I just returned from a month long vacation with my family touring New York, India, Nepal, and Turkey. It was, by far, the most exhausting trip I have ever been on. In addition to taking over ten flights in three and a half weeks, we also travelled by car, bus, van, train, rickshaw (both motorized and human powered), an elephant and a camel. I got a horrific case of Dehli Belly a week and a half in, and found myself puking up black stuff. Something I hope never to repeat in my life.

India and Nepal, not surprisingly, were intense. There is incredible beauty side by side with incredible misery. As much as I mentally prepared myself for the trip, I couldn’t have ever imagined some of the things I saw. Like the Taj Mahal. Or two children beating the shit out of each other over a bottle of water. I’m still trying to process it all.

I consider myself a pretty seasoned traveller. My family has been taking out of the country trips since I was a wee lass and I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some pretty outta sight places. But this trip really took it out of me. I was so very glad to return to Los Angeles and my home. I missed LA. I missed my apartment, the New Beverly, my friends, my boyfriend. I was fantasizing about a trip to Japan in my near future, but I think I might stay on the ground for a while.

So, for your perusal, a list – in no particular order – of some things I learned on my travels. 

1. I LOVE garbage men and the sanitation systems in America. Dearly.

2. When you’re in a village that is having a festival and there is Indian techno music playing – dance. Even if everyone stares at you. 

3. Riding a camel is pretty uncomfortable on your bathing suit area. 

4. The Taj Mahal really IS the most beautiful building in the world. But the inside smells like a sweaty mosh pit of zombies. 

5. Indian children will sometime surprise you with their English vocabulary. Like when they ask you if your bra is padded. 

6. Lance Guest (AKA The Last Starfighter) is on broadway playing Johnny Cash. And he’s really good. 

7. Bring your own toilet paper everywhere you go. 

8. Even though the homemade candy on the streets of Istanbul looks delicious it will give you a sugar headache and make your teeth hurt with one bite. 

9. Turkish men are the most flirtatious men on the planet. 

10. Michael Cera’s Turkish doppelganger lives in Istanbul. He is a waiter and he employs a dustbuster to clean tables. 

11. My mother looks adorable in a fez. 

12. Don’t get your hopes up to find a cool t-shirt in Hindi or Turkish. Everything is in English. 

13. Whirling Dervishes are super cool. 

14. When a restaurant advertises they cook your food in pottery and then smash it open at the table – go to that restaurant. 

15. Cows ain’t got no qualms about shoving you out of their way. 

16. “OK” and “No Problem” are universal terms. 

17. If you were wondering where Puck from the Real World went, it was India to teach everyone how to blow gnarly snot rockets. 

18. Nathan’s hot dogs at Coney Island is disgusting. 

19. There is a restaurant in Kathmandu that has KILLER Italian food. 

20. No matter where you call home, when a kid is dressed as a smurf, it’s adorable.

21. Always travel with people you love.