My family and I love travelling. We love seeing new places, meeting new people and learning about different cultures. That’s why we make it a point to travel each time our schedule permits.
If there is one thing that I’ve learned after all those travels, it is the fact that nothing ever go as planned. Something will always pop up that will definitely disrupt your trip. Whether it is something major like a delayed flight or simply minor things like forgetting a toothbrush for example; whatever it is you cannot let these things ruin your trip.
Here are the top 10 travel principles that our family adhered to not just to overcome any challenge that come our way but also to help us make the most out of our travels:
1. Plan your trip
What is it that you want to accomplish on your trip? What are the places that you want to visit? Do you want to go shopping? Is there a particular food that you want to try? These are the questions that you need to consider when planning your trip. For example, in our case, my husband loves antique and vintage items. Because of this, our itinerary always include a visit to an antique shop or flea markets in the area.
A well-planned trip will save you time and energy. It is also important to not over schedule your itinerary. You will not enjoy the experience no matter how beautiful it is, when you are tired. You need to leave room for enough flexibility and free time in your schedule.
2. Study the Places you Intend to Visit
Before each travel, I make it a point to study the places that we intend to visit – from the airport, to the hotel and all other places that we want to go to. I study the transportation system, the vicinity of the area, where the grocery is, where the drugstore is, etc.. I use Google maps a lot. I also read travel blogs. I also find hotel and restaurant reviews from TripAdvisor very helpful.
By studying the places, I become familiar with the place. In short, it helps in optimising not just our time but our budget as well. Remember, a well-informed tourist is a smart tourist.
3. Learn the Basic Language
It is highly recommended that you learn the basic conversational language of the place that you are visiting. Not only will it be very helpful, it will also make your stay a pleasant and memorable one. You might even make friends along the way.
Here are some words/phrases that might come in handy:
- Please, Excuse Me and Thank You are the basic courtesies
- Greetings like Hi, Hello, Good Morning or Good Evening
- Water, Allergy, Menu and Bill or Check when dining
- Directions like left, right, straight
- How much, discount and change when shopping
- Police, Ambulance, Doctor or Drugstore for emergencies
- Comfort Room or Restroom
4. Immerse Yourself in the Local Culture
The best way to travel is to not just to see things but to experience the culture. Don’t just look at the sights, learn the history of the place. Understand the people, their customs and traditions. Taste locals food. Spend time with the locals. Talk to your cab driver, the market vendors, the waiters, etc. If you are not part of a tour, get at least a day tour to give you an overview of the place.
The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. – St. Augustine
Be a traveller not a tourist. It is a great way to acquire knowledge, educate and deepen your understanding of the people and the world.
5. Travel in Style
Pre-plan your outfits. Remember to always dress appropriately, practically and comfortably yet without sacrificing your own sense of style. When you are properly dressed, you command respect. It does not mean that you are supposed to dress like you are going to the ball, it only means that you should not look disheveled.
Moreover, your clothing should blend in with locals so as not to attract attention to yourself. Dress up especially if you are in cities like London, Paris or New York. When in Rome do as the Romans do. It is safer that way. You will also look good in your photos.
6. Pack Light
When travelling, only bring the minimums or essentials. It is impossible to bring your whole wardrobe unless you have enough money to pay those expensive airline baggage fees. It is advisable to bring some basic clothings and a versatile shoe. Too much baggage will weigh you down. Make room also for unforeseen purchases.
7. Buy Local Arts and Crafts
Every place has a signature product made by local artisans. Visit the small shops. More often than not, they have great products. Talk to the shop owners about their products and you will understand more about the local culture. Buy your souvenir items from those local shops.
For example, in our recent trip from Italy, we brought glass home decor from Murano, lace shawl from Burano, leather goods from Florence and a masquerade mask from Venice instead of buying those refrigerator magnets, t-shirts, shot glass and other items that most tourists buy.
8. Leave your Valuables at Home
Do not bring valuables like expensive watches or jewelries. If you are not careful enough, you might just end up losing them.
9. Start your Days Early
Always start the day early in the morning, I know, you are on vacation, so why wake up early? For one, since you will be walking around, it is always a good idea to start your day with breakfast. See and taste how people from different parts of the world take their breakfast.
Starting early is the best way to avoid the crowds.
Go to popular tourist destinations before everyone else does. If you start early, you can retire early. So, you will have enough time to rest for the next day. It is the best way to combat travel fatigue.
10. Avoid Crankiness
Something might have gone wrong. You are exhausted. But before you become irritable with others, remind yourself crankiness will destroy your whole journey. Do not blame each other when things don’t go as expected. It won’t help the situation. Be grateful instead and enjoy the moment. It will never come back again. The whole journey is a fleeting experience.