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Travel Lessons Learned and What I'm Doing Differently

Updated: May 23, 2022

The countdown to Greece is on! Seven days and 1 hour until blast-off. Meanwhile, there's a lot to do to get ready. As I prepare, I'm making sure to apply all the travel lessons I learned from last summer's digital nomad journey to Bonaire.

Here are a few lessons I've learned and what I'm doing differently this time.

1. Plan less. Stay in the flow more. When I launched my digital nomad journey to Bonaire, I planned to stay for four months. The island of Bonaire is drop dead gorgeous. I met super friendly people and went on boat cruises, snorkeled every day, and had a fabulous time. But after two months, I was ready to go. That's when I realized that the whole idea of sticking it out because that's what I'd planned wasn't a thing.

What I'm doing differently: I've made plans to attend a writing retreat and residency in Lesvos, Greece.

Then I'll meet up with a longtime friend (who's basically walking entertainment - seriously, when we're together, we call ourselves "The Boo and Shorty Show," so get ready for some ridiculous stories!) and we'll go to Santorini and Mykonos.

After Shorty returns to the states (and I feel the need to sleep for 18 days), I've booked a reservation at a lovely hotel near a castle in Molyvos, which is on the other side of Lesvos (from where the retreat is taking place). It's got a gorgeous infinity pool that looks out over the sea and it's a half mile walk from a beautiful village.

Americans, get ready for reverse sticker shock, it costs a little less than $100 a night.

I know. I know. Now that I've given you serious FOMO, I'll get to the important part—the reservation does not have to be paid up front and I can cancel it any time before June 19. By making loose, refundable, easy to change plans, I allow myself space to decide whether or not something is working for me. If I feel like after the retreat and Shorty's visit, I want to move on to another country or head back to the states, I can. Or if I meet a Greek God and fall madly in love and decide to sail around the world with him, I won't be stuck with a nonrefundable hotel reservation.

2. If it doesn't fit in a carry-on, it's not coming. When I went to Bonaire, I packed a BIG suitcase and if you've been following my journey, you know my suitcase got lost and I arrived in Bonaire with not so much as a toothbrush. Thankfully, I was rescued by an incredibly kind friend of a friend (who became an actual friend), Jean, who gave me clothes, a toothbrush, and took me shopping.

What I'm doing differently: This time, I'm bringing a carry-on bag, my ampcoil, and my laptop. That's it.

3. Less is enough. Seriously. Thankfully, my giant suitcase arrived in Bonaire five days after I did. (Enjoy the picture below of me hugging it.) After about a week, I realized I didn't need half of what was in it. In fact, I never even unpacked half of it. After all, it's an adventure not a fashion show.

What I'm doing differently: My carry-on contains a few skirts, dresses, one pair of shorts, two bathing suits, walking shoes, a cover up, underwear, and a hat. That's it. (Yes, it's already packed. Surprises are bad. Planning is good!)

I always use hypoallergenic laundry detergent sheets, which might be the greatest invention ever since they're not only safer for you, they also save our oceans from more giant plastic laundry detergent jugs being tossed in them. So I've packed a bunch of them so I can wash my clothes as I go.

4. Bring books. Didn't I just say less is enough? Uh huh. Well, that does not apply to books! I'm old school. I do not like reading on screens. I want to turn pages. In Bonaire, I learned that not every island has a bookstore. Thankfully, my Bonaire friend, Jean, directed me to a cool thrift market that sold books in English.

What I'm doing differently: Because I never want to feel stranded on island without books, I'm sliding a couple paperbacks (and a couple copies of my own books, FINGERPRINTS and CHOOSNG TALLY to leave in little libraries) in my carry on.

5. Slow down. I got the message to slow down when preparing for Bonaire and a few weeks ago, I got the same message to slow down when I injured my foot. Thankfully, my foot is healing slowly but surely, but it's definitely inspiring me to allow myself way more time for travel and to just chill if I encounter delays.

What I'm doing differently: I've broken up my trip so that I'll fly to the east coast, stay in a hotel that night and get some good sleep before flying to Athens the next day. I also booked a hotel in Lesvos for two nights before my retreat starts so I can shake off some jetlag and ground. (I'm so thankful I'll have my ampcoil. It's fantastic for clearing jetlag!)

I'm also planning on relaxing and focusing on writing. When I'm working on a book and channeling my characters' emotions, actions, and reactions, I feel great. I am so looking forward to slowing down my actual life so I can immerse myself in theirs.

What lessons have you learned when it comes to travel? And what did you differently after learning them?


I love these suggestions for paring down to a carry-on. I’m going to repack using your travel “wardrobe“ as a guide.

Suzanne Casamento
Suzanne Casamento
May 23, 2022
Replying to

Fabulous! We'll probably end up wearing the same few things over and over anyway. And losing a suitcase in a foreign country is NOT fun!

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