Tips on Traveling Like a Pro
Don’t just wing it
“Live in the moment”, “Go with the flow”, and a bunch of other Facebook pearls of wisdom have convinced people that life needs a slogan in order to be experienced. The truth of the matter is that being spontaneous can be difficult when you have no idea how to get to your hotel or how to take the bus. Being overly adventurous can ironically prevent you from making the most of your escapade and cost you many of those precious moments, not to mention dollars.
Learn basic language
Learning some basic words and phrases in the local language can separate you from the packs of ignorant tourists locals are often sick of. Opening up with something like “Excuse me. Can I ask you a question, please?” in a broken language is an endearing attempt that brings down barriers – not so much language ones, because you’ll still need an answer in English, but at least the human and cultural ones. It’s the gesture the counts.
Learn a bit about the history
Whether you like planning or not, history is definitely the fun kind of holiday preparation you can do. It can tremendously enrich the prism through which you experience a destination, it provides great context within which the roots of landmarks, culture, and art can surface.
Don’t project your beliefs
Traveling is meant to expand your views, not impose your already fixed one. Taking in new cultures, customs and people can be easier said than done and requires patience and real open-mindedness; some can be demanding, which is what makes them particularly rewarding. Who knows, you make pick up new beliefs with new experiences.
When in Rome, don’t forget you are not Roman
When in Rome is a great attitude, but there are certain things that require some experience. It’s easy to get carried away in the pursuit of an authentic, immersive experience, so beware of activities that you might not be ready for or are just not cut out for. You are a person, not a chameleon.
Talk to service workers
Local service workers can be an invaluable source of information that can’t be found in any guidebook. They are perfect because part of their job is talking to people and being welcoming, especially in tourist places. Nobody is saying to use them as a tour guide when they are paid to serve you drinks, but a couple of polite questions here and there can ultimately bring you to places and activities only a real local can recommend, not to mention bartenders and waiters usually know where the fun is.
Don’t be afraid to explore alone
Many people who travel in groups get too hung up on doing and seeing everything together. Differences are almost inevitable, and instead of wasting half your vacation trying to reach compromises everyone will pout for anyway, just go out there and do what your heart desires. Solo exploration holds a special kind of charm, it makes for a more intimate, personal experience that you can bond over with none other but your inner discoverer, and that’s a bond that literally lasts a lifetime.
Just start walking
Your travel experience doesn’t have to be mapped out to the very last detail. In a big city where art and sights are in spectacular abundance but time isn’t, it’s easy to get overzealous, trying to reach as many places and landmarks as possible. That chase can make you feel as if you never left the office. Just relax and start walking. Some of the best landmarks are those you just stumble upon, as if they were meant only for you. Hidden gems can rarely be found in guidebooks.
Your eyes have the best resolution
Capturing moments on video and pictures is great, but only do it after you’ve captured them in your mind and heart. So many people hurry to take out their cameras before they have even experienced things with their own eyes. You will end up making thousands of videos and pictures you’ll never watch again. Ironically, the moment will slip through your fingers as they tightly grip your device of choice.