Learning from a Shitty Experience

July 9, 2013 - Get free updates of new posts here
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Going to do this post via handwriting. #different (I didn’t have a computer available) #SadPanda :(

Images are below or click here to read the typed up version.

Learning from a Shitty Experience Noah Kagan 1 of 7Learning from a Shitty Experience Noah Kagan 2 of 7 Learning from a Shitty Experience Noah Kagan 3 of 7 Learning from a Shitty Experience Noah Kagan 4 of 7 Learning from a Shitty Experience Noah Kagan 5 of 7 Learning from a Shitty Experience Noah Kagan 6 of 7 Learning from a Shitty Experience Noah Kagan 7 of 7

(Leave a comment about your worst travel experience. I’ll be giving out 10 Moleskin Notebooks.)

[Start here for the typed version]

Anywho, if you’ve eaten with me you know that I can be quite annoying. I am picky and I ask for substitutions with 90% of what I order. I look at it as I’m getting what I really want.

How did this begin?

2 years ago I was eating salad and I mumbled about dressing on the side. These guys actually “car-washed” my salad with dressing. I was angry with every bite.

HATRED.

From that shitty experience I learned I should always say something if I’m not happy with my meal. Lesson learned.

Recently, I got invited to speak at a conference in Moscow, Russia.

Promises of Vodka showers, amazing food, Russian women and all-expenses paid.

BOOMTOWN. It’s good to be Noah.

So when I didn’t get a schedule, tickets or hear anything until a week before we were supposed to leave, I became a bit skeptical.

Lesson learned: TRUST YOUR FUCKING GUT

Sometimes your body feels weird or you just have a hunch. Don’t push that down. This is different than fear. This is when the situation seems like a bad thing.

So fast forward to my trip to Russia.

  • 1- Ended up MCing the conference, surprise.
  • 2- Got a house with no Wifi (as promised) located in the middle of nowhere.
  • 3- A day mentoring startups (didn’t know I was doing this)
  • 4- Hey let’s go to dinner, 4 hours later we arrive. Change of plans.
  • 5- Let’s go have drinks, surprise presentation to a company.

Lesson: There is NO fucking free lunch. Ever.

Okay, so I kinda sound like a whiny bitch, but there’s another lesson learned.

I had a good time and got to hang with some amazing people (including some millionaires).

Personally, I like things planned. This [trip] wasn’t at all.

You can choose to fight and be unhappy OR you can accept and learn for future experiences.
Your emotions and experience are up to you.

Love,
Noah Kagan
Written in Moscow 6/22/13

P.S. Leave a comment about your favorite place you have visited/traveled to… I’ll be giving out 10 Moleskin Notebooks.

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112 responses to “Learning from a Shitty Experience

  1. lawlow Reply

    You need to work on your handwriting! :P

    Never had a bad travel experience, besides losing my phone in Hong Kong!! :@

    1. Noah Kagan Reply

      Law sux2suck about your phone BUT you won a moleskine. Hit me up with your address.

      For everyone else who’s subscribed to comments. Sorry for all the emails but that’s how you’ll figure out if you win :)

  2. Bob Stern Reply

    Flying through Hell
    I was flying from Dallas to Reno to get to my home on Lake Tahoe. I ended up sitting in first class next to a well dressed woman I had seen on a prior flight we said hi as we buckled in to the last row and got ready to take off. Little did we know our flight would be so exceptional. Thirty minutes out of Dallas I looked at her and she looked at me. We both thought that our seat mate had had a major bowl malfunction. The smell was incredible and close. In a few minutes the woman whom I will call Ann finally asked the question ” did you just S**t your pants”? I assured her that I had not but she might want to check her own linens.
    Realizing we were both pretty solid in our convictions I unbuckled my seatbelt and looked over the seat in front off me. The passenger in the aisle seat who was clearly getting the worst of it was absolutely white faced as his seat mate held a 20 pound dog at arms length who was defecating all over his master. The dog owner apologized profusely and asked to be let out to the aisle. Running up the aisle holding the dog in front of him he almost knocked over the flight attendant on the way to the bathroom. Apparently the resident of 5b had smuggled the dog on board in a tranquilized state and the drugs did not work nor did they agree with the poor canine.
    This happened once more an hour later causing the bathroom to be permanent turned into a locked canine shrine.

    It gets better though the smell was so bad that a child about eight rows back ended up filling a flight sickness bag and that seemed to cause a chain reaction of involuntary airsickness for about 4 more of our lost souls.

    Needless to say I have had better flights. When the door opened there was a round of applause followed by hisses as the dog owner left the flight. The poor guy did not have the heart to put the dog in a crate because he was just over the weight limit and would have flown in the hold according to his seat mate. Meanwhile needless to say its a flight I still remember vividly.
    B

  3. Matt Henn Reply

    Love the “car washed” salad. HAHA!

    I went to Costa Rica this last winter. First time out of North America (I’d call it Central America). Hands down coolest experience of my life. I had no idea a lifestyle could be so different. Contrary to the states where it seems life is built around money and power of sorts, these people are completely happy with their “Pura Vida” life manning their little shops, having their afternoon siestas, and visiting with neighbors and friends in the afternoon. When they honk their horns, its only to say “Hey everyone I’m a happy crazy driver”… and they are all crazy drivers.

    In any case the trip was an eye opener. Made me appreciate life in a different way. Can’t wait to go back this December! Yeww

  4. Erin Reply

    Oh man…so sorry you had to deal with that. But, yeah, whenever I don’t listen to my gut, things turn out pretty bad. Thanks for the reminder.

    New Zealand. Favorite place I’ve traveled to. Why? It’s insanely beautiful and undeveloped- think gorgeous mountains aside crystal blue lakes with NO houses or roads nearby. Also, traveled with 30 other 20-somethings from all over the world. It was magic – great company and great scenery.

  5. Celine Reply

    Thailand. Believe it or not, the language barrier was fun. It’s easy to order food, but when I wanted DVDs of specific Thai films, I had to act them out to communicate the title/plot.

    I got the DVDs but it was the most complicated/hilarious game of charades I’ve ever played in my life.

  6. Jason Z Reply

    Wow, nothing like being caught off guard with surprise presentations.

    My favorite place I’ve traveled so far is Florence, Italy. I love the food, the architecture, the art, the history. I just need to brush up on my Italian for when I go back.

  7. Ryan Reply

    I am glad I could read your handwriting, I agree with your attitude, accept things as they are and learn, and trusting your gut is key–especially when it’s filled with great tacos ;)

    That sounds like many experiences I’ve had in South Korea– I actually talked to you briefly before and you told my you worked in Jeju– did you have any experiences comparable to your Russian experience or is Jeju more laid back/organized than the mainland?

    Best place I’ve been: Japamala resort on Tioman Island in Malaysia. Why? Look it up :) Seriously though, beautiful place, great service, and not that expensive in the offseason. If you’re ever in Malaysia, check it out!

  8. Lexy Congdon Reply

    I grew up in the boonies of Connecticut…it was a beautiful, wealthy town that our family was born into. Friends and classmates traveled all over, all the time. My sister 4 years older, traveled as soon as she got to college…..Every time something amazing was offered to me, my mom shot it down (I was under 18). So, I was determined to make it to Europe while in College….it never happened. When that wasn’t happening, I was determined to go somewhere for spring break, like everyone else….that didn’t happen (I usually worked a 60 hour week, to help pay my tuition) So, I started my own seasonal business and decided that I’m in full control of my life at this point…I payed all my bills off 2 months in advance and saved what I could after that. In November/December 2012, I traveled to Barcelona and drove up to Paris. It was a fairly direct route. We didn’t have all that much money for gas.
    It was everything I imagined and then some! We had as many conversations with strangers as possible, we ate great food, shopped at specialty shops to make our own meals, and we slept in a Toyota Yaris, for 7 nights out of the 3 weeks we were there. (did you notice the time of year we went!)
    We did what we had to to make this experience happen….people said that I needed to get the travel bug out of my system, then focus on my business….the bug got worse. Now, I just need to figure out a job/business that I can afford to travel with.
    I know that this is a pretty simple, cliche place to travel, but I needed to see Europe, even just part of it. Now, I need to visit everywhere else!!

  9. Nico Roddz Reply

    Sorry for you too Noah…

    The best place I visited was Austin, during 2012.

    An amazing learning experience, girls, good people, a lot of fun and tech guys.

    Cheers,

    Nico

    ps: I met you on lean startup machine Austin

  10. Tom Reply

    My trip to Istanbul last summer may have been the most fun I ever had. I was I supposed to be spending two weeks with a couple of friends. They totally bailed on me (family emergency apparently: weak excuse), but I went anyway. Ending up meeting some other tourists at the hostel and tagged along with them. Ended up seeing most of the big sights, getting to know some Turks and drinking way too much Raki in strange rooftop club/bar with a view of the whole city. Moral of the story: don’t sweat it if your well made plan falls apart. As long as you don’t let it stress you out you can have great time anyway.

  11. Alex Reply

    Cool Post. Favourite place I travelled to was a youth hostel on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere near Marseille, France.

    You shower in what looks like a cattle watering tank using a bucket. You also have to bring and cook your own food. But that’s where I met some of the most amazing people ever. In the evening you just sit on the Veranda, watch the blue ocean and the hills looking out the ocean and drink a couple glasses of wine. That’s when the wild pigs come out…

  12. Marie Reply

    It`s an important experience to don`t have all what wanted a short time, because it reminds you who you are really.

    My favourite place: a lonely lake in a big forest in Sweden – pure nature!

  13. Algis Reply

    I dug the notebook style post. Your trip to Moscow, definitely sounds like an adventure and a test of your patience.

    Tokyo is my favorite place to visit. It’s got something for everyone, unless you want surfing or tacos. Otherwise, the food is insane and there are so many funky little bars to check out as well. And if you’re into vinyl, go to Shimokitazawa and go crazy!

  14. Blake Reply

    My wife & I thought it would be fun to go to an “all inclusive” resort in Oaxaca for our much deferred honeymoon.

    Truth be told, the resort wasn’t that bad. However, I learned the hard way (and repeatedly) that “all inclusive” means “all you want of the cheapest shit we can assemble.” Drinks are free because they’re cheap, & they’re cheap because they’re half water. A swim up bar is an awesome concept as long as it’s backed by someone who knows how to mix a drink. &c.

    The worst part of the trip, though, was my fault. When we were having dinner the second or third night I quite accidentally knocked over a red wine glass, the contents of which made a beeline toward (and arrived at) the whitest part of my wife’s very white dress.

    The resort staff cleaned the dress for us, to a tee. I didn’t think that would be possible. How much? Included, of course.

    The lesson I learned from this is that while plentiful usually means cheap and and cheap often means bad, neither of these should be assumed.

  15. Christian Reply

    Wow. You know, of course, that it’s awesome to write – and publish – a blog post in a moleskin! No excuses. :-)

    Also, I like that you’re always asking for substitutions. Unless you’re on a special diet, that’s basically a way of saying that you don’t trust that the chef knows his job particularly well. Unfortunately, that’s very often the case. (Car-washed salads are a great example.) Lesson to be learned: It’s okay not to trust the so-calld experts blindly. ;-)

    Favorite place I’ve visited: New York would easily have won, but now that I live here, that won’t work. Paris is always awesome. It’s a cliché in most ways, but things become clichés because people keep coming back to them for good reason. And if I, in some weird, post-apocalyptic scenario, had to stay away from all the big cities, I wouldn’t mind spending a little more time in a beach hotel in Finale Ligure, Italy.

    I don’t know what the common denominator is, except I know how to find an excellent meal, a great cup of coffee with milk, and a great place to relax and watch people in all those places.

  16. Sal Coombes Reply

    Day trip to Block Island from Connecticut, celebrating last weekend of summer camp, drinking on the beach with a bunch of newly made friends from around the world. Still friends today, 6 years later.

  17. David Heasman Reply

    Favourite place I’ve visited?

    Costa Rica. Why?

    I went when I was 17 with 15 people from school. Got way out of our comfort zone, bonded together and got to know everyone. Almost like the Breakfast Club.

    Also the biodiversity is amazing (says someone who has no interest in biology/zoology), the rainforests are almost magical, and the cities and towns are idyllic and safe.

    The only event I wish I had a time machine for.

  18. Goran Reply

    Many of you finds Croatia interesting for visting but me as a person from Croatia, Adriatic cost is not only place where you can go and enjoy. So, this is the reason why I go to Šišinec – where time has stopped and there is no mobile signal :) Even the roads are not asphalted to there :)

    Dark nights without light pollution and no animals that can eat you :)

    g.

    p.s. Insert “Šišinec, Croatia” on google maps to see where it is :)

  19. Hope Reply

    Had a similar experience. Was invited to speak at a conference in St. Petersburg. Got to the airport and no one was there to pick me up. Had very little info and all I could say in Russian was nyet. Managed to get a taxi to a hotel, ate at a fast food restaurant that looked like a McD’s but clearly wasn’t cow. Blech! Finally connected with my guide, did a great talk (who knew people in Siberia would be familiar with my small company) and the rest of the trip was fabulous. Best was having a local guide take me through the Hermitage Museum. Rough start, great experience. Would do it again in a heartbeat.

  20. Graham Reply

    Nice post, Noah :) How can you get what you want if you don’t tell anyone what you want?!

    Anyway, best place ever was in South Africa near Nelspruit. Spent a week on the edges of Kruger National Park in an open camp (which means the nearest fence is about 500km away, and the nearest lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, hippos etc are less than 1km away …) Completely blew my mind that people live like that. When I’m tired of cities I dream of going back. When city life feels uncomfortable I think of how glad I am not to have a lion as a next door neighbour.

  21. Greg Watson Reply

    My favourite place to visit/travel to?

    Desolation Sound, B.C. Canada, in the summer time, by boat. It is not terribly exotic, but I love being on the water and in a remote location.

    The best times have been when I’ve brought the kayaks along, anchored in one of the protected bays and spent a week or two just poking around the area. It is easy enough to make a run by zodiac over to Refuge Cove for supplies and typically a fish boat will make its way through the anchorage, offer freshly caught fish or prawns if I haven’t been successful in catching my own that day.

    To my way of thinking there is nothing quite like sitting at anchor, a plate of prawns, sauteed in butter and garlic, a glass of wine before dinner, then barbecuing freshly caught salmon off the back of the boat, and later watching the sun go down from the cockpit, with a mug of hot chocolate, in a secluded anchorage.

    Heaven!!!!!

    I really like New Zealand too, but mostly because it reminds me of B.C. though in a smaller, more compact, package.

  22. Chad Ettelbrick Reply

    Great stuff.

    My favorite travel spot was Amsterdam. It was a perfect place for where I was at in my life and made a big impact. It was incredible to be somewhere unfamiliar and be young. I haven’t been back, but it is also the top of my list for where I need to go and soon because of the experience.

  23. J. Pham Reply

    My favorite place I have traveled so far is Machu Picchu in Peru. Friendly people, great food, and amazing scenery. The history of the country, particularly around the Inca Empire, is really fascinating. If you go, I highly suggest hiking/climbing up Huayna Picchu. Amazing experience.

  24. Jack Reply

    Definietly my favourite place I have travelled to is Tallin, Estonia. Beautiful old, medieval-looking town where time has stopped 500 years ago. Perfect for a 3-4 day trip where you can visit all unique cafes and restaurants. It gets even more memorable when you propose to your girlfriend and she says yes!

  25. Mackie Reply

    Every time I have gone against my gut instinct, I’ve been wrong. It’s amazing. The subconscious mind picks up on subtleties that we consciously don’t see.

    My favorite place to have traveled to is Hong Kong. Great people, great food, and I can speak English (most of the time).

  26. Gregg Hopfeldt Reply

    Chichen Itza in Mexico. They are Mayan ruins and it’s amazing to think they built these structures so long ago. It’s quite cool (really only figuratively because it felt like about 90% humidity and 40C/104F) to stand in the ruins and imagine a thriving community once lived there and picture people moving around. In fact I liked many towns and villages in Mexico because so many of them are really small and quiet, I’m not into big and touristy like Cancun.

    It’s also interesting, if not more than a little gruesome, to see the places in these ruins where they performed human sacrifices.

  27. Skye Reply

    Wow I can’t believe I spent 5mins reading your chicken scratch. That must prove your content right there =)

    Good story Noah. You can accept it for what it is and make the best of it or try to change it. Being negative and doing nothing helps no one, especially yourself.

    Buenos Aires (awesome city, very cultural, great people, great looking women, fun nightlife) and Patagonia (great fly fishing, tons of rivers, lakes, camping, amazing scenery) is definitely one of my favs.

  28. Sheilerama Reply

    I’m old, so you’ll just have to fake liking this comment, ok? I went to East Berlin, on a tour bus. I was visiting friends in Europe and pretending to be a certain kind of person throughout Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, a bit of France and Switzerland… One of my German friends got me to go with her on a one-day deal to the other side of the Berlin Wall (but they split her up with the West Germans on one bus, any other foreigner on my bus).

    Such a tour! Abandoned, bombed out buildings from WWII stood as though the war had ended, maybe 6 months before my getting there. East Berliners boasted about health care and 99% unemployment, and the overall awesomeness of everything being equal. But everything just looked tired, dour.

    There’s a fashion designer from an early season of Project Runway who was from East Germany, but fled to Miami as soon as she got a chance. She expressed herself through really wild and colorful prints, because everything growing up had been so depressing looking. Anyway, we stop at a bar toward the end of the tour to have an East German beer (which was tasty).

    Interesting thing: they made us buy postcards and stamps and then write something to friends/family to mail out from the bar. Good thing I actually had some francs on me. Off the top of my head I knew my parents’ address and my grandmother’s, so I sent them each a note: “Hi, I’m here behind the WALL, where I was kindly required to purchase postcards and postage. I am SO LUCKY that I didn’t have to worry about which postcard I wanted to buy. They took care of that for me!”

    My parents worried about me – this was before the internet and before cell phones. Communication was slow. But I told them later that I would be fine since it seemed that Germans didn’t understand sarcasm.

  29. Jason Reply

    I had this awesome time flying between Taipei and Beijing sitting next to Ai Weiwei’s art dealer. One of the most engaging conversational experiences I’ve had in a very long time.

  30. Bridgett Hart Reply

    I’ve had some pretty crazy trips and some less than savory stories..hehehe.. but my FAVORITE place to vacation to is a little place called PAAMUL in the yucatan peninsula (south of cancun, just a little north of belize).

    We have a couple palapas on the beach there…
    let me know when you and your booski want to come with! :-)
    No speaking engagements required…

  31. Adam Hart Reply

    I love the article you linked to about hanging out with millionaires. I learn something every time i read one of you articles.

    My favorite lesson:

    “Successful entrepreneurs don’t wait for someone else to solve their problem. They take action.”

    well said.

  32. David Reply

    Southeast Asia in general is absolutely remarkable. It’s like a different world. Completely different alphabet and dominant religion than what you will see in a lot of other places (read: Wester Europe and S. America). Plus it’s damn cheap! I gotta give Thailand the nod over Indo, if only for the food and ease of travel.

    But I do love the spanish language and latin culture. I just got back from Colombia and fell in love with the country and with about 1,263 women during my 6 week stay.

    Saludos!
    DB

  33. Cesar Reply

    I am a planner so I can totally relate.

    My worst travel experience happened when I was 18. I was in Germany with some friends and one of them broke or twisted her ankle (it was a long time ago) and had to be taken to the hospital. Thankfully she was okay but for the next 2 weeks we had to help her carry her luggage and had to revise our plans on what we were going to do since she couldn’t walk for long periods of time.

    Even though it was a bad experience it is still one of the best trips I have been to.

  34. Sonia M. Reply

    I thought I had shitty handwriting…

    My head hurts! I love you Noah, I really do, but for the love of humanity, only publish posts that you have typed… or retranscribe your original post. I’m like you, when I’m in the zone, I write really fast to keep up with my mind, but I end up being the only one understanding what I wrote…

    When you get a chance, please do me a favour and repost this one typed. It is an extremely valuable message, but most of my cognition is used up deciphering your creative and inspired handwriting.

    Best place I’ve visited: The island of Grand Manan, NB, Canada. It was ’94. Bank machines were starting to be everywhere. Including in Grand Manan, except that it was not hooked up yet. Had a fabulous time, but didn’t do nearly as I anticipated, due to lack of cash. Such an awesome, quiet place! It takes your breath away… It is quite something to be fully immersed in nature, yet isolated from everything.

  35. Celeste Reply

    I worked/lived/traveled in Asia for 5 years. My favourite place was KohTao, Thailand. My husband and I were working in Korea during the economic crash of 1997 (I am THAT old) and we wanted to cheer ourselves up about the fact that our salary was halved by the exchange rate overnight.

    We went to a travel agent a few days before CHristmas and he recommended Bangkok, so we booked into a swanky hotel there for a couple of weeks (which we would never have been able to afford if the region hadn’t also been economically depressed at the time). We quickly tired of the big city and went to a laocal travel agent who put us on a bus and a ferry to Koh Tao (she didn’t mention at the time that the bus would drop us to the ferry terminal at midnight, and that we and the other passengers were to sleep on the floor of said terminal until morning when the ferry was scheduled to pick us up!)

    When we got to this idyllic island, we found a guest house/ beach hut and the owner was lovely (the 10 inch wide spider in the bathroom, on the other hand left a little something to be desired). We stayed for only a few days, but we were so relaxed and happy, that we were quite confused when people started saying Merry Christmas to us one day. We had entirely lost track of time and didn’t know what day it was.

    I am a firm believer in planning everything down to the last detail. Sometimes even I have to let go and be spontaneous.

  36. Lain Ehmann Reply

    This made me LOLs. :)

    Favorite place I’ve traveled to – Amazing hillside village of Gordes, France near Avignon. Castles, hillside restaurants, pools overlooking the valley, cobbled streets. Cerulean blue skies contrast with the terracotta roof tiles… Tres romantique!

    Can’t wait to get back someday.

  37. Rodrigo Sigal Reply

    ANkor Wat in Cambodia is by far THE place (go there! better than the experience in Moscow and lunch is almost free) I had time just to sit around and see the sunset. It helped me understanding proportions of things I do and I am sure places like this help us to understand at the same time the power we have to change things and transform lives but also the real size of us and our actions. I enjoy AppSumo and you postings a lot. At the center I run (cmmas.org) we have a few Moleskin fans that also follow OrDork and Appsumo btw. Thanks!

  38. Jimmy Moncrief Reply

    For all the haters above: Don’t Hate, Participate!

    Done, is better than perfect!

    My favorite place I have visited so far is: Bali, Indonesia.

    Noah – you would LOVE Bali! It’s got high-speed fiber-optic internet and very little paved roads. The Balinese people are amazing.

    Hope I get this moleskin notebook!

    Thanks!

  39. Summer Reply

    You’ve just reminded me that when I tell myself I can’t write a post because my ipad is dead or doesn’t have wifi, I’ve just made a total excuse. Thank you for opening my eyes.

    Thank you for the brilliant notebook-photo idea. My handwriting is a bad as yours…let ‘em work for it, right?

    P.S. Favorite place? Too many to count. Great Barrier Reef? Port bar in Portugal? Hwy 1 in CA? It’s not just the place, it’s what happens in the place, and who’s with you there. ;-)

  40. Chris Stott Reply

    Best place? Vietnam. It’s beautiful, the food is amazing and the people are friendly. Head to Ha Long Bay. Go before it gets ruined. There are huge resorts being built and the population is set to double in the next 20 years (and it already feels overcrowded in the cities).

  41. Michael Reply

    I have two favorite places that I traveled to: Jaipur, India and Belize.

    Among the various cities I visited in India, Jaipur was such an amazing blend of culture and architecture (I’m not an architecture buff, but the pink buildings were something else).

    Belize is my idea of tranquility in an otherwise busy life. Amazing weather, lush landscapes, and amazing waterways.

    I can’t wait to find my next favorite place.

  42. Thomas Knoll Reply

    Bucharest, Romania was badass.

    When I was at Seesmic, we had a huge team there, and somehow I ended up as head of QA for a couple months (hey, its a startup we all gotta do new and weird jobs). But, we needed to move all the QA to Bucharest, so I flew out for 10 days to live in the office and work with a huge group of people whose names I still can’t pronounce.

    That country is so weird. It can’t decide whether it is Rome, Moscow, or Paris. It has been post-communist for, I don’t know, not very long. So, huge concrete buildings in disrepair sit right next to amazing orthodox cathedrals, with a mcdonalds in front.

    More importantly, the people were amazing. The first night, they took me to the HardRock for dinner because they thought I wanted pizza. I forgive them. By the second day I finally convinced them to show me all their favorite local spots. I still love those guys. Maybe someday I’ll get a chance to go back.

  43. Ryan Kulp Reply

    Had a terrible experience this week actually.

    Thought I booked identical 7:45a Delta flights between NYC/ATL for the holiday weekend. After my 6:30a arrival and security check-in at the ATL airport (going back to NYC), I realized my flight was 7:45p.

    Would have gotten on a standby flight immediately (thanks SkyMiles status) but all flights to NYC from the night prior were canceled. Good times.

    Ended up moving from spot 60 to 1, however, after a few more missed flights. Made it home by 5p and WiFi was only $5 all day.

    Moleskine me bro! :)

  44. Greg Jones Reply

    I’ve traveled throughout the US and abroad. However, the best place I’ve ever visited was my mama’s house, for many years after I moved away from home. She’s gone now, which makes memories of spending time with her very special.

  45. Josh Layhue Reply

    My favorite place that I’ve visited? The launch pad at Kennedy Space Center when there was a shuttle sitting on it for the next days launch. One of the most amazing things a nerd like myself could have seen. It was almost as incredible as visiting the mission control room or seeing the shuttle launch the next day. An amazing place that is responsible for so much technology that we use today. An experience I will never forget!

  46. Amber Golshani Reply

    Even though you didn’t take me to Australia with you, my previous experience in Byron Bay and the NSW Hinterlands still stands as hands down one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. Let’s go!

  47. Andres Arias Reply

    Valdivia Chile. It’s a very small city south of Chile, it used to be a rich port during the Spanish years, it has a fort called “Niebla”(fog). The place is right where two rivers merge into the sea, it’s cloudy and rains a lot. I just loved the way people talk, walk and eat fish.

  48. @ang @baxley Reply

    I met this strange guy in Hong Kong once who slept under a desk or something, that was weird.

    Then there was North Carolina, a place I lived once and then realized there wasn’t any place I’d ever visited more gorgeous.

    I’m getting married. Make it a stop. We’d never met yet if I’d not done the same with Galpert’s trip. :)

    See you soon!

    Oh, and there’s a free place to stay — but I made it clear — it’s 3,000 square feet of floor space and creativity. :)

    Love,
    Angela

  49. Mario Reply

    My most interesting place to visit was Bulgaria. I spent a month there back in 1995. A few years later I found out that I had been there before any US president, Clinton was the first president to visit Bulgaria. I went all over the country, the first time ever traveling to a foreign country by myself at the ripe page of 21. While staying a few nights in a small village on the Black Sea the cafe owner in broken English told me I was the first American to visit their town! It was an eye opening experience for sure that truly shaped my appreciation of home when I returned.

  50. Patricker Reply

    My favorite place was Halong Bay in Vietnam while backpacking. Took two triple decker boats and strung them together and had lots of shots beers and hanging out with people from all over the world while swimming next to giant limestone cliffs. To be honest it was probably the people that made it what it was.

  51. Mark Littlewood Reply

    No such thing as a terrible experience with the benefit of hindsight. The worse the experience the better the memories.

    Some of my worst experiences at the time are the ones I remember the most:

    Shitting my pants on a bus from Agra to Udaipur as a one 17 year old travelling across India as I was desperately trying to impress the old (about 24 year old) traveller I was convinced I would snog. 8 hours later in the midday heat, I was forced to concede that this might be unlikely.

    Walking into the very underused Tourist Information Office in Detroit’s Renaissance Tower and asking the slightly surprised guy behind the counter,

    “I am English and want to spend some time in town, what do you suggest I do?”

    He sat back in his chair, started shaking, then burst out laughing, “Stay alive buddy!”, he said. Hmm.

    Ignoring his advice, I went to the Museum of Art there, by bus, a salutory experience in itself. It was a lovely sunny day so I decided to walk back into town, the bus was a little too depressing to be honest.

    After about 45 seconds, and one block of walking, I heard a shrill ‘Whoop! Whoop!’ from behind me. Turned to see a big old police car and a cop unwinding his window.

    “Hop in. Where do you want to go?”

    “Err, goodness, the taxis in this town are a bit different from the ones I am used to”.

    “GET IN! Where do you want to go?”

    “Thank you. Have I done anything wrong? I really appreciate your kindness”.

    “I’m not paid to be kind. We have a job to do and we don’t like overtime. It is easier for me to pick you up and take you where you want to go than to have to do all the paperwork I am going to have to fill out if you keep walking”.

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Dickens

    They were the best times. The times when things happen are always great.

  52. Micky Deming Reply

    Best trip of my life was the most recent one. This summer took a trip with 8 others cycling through the hills and mountains of Northern Spain/Southern France.

    The views were brilliant blue ocean and massive mountains. Cycling was a combination of excruciating pain (going up) and exhilarating thrills (going down).

    Oh, and chocolate croissants!

  53. Caleb Reply

    Egypt.
    It was in 2006 when they won the african cup.
    Streets were filled with Egyptians chanting, screaming, spraying aerosol over lighters and waving Egyptian flags.
    I was as excited as I was scared.

    Besides that, seeing the architecture of the old buildings, and the pyramids, and the museums, and using my camera which looked like a phone to take pictures of King Tut even though it’s not allowed, and pissing in the Mediterranean, and getting to know our hostel owner so well he invited us to eat dinner with his entire family in their mansion.

    Phenomenal experience. I would go back in a second.

  54. Danny Reply

    I was 19 years old, and was sold a “Florida vacation package” by one of my neighbors at that time – jet-skis, cruise, hotel stay, vouchers for food at restaurants, free Disney and universal studios tickets and VIP tickets to shows. We called and confirmed all of the trip details with the secretary…

    So i booked my flights with my girlfriend and went down to Orlando.

    WE WERE SOOO EXCITED!!!!

    So once we landed to the OIA we took a cab from the airport to the “agency address” which was supposed to give us all the promised accommodations in the package. When we got there and they saw my drivers licence the lady at the desk was like “Oh, you’re just 19, you don’t qualify for this package”….

    We explained we had previously called to confirm and gave all of our details including our CC info – but she declined to help…

    After a couple of hours of bitching and getting to the office manager – they sent us to a 1/2 star shitty ass motel down in Orlando, no transportation, no discounts on anything, NADA…

    It ends up – that “Vacation Package” was one of those time share hooks…

    That whole trip was set off on the wrong foot. We had only allotted $400 to bring to this trip – which ran out pretty fast.

    What an experience, lol….

    We were traveling from NJ

  55. Tara Phelps Reply

    Hey Noah – Ok… bit of a challenge reading your handwriting…. but who doesn’t love a good challenge. Way fun post. And… welcome to Life 101… Does anything ever go exactly as planned.???

    T

  56. Nicole Reply

    Hi Noah.

    I had a great travel experience in Paris. I planned almost every second of it.

    But really, I’m writing this post to say thank you for putting this out there. I’ve been fighting my gut in a certain situation. It seems “too good to be true”. And my head keeps saying “But if it is true…it will be amazon.” But my gut says “no”. I needed this reminder.

  57. Adam Cinemre Reply

    What a bummer dude, at least you got to go to Russia!

    Moleskine giveaway hey? You sure know how to get people involved.
    I’m gonna put my hand up and say *ME ME ME*

    Does it count to say your home country – because I love Australia! Although I guess I can’t say it’s somewhere I’ve travelled to, except after returning there from stints in Europe.

    This time round, my favourites have been Albania, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia because they’re all quite off the beaten track. Got to meet some very amazing and down to earth people, and it teaches you about appreciating the small things in life.

    However, I do love the hustle and bustle of living in busy ol’ London town, now. Especially after yesterday, when I managed to snap a picture with the mayor, Boris Johnson on our rides home from work.

    Cheers dude

  58. Dan Reply

    Great message Noah. You have shitty handwriting though :-) Favorite place for me hands down is Italy. Why? Food, culture, celebration of life, scenery, history, my heritage, architecture….I could go on and on. I got diagnosed with cancer last year and that makes you think about how you want to spend the rest of your days on the planet. Luckily, it looks like I get a second chance so my goal is to get to a point financially where I can spend half my time in Italy and half here.

  59. Luke Freeman Reply

    Your handwriting is like mine! I feel better now, must be in good company :)

    I think my favourite place I’ve travelled to was Prague in the Czech Republic back in 2008 when it was ramping up to try to get the Euro. I was there for a conference and had the time of my life, met some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met.

    Another great post Noah!

  60. Mike Reply

    I went to Korea (South lol) in high school for an internship. On the plane ride there, I played the entire Blue version of Pokemon. Some of the interesting things I did while I was there:
    – toured the country on a bus (where I played more Pokemon)
    – ate Blood Cake soup, got lost in a shopping district (Dongdaemun)
    – watched Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest.
    – drank some alcohol (I was only 16!)
    – had my first cigarette

    I want to do it all over again. Except with my friends, strippers and lots more alcohol!

  61. Rich Reply

    Favorite trip I’ve ever been on was almost 10 years ago, a road trip to San Diego while I was in college (film school).

    I was living in Tempe Arizona and currently in the process of getting evicted due to me and my roommates classy behavior. While packing up my belongings, I received a call from a long time friend from high school, it was his birthday and he was in San Diego from Chicago. I told him the situation I was in and I had no where to go or be really. So I through all my crap in the back of my buddies truck and got on the road.

    We get to San Diego meet with the ol crew and drinks start flowing. My buddy I drove with suddenly feels ill. Strange because this guy can drink…I mean seriously drink. He says he starting to feel dizzy and seeing double. I told him to go lay down in the back of the truck and sleep it off, it was only about 9pm, something was off that night.
    We continue drinking then decide we should all go to the beach.
    My buddy in the truck will not wake up for the end of the world so we grabbed his keys and took the truck, while he remained asleep.

    We’re now at the beach me and 3 other friends, all of us began to feel oozy, seeing double, all sounds familiar (what the fuck is happening) before we knew it we all passed out woke up around 4:30am. Conclusion? We’re pretty sure we got fucking ROOFIED!
    As I awake I suddenly remember my buddy passed out in the back of the truck. I run over and he’s gone! We had his keys so he must had a spare. I try calling his cell but its dead.

    We began walking back to our buddies place. As we get closer I’m seeing bags and a computer in the front of his apt. I notice its all my shit. I see a note, it read something like, “I thought we were friends, you drugged me, stole my car and left me in the middle of nowhere your a piece of shit, your lucky I didn’t take and sell your shit have fun getting home.” I tried calling him a million times trying to explain what happened. No answer. I actually ended up staying in San Diego dropped out of college, traveled all around California lived in Monterey, SF, Santa Cruz doing odd film and graphic design jobs went down to LA snuck into a handful of major studios trying to get my resume out there, landed a job in at big motion picture studio and was a director on a shittie home shopping network show. Even though I ended up hating LA I was living my dream.

    This was a very dark time for me, my parents wanted to kill me! I was broke without a dollar to my name at times, or a clue if i would eat some days. I had no plan but I knew I would make shit happen and i knew I wasn’t giving up or going home. It was the time of my life.

    I didn’t talk to my buddy for almost 4 years. We’re now best friends.

    Lesson: With the right mindset chaos can be a grand gift and take you places you never thought imaginable :)

    ?

  62. Derek Wyatt Reply

    I can’t pin point one place as my favorite to visit, BUT I will say last summer was a trip of a lifetime. Shortly after I found out that my ex-wife was cheating on me, I threw caution to the wind and decided to join a group of entrepreneurs holding events across America (1 in each state).

    The road trip was called #IM48 and was organized by IdeaMensch.com. While the tour went through 48 states, I was fortunate enough to travel through 22 of them beginning in Boston and working my way down the east coast and then across the southern US. (BTW, I love Torchy’s Taco… Fried Avacado Taco… MMMM). I met startup founders in every city and was grateful for this trip at a time I needed it the most.

  63. Kevin Reply

    Favorite place visited to: Rental house with our best friends.

    The ‘place’ doesn’t matter that much (although the Outer Banks, NC kind of beats Michigan…) it’s just being able to hang out with them.

    Awesome times.

  64. Estarmir Reply

    Sorry to hear about Russia. Glad you were to turn this experience around. As for my favourite place. I would say Lake Biwa, Japan. Great for riding your bike around. Heck all of Japan rocks.

  65. Alicia T. Reply

    Great lesson! I just quoted your last statement to my son who needed a reminder. Very timely! I have several favorites but I’ll mention three: Kyoto, Japan…very ancient and well preserved. Slower paced than Tokyo or some of the other major cities in Japan. Portofino, Italy: it is as lovely as the postcards and paintings and the Mediterranean Sea is bluer than blue! And lucky for me since I live in Colorado, the Rocky Mountains! The vistas at the top of a “14ner” will inspire probably more lessons and true sense of accomplishment! So I’m hoping that quoting odork=moleskin?!?!
    Thanks!

  66. Charlie Simple Reply

    Was headed to Boston from Ft Worth at the height of the Summer 2001. Took a left at Buffalo when I noticed the signs for Niagra Falls.

    Slowly I turned, step by step …

    When I got to the falls I realized that I could see another country. I had never been on a trip so long as this on my own and now I could make it international.

    On the third day in Canada I met Franz cycling between wineries. The next day I bought a bike and a jock and joined him. At the fifth or sixth winiery we lucked into an outdoor family feast of spaghetti and meatballs with the proprietor.

    When I returned home to Texas days later and found my washing machine broken I was inspired. I tossed the dingies in the tub and went to town Lucy style stomping grapes.

    A wonderfully selfish indulgence. I planned nothing and made the best of everything that came my way. Thanks for inspiring me to recall it again.

  67. Ivana Reply

    Amazing comment is about Serbian mountain called Rtanj. You definitely wont have Wi-Fi there but connection between you and Earth will be amazing. You should go there during the spring for some mushroom hunting, cooked wine and fresh organic food. Im sending you big hug from Bangkok where you are also more then welcome : )

  68. Sascha Hermel Reply

    Great stuff – I am inspired to travel more when I read all the great posts! Don´t want to waste your time so here is my favorite place – Sydney
    Simple as that – nothing too extraordinary
    Big City, nature, the ocean, cool parties, extremely relaxed people; go surfing whenever you want or enjoy all of what this metropole offers – the best of both worlds! And if you want to be alone or have some adventure – there are long and lonesome roads and places to conquer nearby ;-)

  69. James Chapman Reply

    I live in London (UK) and traveled USA for two months back in 2010 with two friends. We did the East Coast, South and West Coast. The one place out of all of them that I can honestly say I knew nothing about was New Orleans, however upon arrival we were conveniently picked up by a local taxi drive who began explaining the history of the area. Many people choose exotic islands for their favourite (‘favorite’ :) – Amercian English) place but I can truly say that New Orleans is one place everyone should visit. It felt like the city had a personality, which I am sure has a lot to do with both the recent hurricane and their love of music.

    It felt like a place where everyone could express themselves, either through music or dancing. I remember feeling absolutely comfortable sitting in a bar on my own listening to the local Jazz band playing their funky music.

    Ps I very much enjoy your blog posts and am grateful for you sharing your experiences with us.

    Pps if you send me a Moleskin Notepad I will send you a snapshot of my journal, which I assure you will be worth the read

  70. Ryan Bonhardt Reply

    If you have any desire to surf…or learn, and if you love tacos and women which I know you do. Definitely go to Playa Santa Teresa in Costa Rica. The best trip I’ve ever taken! Stay at Casa Marbella and eat at Horizons. You will not forget the experience. You can thank me later. Second place is Florianopolis, Brazil (first if women is your deciding factor).

    Even if you don’t send the moleskin now you will after you visit either of these places :)

  71. Zach Smith Reply

    Excellent post Noah! I actually read the entire thing (The handwriting version). Your handwriting is almost as bad as mine! jk

    Anyway, one of my most favorite places to visit is Dana Point, California.

    Nearly every view has that “Pacific Northwest” feel but without the rain and cloudiness. It’s absolutely beautiful. You can take a whale watching tour with the world-famous, “Captain Dave.” When I went last time, we saw a blue whale! Yes, that’s one of the most rarest and largest mammals in the entire world! And, we were literally within 10 feet of it! Talk about an amazing feeling to realize just how small we are!

    I, too, (I never know where commas go either!) am hoping quoting odork=moleskin?

    Thanks!

    Anyway, you should go sometime if you’ve never been. I have a few friends who would be glad to let you “crash” at their place for a week or so (No cost…They might want to take you to lunch sometime though to share ideas! Like you mention, there’s no “free lunch!” lol)

    I used your last line, “Your emotions and experience are up to you” late last night with my girlfriend. She loved it. I had to tell her I got it from the “Great Sumo” himself! (She’s not into any internet-related stuff so she had no idea what I was talking about). But, it chuckled to myself anyway.

  72. Zoli Reply

    Hey Noah, great post!

    You were in India, right?

    All driver said “only 1 hour”… then we stopped 2 times for family visit and having lunch in the middle of nowhere! lol

    There I studied similar stuff just like you.

    I think it’s a must to articulate if you’re unsatisfied. Holding back causes stress and it harms both sides.

    Conflicts resolves anger so in longer-perspective it’s a lot better.

    I studied in India the other side or the sword too. Always accept if I can’t change and relax at least. Don’t be tooooo west-minded.

    I know I’m kickin-ass – but please DON’T send me FREE notebook!

    I just read somewhere that there’s NO FREE LUNCH EVER! ;)

    Do Eagle pose or Dancing Shiva instaed! It helps you accept unexpected future events.

  73. James Miller Reply

    My wife and I decided to go to DC on a whim (no plans, no reservations). Got there, no hotel available, stayed 30 miles away. 1st day we didn’t really know how to use the subway walked in 90 degree heat all day, hated life. Drove back to hotel 30 miles away. Back to DC next day. Nice gentleman showed us how to read the subway maps and introduced us to the pay one fee ride all day ticket. Life is good. Decide to go to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Arrive there around midnight. No rooms anywhere. Ask the wife if God might have impregnated her. She says no. Drive to Dover, Delaware. Get stopped in DUI checkpoint. Get through no problem. Find another hotel. No rooms. Lady at the desk calls several hotels & they have no rooms because there is a military exercise going on at Dover Air Force Base and a NASCAR race at Dover Speedway or whatever the hell it’s called. Drive back to Maryland. Pay $150 to a guy behind glass like a freaking Cinemark so I can sleep for 3 hours in a crappy hotel room. Wake up and drive home to Ohio praying for fire hail to rain down on the state of Delaware. It doesn’t happen but Joe Biden becomes Vice President. Fate hates me. The wife and I vow to never travel on a whim ever again.

  74. Brian Reply

    The best place I have visited…is okdork.com because it inspires me, encourages me, challenges me and keeps me sane! (Now I really, really could use a moleskine…)
    Thanks!

  75. Janice Reply

    Tokyo was amazing and I was surprised by how amazing Japanese food is, always defaulting to getting sushi when at Japanese restos here in the States.
    Namibia, with all its dirt, rocks and sand, was beautiful. Laying on the ground looking at the milky way through the clear night sky, amazing.
    No tacos in either place though, so there’s that mark against them.

  76. Naveed K. Reply

    You know as the saying goes, experience is the hardest teacher. First you get the test, then you learn the lesson!

    This was a great example.

    A great place to visit is somewhere where it is out of your comfort zone, not in Bermuda or somewhere where you can check out girls.

    It is places like Saudi Arabia, India, Singapore – these places will change you forever as a person.

  77. Jon LaRiviere Reply

    Best travel experience was a 9 month trip that I took a LONG time ago. It was dark and wet the whole time. I’d push on the walls, and people would push back… real freaky. Everything was mumbled and they kept playing Mozart right in my f***ing ears. They thought it would make me smarter. I was so mad when I arrived, I peed right on the obstetrician.

    Thanks for the cool post. I totally believe in the gut feelings. Glad you made it through! And I could read your handwriting surprisingly well. There should be more handwritten blog posts out there.

    P.S. Anyone else been naked and wet in a room full of people? Shrinkage, guys… Shrinkage…

  78. Dana (Dottie) Reply

    Ha ha ha I loved your post on a napkin or whatever. I loved that.

    My favorite trip, and excuse me for not being as worldly as all of you seem to be, is always a lil’ road trip across the midwest. I love the endless hours of driving through corn and wheat. And, the small towns full of dorky people. It makes me happy.
    the end.

  79. Nick Breen Reply

    I’m a big believer in being extremely positive, and guarding my ‘feels’ against negativity. I find there is no need for it.

    I really enjoyed: “you can accept and learn for future experiences”, it hit the nail on the head. However, how do you not repeat the same mistake again? Vigilance and summaries are my answer. Rereading ‘golden nuggets’ of learning that I’ve gained from less than ideal (read: shitty) situations is a good way to pass a car / bus / airplane / hyperloop ride.

    The best place I’ve visited? A popup IBM museum in New York (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JVrXAsYd1Wk#at=75). At the time I was doubting my future as a coder. This shocked my system and reminded me of all the important work that still needed to be done.

  80. Jon Reply

    Walking along the Kali Gandaki river valley in Nepal with my now wife in 98. A 3mile wide river bed & 2 7000m separated by 40miles peak to peak. Just aweinspiring

    Loving your work man

  81. Ramon Reply

    Honeymoon in Spain where we rented a car, ditched the tour guides and tore it up all along the southern coast stopping at any and every place that seemed interesting. In Madrid we even looked up and found a street named after a possible ancestor of mine named just like me! We even made it across the Med to Morrocco where everyone wanted to scam us for every euro we had. Even though Morocco was as corrupt as can get, we want to go again but this time spending more time and just getting lost in the medina away from the tourists. Boom!