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Ellie Kemper’s Rules of Travel

Traveling can be both fun and stressful! There’s so much new territory to explore, languages to learn, and places to see. Ellie Kemper, star of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and author of MY SQUIRREL DAYS, shares her rules of travel from her own personal experience being abraod. 

I’m not sure if it was the glimmer of the big-city lights or just the freshness of a new land, but I knew from the moment I stepped off the bus in Hannibal, MO, that I was meant to roam. Look at the post office, I thought to myself, my fellow sixth graders clambering and yelling all around me. And there’s the highway, too. There was a post office and a highway just like in my own hometown of St. Louis, MO, but I may as well have been in a different universe. Everything felt new again in this exotic place, and I was invigorated. “When do we go to the caves?” some adolescent klutz shouted next to me. “Yeah, we wanna see the caves!” echoed his idiot sidekick. I rolled my eyes and smiled at the teachers. Let’s skip the caves and go straight to the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, I mouthed to Mrs. Hoffman. After that, I would really enjoy an opportunity to check out the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse and old Nipper Park, I kept mouthing. “What?” Mrs. Hoffman shouted. “Ellie, are you going to throw up?” A couple of my carsick traveling companions were currently puking at a nearby McDonald’s. “No, I just—I’m fine,” I replied. “I’m fine, Mrs. Hoffman.” I shook my head and chuckled to myself. It’s not that I was ashamed of the people I was with; it just felt funny to be the most sophisticated person there.

As an American, I hold many things dear: liberty, free speech, a “seems good enough to me” work ethic. But I also understand that the world is a big place, and big places require exploring. For this reason, I made a promise to myself after that trip to Hannibal to try to see just as much of our world as possible— and I have devised a list of pointers to guide me as I sally forth. Here are a few of them:

  1. Learn the language of the new land.
  2. Adopt the customs and dress of the new land.
  3. Do not sit still. Get out there! The new land is yours for the taking, and you can’t take the new land if you are not walking everywhere and in constant pain. Blisters and blood prove that you actually did something.
  4. Avoid tourist traps and attractions that might make your trip “easy” or “fun.” Nobody ever reached a deeper spiritual level by having a nice time
  5. If you find yourself with the opportunity to go on a bus and drive around looking at statues and trees and a lake from The Sound of Music film set, grab it
  6. When in Salzburg, do as the Salzburgians do
  7. Always take the free breakfast.

To learn more about Ellie Kemper’s life behind the scenes pick up a copy of MY SQUIRREL DAYS!


For more on Tips on Life & Love: The Top Tips for Living Abroad


Excerpted from My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper. Copyright © 2018 by author. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Photo by Chelsea London Phillips on Unsplash


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