1. RESEARCH, RESEARCH AND MORE RESEARCH
Headed to Boise, Idaho or Siem Reap Cambodia, do your homework before arriving. Look up a few common phrases in the language and map out where you are staying to see what is within walking distance. Don’t stop there, the history both good and bad shape a culture and represent the people of where you are visiting. It will not only get you excited, but will give you a better understanding of what to expect when you visit.
2. GET LOST ON PURPOSE
Take an afternoon and walk without direction. Get lost in your mind, your surroundings, the sounds, the smells, and awaken the senses. We often follow the herd and miss things along the way because we are on the main road where the souvenirs are sold, and the prices are higher. The difference between tourists and travelers is that tourists follow the marked path, whereas travelers take the road less followed. Be a traveler.
3. ASK THE LOCALS
No one knows better than locals when it comes to the best food, bars, and basically anything. Ask a waitress at dinner where they go on their day off or their favorite place to eat in town. If talking isn’t your thing, a good indicator of great food is when you see a long line of locals waiting at a corner restaurant. Most people see long lines and say, let’s just go across the street where it’s less busy. Don’t do that! There is a line for a reason and that reason is that food is damn good!
4. BE FLEXIBLE
Life never goes according to plan and traveling is no different. Sometimes flights are delayed or canceled. Your hotel choice looked great in photos but in actuality is a total bust. Don’t see them as problems, being a traveler is all about getting there not just being there so be flexible and find solutions. Smiles are contagious and people will help wherever you are. Don’t let things out of your control ruin your trip.
5. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Try the local food, zipline through the mountains, or walk through a local market to find items like stinky Durian fruit, Quail eggs or even fried bugs. Traveling transports you, so embrace it! When you step out of your own way, you find parts of yourself you didn’t even know existed.
6. KNOW THE CURRENCY EXCHANGE RATE
When traveling to other countries, chances are you will need to obtain their currency for some purchases or tipping. The best way is to withdraw it directly from the ATM (make sure there are no card readers and only use ATM’s that feel secure). You will get the best exchange rate and the bills are in the local currency, but make sure you know the exchange rate so you don’t take out too little or too much! Another way to ensure the best exchange rates, is to use your credit card for purchases. Make sure to alert both your bank and Credit card company of your trip before departing.
7. KNOW THE RATE FOR LOCAL TRANSPORT
We have all been victim to the scamming taxi drivers no matter where you are in the world, but now a days, you can google the expected cost to avoid being ripped off. Uber is expanding and many countries, like Vietnam, have adapted their own version called GRAB that uses an app to have either a car or moto pick you up. The fare is stated on the app before the trip and you pay the driver cash at the end of the ride. This way there are no surprises at the end.
8. HOW TO PACK
First things first, if you plan on checking a bag, make sure to pack a change of clothes (including socks, underwear, and bathing suit), medications, chargers, and any necessary documents/money in your carry on. In the event your luggage is misplaced, you can survive a few days. Secondly, make sure to plan your outfits prior to the trip so you aren’t bringing unnecessary weight around with you. You can even purchase packing cubes and place 1-3 days of clothes into each one to make packing and unpacking so easy! The most important thing to remember is, if you pack it, you have to carry it or lug it behind you for the length of your trip. This can give you blisters on your hands, sore shoulders, and tight backs which can ultimately ruin any trip.
9. TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES
Pictures are reminders of memories paused in time and can bring back those moments at first sight. You can hear the ocean crashing in the sunset picture you took in Hawaii and smell the hibiscus flowers the second you see it. Photo sharing makes us feel good so don’t hold back and do it for yourself, but don’t be surprised if you inspire some of your friends along the way.
10. PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE
Especially when traveling abroad, make sure to purchase travel insurance in case of emergencies. One of my favorites is worldnomads.com.