconvenience given the way the pandemic ended up playing out over the next couple years. 

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I was overthinking what should have been very simple and valid decisions for me to go with my gut. Remember those blips on the timeline? I was hemming and hawing over extremely tiny pieces of my life—usually only a few days—for what could have ended up being huge inconveniences had I chosen to ignore my introvert intuition! 

When the time comes that you’re faced with these types of decisions, be confident your intuition is right and that going with your gut will lead you in the right direction. Make the choice and stop second-guessing.

If things turn out opposite and there’s a feeling of regret later, just remind yourself that you did the best you could with the information you had at hand. 

Don’t forget: You’re not a damn psychic!

The Takeaways

In the end, the only justification you need after you make a decision to go with your gut, or your intuition, or whatever you call it…is your own. There will always be voices in your head and chatter from the outside. “What-if’s” that you’ll have to live with, regardless of whether you’re a beginner traveler or a little more seasoned. The key is just to make your decision, then make another decision not to second guess it.

Make your choice, engage your backup plans…and move on my friend!

Have a time when you chose to go with your gut and it turned out to be a great decision? What about the opposite? Please let me…and others…know in the comments! Cheers!

(Oh…And don’t forget to share this with someone that might need to read it!)

-Jason

Travel Planning Tips

Figure out where you are going & how are you getting there…
I suggest using at least 2 to 3 different travel search sites. Start with Skyscanner or Orbitz or Booking …or whatever aggregator site you prefer. Then when you see what airlines to use, check their respective sites for better deals or rewards flights.

Figure out where you’re going to stay…
If you’re interested in hostels, search Hostelworld or Hostelling International. For longer-term or more private digs, look at Airbnb, VRBO, or you can look for hotel rooms in the links from the search engines listed above. 

Get comprehensive travel insurance, or in the least, travel medical insurance if internationally…
Especially with Covid not going anywhere, get covered. Start an insurance aggregator like Insure My Trip, or with SafetyWing, World Nomads, Travel Guard, or TravelEx. Then decide what is important to you; trip cancellation, baggage coverage, medical, or all of the above. 

Need more resources? Click here!

The beginner traveler's guide to going nomad book by Jason A. Robinson

Tough Love, Tips & Strategies To Help You Finally Kick-Start Your Travel Life…Or Go Full Nomad!

Been wondering how the hell all those digital nomads, location independent travelers, and remote workers, travel “full-time?” Maybe you’ve thought about living that life one day, but you’re really not sure where to start.

Beyond giving you the stepping stones to dive into short-term domestic and international travel, this book will show you how long-term travelers extend those tools, maximize their budgets, and turn weeks into months…or even years…of traveling the world indefinitely.

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