Traveling the world is an adventure many dream of, but few get to pursue. If you’re one of the lucky ones, the following tips can help you make the most of your journey.
Patience and a positive attitude are your best travel companions
The more you travel, the more you’ll come to value patience and a positive outlook. You will face travel delays, weather that keeps you from exploring your current location, language barriers, cultural differences and any number of other inconveniences. If you can’t do anything about it–don’t sweat it. Your adventures can’t all be smooth sailing, but, as in the “regular” world, how you choose to deal with adversity makes a world of difference.
Don’t just visit a place–be part of it
Don’t think of yourself as a tourist. Instead, think of yourself as a new, if temporary, resident. Get up early and watch a sunrise. See the place before it’s overrun with tourists. Early morning can be a great chance to interact with locals who can tell you where their favorite restaurants and other great points of interest are. Also, most areas are safer during the early morning hours–before scammers, pickpockets, and other sketchy characters are up and about. Interacting with locals can be the best way to get a true feel for the culture. The people who live in a place are far more “real” than any travel guides. Going where locals go and watching locals going about their daily lives is a far more cultural experience than just sticking with traditional tourist routes.
Keep a journal about your journey
Take tons of photos and plenty of notes during your travels. This kind of documentation will allow you to revisit various once-in-a-lifetime locations whenever you want. They’ll help keep details clearer, longer. They’ll also give you a way of comparing and contrasting various cultures. You can share your adventures with family and friends who can’t travel with you. You could even start a travel blog and maybe inspire others to pack their bags or remind them of their own journeys to faraway places.
Be sure to backup everything. Religiously. This applies to photos and notes as well as important documents like visas, ID, your passport, health insurance info, etc. In short, make sure that if your computer, phone, or wallet gets stolen, you have a reliable backup record of anything you need. External hard drives are a good choice, as are quality internet-based applications.
Keep extra cash on hand
Along the lines of “stuff happens,” keep in mind that you’re bound to run into some sort of financial emergency every now and again. Whether it’s a small shop that doesn’t take credit cards, a busted ATM, a stolen wallet, or some other minor or major emergency, there will be times when having extra cash stashed away comes in handy. Having a few hundred bucks tucked safely away in a shoe, jacket lining, toiletry kit and/or any other non-obvious place could well save the day.
Don’t forget to call home
Let your wanderlust be your guide. See as much as you can, meet as many people as you can, and make enough memories to last several lifetimes, but don’t forget to stay in touch with the folks back home. Besides the fact that the family and friends back home represent more permanent relationships than any you develop while traveling, checking in on a regular basis and sharing your plans will keep loved ones from worrying too much. Also, in the event that you do run into serious trouble of some kind, a missed check-in could alert others that something is wrong, which could be a lifesaver, literally.
If you’re fortunate enough to “go out and see the world,” don’t ever forget what a gift it really is, and don’t get so caught up in destinations that you miss out on the journey.