Certainly, I wouldn’t qualify as the world’s most experienced traveller. But driving across the United States a dozen or so times and travelling abroad to a handful of different countries will teach you a few lessons on the art of travel. Through these expeditions I’ve encountered plenty of bumpy valleys and have caught many friendly winds at my back, sailing to mountain peak highs. I hope readers will take something positive from what I’ve learned from countless mistakes and tons of triumphs. All have made me a wiser traveller.
No matter where you are travelling, it’s important to be well informed about your destination and mode of transportation.
Know (as best you can) what to expect for weather conditions, terrain and type of travel and sleeping and showering conditions. These factors will inform your decision on what clothes, toiletries and gear to pack. Less is more when on the go, and packing lightly will make you more agile and flexible on your journey.
Have at least a rough idea of the route you will be taking for your excursion. Always keep physical maps and tour guides that highlight services and accommodations.
To be knowledgeable of the history and culture of your destination will provide background and make you a more gracious guest.
It will be worthwhile to educate yourself on the customs and culture of the area you will be visiting. We all know that you don’t have to travel far to experience a shift in the way people talk, view the world and carry themselves. By respecting and actively trying to participate in the manners and activities of locals you can ingratiate yourself, make friends, get insider tips and be treated like a native.
Another way to be aware is to always remain conscious of your surroundings. You’re on unfamiliar turf and that’s usually obvious. For this reason have a healthy skepticism of overly friendly people and sketchy places. Avoid situations that leave you open to be taken advantage of.
Basically, trust your instincts. They’re there for a reason and may just keep you safe and out of trouble.
Combine preparation and awareness together and you get security. Traveller’s insurance, a health plan and guided tours will give peace of mind when travelling abroad.
While road-tripping always carry a first-aid kit, emergency tool set and extra water and food. Reliable cell service is important. It’s a little tricky breaking down in a dead zone… (I know from experience!)
If you generally refrain from taking dangerous risks and making hazardous choices, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
Being safe does not have to intrude on your curiosity and desire for new experiences. In my opinion, it can be rewarding to give into spontaneous propositions and recommendations. It may not be for everyone, but I love to exercise the freedom of flying by the seat of my pants when I travel.
Try new foods, wonder at nature and architecture and by all means engage with locals. Your curiosity may spark another’s passionate hospitality, making for a memorable trip.
I have nothing against grand, fancy all inclusive resorts. Some folks prefer to relax and veg out on vacation, and deservedly so. You just won’t ever find me at one.
There are too many places to see, exotic morsels to eat and interesting people to meet. The exchange of culture, backgrounds, ideas and stories is what leaves the most heartfelt impressions. An adventurous traveller reaps the benefit of these meaningful interactions. Step out of your comfort zone and experience a shift in your perception of the world and its acceptable modes of living and thinking.
To Wrap Up
This is my basic formula on how to get the most out of your trip. It’s far from a complete guide, but these ideas are born out of my own personal experiences. I hope they can help. No two travellers are alike, I still have many roads to roam and much to learn. Happy trails to all the wise travelers out there. Cheers!
“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” - John Steinbeck