Traveling exposes you to a different way of life. Different cultures do things in unique ways, and you should try to absorb all the creative inspirational sightseeing you possibly can. “But I can see all the beautiful images online, so why should I actually go to the destination?” Some people curiously enquire. Well, have you ever compared the experience of a live casino vs land-based casino? Sure, you do the same thing, but being inside a land-based casino, smelling the cards you are holding, hearing the jackpots going off in the distance, seeing flashing lights in all directions is a completely different experience when compared to playing alone in your lounge at 10 pm on a Thursday evening.
The same is true for traveling – seeing Victoria Falls on a screen doesn’t display quite as much wonder as when you can hear the water falling, and feel the mist dancing on your cheeks. If you do decide to travel and embark on this potentially life-changing opportunity, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind before and during your adventure, to ensure you have the best experience you possibly can!
Carry Copies, don’t carry the original.
Something that is often overlooked is the “boring” aspect of travel – waiting in a queue for hours to get your passport is bad enough. That being said, you should try carrying a copy of your passport instead of the real thing to as many places as regulations will allow. This helps in a worst-case scenario; making sure that you’re not stuck on the other side of the world without your ID or Passport.
Do check if your health insurance covers where you are going.
Being in a new place is fantastic, you get to experience a new way of living. Although the people there aren’t the only “locals” you might encounter. There are also “local” bacteria and illnesses that the people there may already be accustomed to. Rather be safe and double-check whether your medical insurance covers your travel destinations. If it doesn’t cover international travel or the place you are going to, it might not be such a bad idea to get temporary cover, just in case. Rather be safe than have a huge medical bill that eats through your spending money.
Do your research, don’t assume.
The first thing to keep in mind is that not only is traveling an amazing life-changing experience, it is also bound to be a huge culture shock, depending on where you travel. That being said, read up on the culture and etiquette of the place you are going to. What you might consider an innocent gesture, or a sign of gratitude, such as tipping your servers, might be interpreted as completely disrespectful.
Do explore, and don’t travel to breathe different hotel air.
A key aspect of traveling is experiencing the excitement of everything this new culture has to offer! Go out and immerse yourself with the locals. Eat the local food, pick up some local slang, even simple greetings, “Hello”, “Goodbye” and “Thank You”, said in the local dialect will get you far in the company of locals. There is not much value in traveling halfway across the world to simply sit in your hotel room, to eat the “local” McDonalds, and watch Netflix.
Do consider your safety.
Traveling is generally a safe practice, although It’s also good to remember not to “look” like a tourist in some places – don’t test fate by making yourself an easy target. Try not to flash a large amount of money, appear lost and directionless or travel around with tons of brochures in an obviously rented car. As sad as it may sound – try not to tempt people who might be looking for opportunities.
Do check your network, don’t pay unnecessarily.
Someone most likely looking for trouble is your network carrier, especially if you give them the opportunity to make some extra money off you. Your phone has a handy “roaming” mode, which if it’s on, might make your phone bill way larger than it needs to be once you return home. Ensure this is turned off. Rather make use of Wi-Fi, or better yet, get a temporary, local Sim Card as the data rates will be much cheaper! Besides, everyone who would have called you will likely thank you later. Imagine they called for a quick chat and got charged at an international calling rate! Rather let the call fail, and they can touch base in another manner, such as setting up a Zoom call or by sending a WhatsApp message.
Don’t eat at a huge tourist attraction too often.
Sure, eating pizza near the Colosseum is a great experience, and if it’s a memory you wish to create, by all means, go and enjoy it! When it comes to eating the other meals during your trip, however, try discovering a spot the locals all go to. This will not only be cheaper because they aren’t charging tourist prices, but it will likely be even tastier. In places such as this, the quality of the food is usually the main thing driving all the foot traffic, not just the fact that it is a famous tourist attraction. If you are ever unsure about where to grab your next meal, the Internet is your best friend! Make use of websites such as Yelp, or even the review feature on Google Maps.
You are not in a foreign destination just to bring yourself an extra dose of misery. Smiling is good for your mental health and also has the added advantage of helping you break down the local language barriers. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy helping a generally positive person?
Ask the locals.
Who knows the place you are visiting better than the people who call it home? Sure, websites, apps and guides might help to point you in the right direction when it comes to fun activities to do, and great places to eat, but the locals know the inside secrets. They more often than not would love to help you experience their hometown. All you have to do is ask!
Traveling is a great, life-changing experience. That being said, in order to make it the best experience it can be, put some effort into researching your destination before you embark. Remembering to do that small amount of preparation can help alleviate massive amounts of stress later and really makes all the difference!