5 Tips To Travel Better
Words: Shaina Herman
There’s no right or wrong way to travel. Getting in your car and driving 4 hours to the nearest coastal town or flying to Antarctica, it’s about being somewhere new, or rediscovering your favourite place. It can be trying, getting lost or into a pickle of a problem that takes the stress levels way up, but those are the parts that give us insight into who we are and are intense tests for any relationship.
The important part is to take it all in & not let the small unexpected glitches hold you back from experiencing the best parts of your trip. Stay grounded, let yourself be immersed in your surroundings, & learn how to make the most of your opportunities to explore.
- PLAN AHEAD
My most recent trip had me left in complete chaos because I didn’t plan ahead. I’ve been travelling for so long, my ego got the best of me and we made so little bookings I spent half my morning every day researching our next steps. And, because I was always playing catch up, prices went up and our choices were limited.
There’s certainly a charm and whimsy in last minute finds, but in some countries (Japan), these are places everyone wants to visit in the world and there’s often limited space. It’s amazing to travel to a place that is so organised and have destinations that are so desirable everyone wants to visit, but that comes with the inability to just ‘wing it.’
TIP: Use tools like online booking sites, my favourite is Kayak.com, local blogs, and always try to get a sim card with data, so you can connect & make changes to your trip on the go.
2. Meet Locals
The best way to learn insight into a place is to talk to its people. Having said that, it’s not always so easy to communicate. If you try, most people in most places will try too. If you find someone who speaks your language, ask them questions if they are willing to spend time with you, most are.
Find out where people eat, what people eat, where people go for fun, the best hidden beaches, night clubs, markets, and truly off the beaten track options from the people who know it best. Learn local phrases and keywords. Always master ‘Hello and thank-you,’ and smile at people. Don’t press people who aren’t interested in you, they don’t have time for tourists. There are some excellent point to picture books that are great for travel, assisting in a jam if you can’t communicate.
3. Eat Local
Eating is primitive. It connects us. It brings us pure, immediate joy. Trying new dishes may feel uncomfortable for some, but start with street food and small investments that might lead you to your new favourite dish. There’s also a sense of respect when you are willing to joinsomeone you’ve just met over something they love to share. Communicating you are a vegetarian or have food restrictions can be tough, especially in places where they think pork is a vegetable. Consider that your connection in sharing this meal might be more significant than the restriction.
If that’s not possible try to learn the right vocabulary and be sure not to insult the chef by sending your food back, it doesn’t work like that everywhere in the world.
TIP: Search your instagram for hashtags featuring your destination, send out a tweet to bloggers, magazines, ane experts to see what’s on the menu for the season.
4. Choose What Suits You (and your travel crew)
Everywhere & every experience is not for everyone. I personally think that pushing boundaries is healthy, but those limitations should not push you or anyone you are travelling with over the edge. I have the terrible habit of not listening to my partner when he’s tired, that has once resulted in taking him to a hospital in Argentina instead of spending the day out exploring anyway. It was just a throat infection, but I should have been way more receptive to what was and wasn’t working at the time. Travelling is about bonding with your partner, your friends, the people you meet, and yourself.
It’s about maximising the best opportunities that feel right and that you love. If you aren’t a foodie, and it feels like a waste of money, then a MIchelin restaurant might not be for you, don’t kill yourself to make it happen just because it’s in your guide.
TIP: Find reviews and recommendations for your destination. Research writers and travel sites you trust that can be your go to. Friends are best, they know you well and can offer advice based on you.
5. Let Go!
Our differences can certainly make the situation uncomfortable. Some people only eat with their hands, some eat only with a fork and knife with no elbows on the table. These aren’t right or wrong, just an opportunity for you to experience life with new people. To truly experience joy, I believe we need to be accepting of ourselves and our surroundings. Travel can be challenging, uncomfortable, & full of surprises. It can also be absolutely as you expected it, lying on the beach, in paradise, with white sands & someone to bring you all the cocktails in the world. Still, you might be thinking about your woes and worries instead of just taking in the best & most unique moments that are on offer to you.
We travel to lose ourselves but because of the planning, moving, and unpredictability of being in a new place, possibly a new language, and alternative customs, it can be a challenge to assimilate.