One of the many benefits of working for hospitals in the Arabian Peninsula is that they offer lots of vacation time — the average is about five calendar weeks per year, often more. And living in the Arabian Peninsula means you're that much closer to Asia, Southeast Asia, India, Africa, Russia, and Europe than you are back home in the USA or Canada. Which means that you have no excuse not to take that trip you've always dreamed of.
Working for Helen Ziegler & Associates, Inc. (HZA), and learning about the region — and getting to visit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates infected me with a wanderlust that I have yet to completely satisfy. I have tried though. In the years since joining HZA, I have spent almost four years living and traveling outside of Canada. I spent one year traveling and working in Thailand, six months traveling and working in Egypt, and six months working in the Caribbean. I've done shorter trips to Honduras, Cuba, and India. And last year, my husband (a Dane I met while traveling in Thailand) and I spent an entire year traveling throughout Southeast Asia (including East Timor, Myanmar, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Vietnam) and Nepal. (We also traveled to Australia and New Zealand, but that was for a wedding.)
As you can probably tell, we prefer countries that are a bit "off-the-beaten-track." Why? I'm not really sure. Maybe it's because everything — the people, the food, the culture, daily life — is so different from home. Maybe it's because they're generally inexpensive to travel in, and I'm so cheap. Or maybe it's just because I have a masochistic liking for ridiculously long, bumpy, dusty bus rides.
One thing I do know is that the person I was when I started traveling is very different from the person I am today. Although I can't tell you how travel will change you, I can tell you what to pack and a few other things that you might find helpful.
Pack less than you think you will need … and leave the jeans at home.
If you don't like wearing it now, you won't like wearing it every day on the road.
But pack as much underwear as you can carry!
Try to retain some perspective.
Patience isn't a virtue … it's a survival tool.
Throw away your guidebook … or, at least, leave it behind occasionally.
Take all tips from other travelers with a grain of salt.
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