It’s no secret, I LOVE traveling! I also love motivating others to travel more and better. Today I’m sharing my best advice for any wanderer no matter where you’re going or how long a trip you’ll be taking.
So here it is… the TOP FIVE things I’d tell every traveler!
#1 Don’t Put It Off
The first piece of advice I give anyone considering travel – Put aside any excuses why you can’t and GO DO IT!
There’s always a reason not to travel, to put it off until it’s the right time but here’s the thing – there is never a perfect time. It’s almost always hard. There are usually sacrifices that have to be made to make it happen. It’s often easier to just put it off until “thing’s settle down.”
I don’t know about your life but things never just “settle down” on their own for me. There are always responsibilities, jobs and tight finances. There’s always a reason why now isn’t the perfect time but maybe later.
Don’t get stuck in this pattern of thinking! The perfect time will never just manifest itself, we always have to work and plan for it.
But I promise you, it’s WORTH IT!
Making room in your life for travel is one of the most important gifts you can give yourself for so many reasons…
// You come back to your life with a new perspective, refreshed and recharged.
// If you travel somewhere with a lower standard of living than your own country you can’t help but gain an appreciation for what you have. It helps you to clarify and understand what is really important in your life. (Big hint – it’s not your stuff!)
// The discovery that people everywhere share the same fundamental emotions, hopes and dreams. The realization that our sameness is much more important than our differences helps us develop a greater sense of empathy for those around us.
You don’t need to spend months backpacking around the world to reap the rewards of traveling. You can still benefit from thoughtful, intentional travel even if it’s just a short trip not too far from home. Just get yourself somewhere NEW!
Related Post: Why Travel is Important
#2 Go Outside Your Comfort Zone
You don’t have to take on an adrenaline pumping adventure activity to get out of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s taking on a physical challenge like hiking up a mountain, getting past your shyness to make new friends at a hostel or driving on the opposite side of the road for the first time – travel is full of opportunities to shake you out of your comfort zone.
The end result? The confidence you gain when you realize you are more CAPABLE than you thought you were. If you take on something that scares you a bit you realize you are BRAVER than you thought you were.
#3 Consider Going Solo
I love traveling solo! I know it seems scary and overwhelming if you’ve never done it but trust me, it’s not as difficult as you might think. It also has some unique benefits over traveling with someone else.
My favourite perks of traveling solo?
Complete control over my itinerary
I’m all for a good compromise when I travel with a group, but I love the freedom that comes with solo travel and simply being able to do what I want, when I want.
You can forge deeper connections with the people you meet on the road
When you travel with friends or family you naturally tend to cluster and socialize with your group. This makes it much more difficult to connect meaningfully with people that cross your path. My perspective on my own life and priorities has been deeply affected by conversations I’ve had with people I’ve met far from home traveling by myself. I doubt I would have had the same depth of experience and opportunity for inspiration if I weren’t traveling solo.
Related Post: Why You Should Try Traveling Solo
#4 Be a Respectful Traveler
Bottom line, when you visit another country you are a GUEST in that country. It’s up to you to conform to the local customs and norms, not the other way around. Be respectful of your host by doing some research beforehand so you understand how to behave in your destination of choice.
Whether you agree with gender biased or restrictive standards of dress or not, if you’re visiting a conservative country it’s important that you respect the local norms and standards.
REMEMBER – you want to be able to interact with locals you meet in a meaningful way. If you’re wearing shorts and a skimpy tank top in a place where long sleeves and pants are expected it’s akin to someone here at home walking around in their underwear. It makes people around you uncomfortable. Would you talk to the tourist walking around your city in their underpants?
Behave Yourself at Religious Sites
Even if you’re not a person of faith you must adhere to certain etiquette when visiting religious sites. Expected etiquette varies by site, but some generalities include…
// Play it safe with the dress code and assume long sleeves and pants (or a long skirt) are expected. Hats are also taboo inside most religious institutions.
// Cell phones off and remember your inside voice.
// Follow photography rules. In some places any photo’s are prohibited, in others you’re OK as long as you keep your flash off.
Check out this article from BBC Travel on Religious Tourism Etiquette for more in depth info on each of the “Big Five” places of worship you’ll generally visit : Churches, Synagogues, Buddhist and Hindu Temples and Muslim Mosques.
Know the Local Etiquette Rules
Make sure to do your research beforehand so you understand the local expectations for behaviour.
// Become familiar with gestures and body language you should avoid. Skip that step and you may end up accidently offending people. Things that are positive gestures at home like a thumbs up or crossing fingers for luck are rude in other parts of the world.
//Watch your eye contact too… in parts of Asia and Africa making eye contact for more than a couple of seconds is considered overly bold.
// Even if English speakers are easy to find try to learn at least a couple of phrases in the local language. Don’t be shy, people usually appreciate the effort even if your delivery is less than perfect!
#5 Slow Down
One of the most common mistakes travelers make is trying to pack too much into their trip. I get it, everyone wants to make the most of their vacation. There is so much to see and do in every corner of this big, bad, beautiful world of ours. It’s tempting to fill every available minute with activities and sight seeing.
But is a frenzied week of running around trying to stay on schedule really the trip you want?
It’s important to slow down and be in the moment. Look around and breathe in the fact that you are in an amazing place. Really take it in so you can build MEMORIES. Don’t just snap a few pictures and hustle on to the next tourist spot, take time and BE PRESENT.
How to find the balance between scheduled and spontaneous?
// Resist the urge to preschedule every minute of your trip.
// Pick a few key priorities (things to see or do) to schedule in advance.
// Leave time for spontaneous inspiration. There are some things you just won’t find in your pre trip research… make sure you’re able to take advantage by not being glued to a completely prebooked itinerary.
// Make sure to give yourself some time every day for quiet reflection (no phone allowed!)
So those are my bits of two sense – what about you? What’s the most important piece of advice you would give an aspiring or fellow traveler?
Let us know, we love hearing from you!