A guest post by: Katie Bailey of No. 1 Traveller
Travel means different things to different people. It might just be a change from the norm, a holiday, a visit to family and friends or it could be a life changing experience and the chance to really get out there and learn about the world.
Wherever you travel and whatever the reason an important part of it will be the experiences you have, the adventures you share and the people you connect with.
But how can you make sure you get the most out of it without stressing about the organising, what to do while you’re there and things going wrong?
Packing Photo by: Highways Agency
- Be aware of local practices and customs. Before you travel do some research about what is and isn’t acceptable. Be respectful of the native customs and culture. Take cues from the locals and if you’re not sure about something, then ask! It will show interest and effort on your part and you’ll get far more out of the experience.
- Take appropriate clothing. After all, you don’t want your efforts to learn about the customs and traditions to be wasted if the locals are offended by your choice of clothing, or lack of it. And dressing conservatively will also mean you’re less of a target and therefore, far safer.
- Take info in guidebooks with a pinch of salt, they will be useful but they’re also often outdated and very generic. For example, some of the etiquette tips can be regional and if you follow them religiously then you could well end up offending someone quite unintentionally.
- Be open to new experiences. Plunge yourself into adventures and new cultures. Try the local delicacies and do as the locals do. Even when it comes to using the squat toilets, some travellers and holidaymakers even prefer them afterwards…...yes, really!
- Try not to have too many expectations about your trip. It’s good to give some thought to what you’d like to do, otherwise you’ll find yourself at the end of your trip disappointed at not having done things you would have really liked. But having everything planned and idealised right down to the last detail is also likely to leave you feeling disappointed and disillusioned because having such static expectations and plans tends to do that no matter how well things go.
- Be spontaneous and amenable to change. Your last minute adventure could be the best thing you ever do, you could find yourself with a passion you never knew you had or meeting someone you have an amazing connection with!
And now for the practical stuff!
- Take cash with you. Not having it means that you might miss out on fantastic places to eat and amazing escapades, as not everywhere and everyone will accept your credit card.
- Try to pack light. We often end up wearing the same things wherever we go. It can be very liberating to pack less than you think you need and most hotels offer laundry services if you really need them.
- Try and find accommodation within walking distance of a few sightseeing locations. You’ll save money on transport and you’ll be able to be far more relaxed and flexible during your sightseeing if you don’t need to worry about travel arrangements.
Local delicacies photo by: Robert Verzo
- Plan well. Ensure you have adequate travel insurance and if you’re travelling in Europe, a European Health Insurance Card. Also make sure you take a mixture of cash, traveller’s cheques and credit cards so that if something does go wrong you’ll be well prepared.
- Make sure you have any necessary vaccinations and take malaria tablets etc, if needs be. You don’t need to be told that it really wouldn’t be worth having your trip completely ruined and your health compromised for the sake of a couple of tiny jabs.
- Leave any valuables you don’t really need at home, you don’t need the stress of them getting lost, stolen or damaged.
- Consider registering your travel plans with a travel registration company and give your family/friends access so they’re able to contact you in an emergency.
- Make sure you have copies of your passport, tickets and traveller’s cheques to use in an emergency. Obviously, you’ll need to pack these separately from the original documents.
And last but not least
- Take plenty of pictures, you’ll be glad you have something to look back on years after your trip.
- Have a fantastic time!
Kate is a keen blogger who writes on behalf of Electric Dialogue and No 1 Traveller, a UK company specialising in Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airport lounges.