Travelling is one of the richest experiences you can have in life. The idea of leaving the homestead to venture far and wide to discover different people, foods, and cultures gives me butterflies in my stomach in a really good way. While some countries and cultures adopt different norms and values, when it comes to having an amazing travel experience, there are a number of do’s and don’ts you can follow to help ensure you have a good time, regardless of which destination you’re visiting.
Here are some of my top tips for having an amazing travel experience:
No matter what happens on your travels, don’t panic! That’s often a lot easier said than done, but there’s no harm in trying to keep your cool when something goes wrong. Even the best laid plans can go to waste. So, instead of losing your mind about a mislaid passport or a missed train, or getting worked up because you’ve been stuck in a queue for two hours, take a few deep breaths and think practically about the situation.
Where did you last see your passport? Have you asked the front desk of the hotel or the person behind the counter of wherever you’re visiting? Consider applying for an emergency travel document. When is the next train, and what can you do to kill some time while waiting for it? Similarly, instead of waiting around for those two hours, jump out of the queue and explore the nearby area. Come back when the waiting time has died down a little, perhaps.
Find a good place to bunk down
Regardless of where you’re staying, you’re always going to want a comfortable and safe place to sleep when the night time rolls around. Before booking any accommodation, read reviews to help ensure you’ll be staying somewhere clean and warm, where you can charge your phone, access WiFi if necessary, securely fall asleep in and safely get up in the night to go to the toilet.
Always research the places to stay whenever you’re going away, whether you’ll be staying somewhere locally or halfway across the world. If you’re nervous about where you’re headed, ask yourself whether you’d benefit fro paying more for better service and a private room, as opposed to staying in a hostel. Even in the cities you know, make sure you’re looking into hotels with a good reputation, in a relatively safe part of town.
When I stayed in Varanasi, India on my own for one night back in 2016, I stayed at the Granny’s Inn hostel in Varanasi because although it wasn’t the comfiest or plushest place to stay, it had an excellent reputation for customer service and the owners were well connected with local tour guides, not to mention the tasty traditional breakfast we shared in the morning!
Wake up with the sun
If you wake up with the sun, you’ll be ready for the day as soon as it starts. This usually means you’ll be able to get ahead of other tourists, as they’ll be waking up later! You’ll beat the queues for all the tourist attractions, and you’re going to want to hit these first before you get started on anywhere else, as you won’t have to fight your way through any crowds either. During these times, try to browse through any market stalls you see, as this is a good time to haggle your heart out on local produce as there aren’t many other customers around.
So set your alarm for at least 6am, tuck into a good breakfast, and then get out and about. You’ll also have more energy for the day as you won’t be lethargic from sleeping in, and you may recover from jet lag sooner than usual.
Don’t worry about not blending in
You’re a tourist and you know it! However, you don’t exactly want other people to know this, as you don’t want to disrupt anybody going about their daily business, or become a target for anyone looking for a quick steal. And yet, finding this balance when you’re a novice traveller is hard, so do your best to have an amazing travel experience, while also taking a street-wise approach to your surroundings.
Dress neutrally, or in colours and styles you see locals wearing while out and about. When I travelled to India, I often felt more comfortable if I wore casual clothing similar to outfits I saw the locals wearing.
At the same time, try to stick to public places to make sure you’re always in view of plenty of other people, and keep valuables out of sight. Keep your camera in a case and out of sight, especially if it’s expensive, but don’t let yourself miss out on any photo opportunities – just invest in a secure strap and keep your wits about you at all times.
Make sure you have fun
Enjoying yourself is the most important thing when it comes to having an amazing travel experience – you’ve gotten away from the daily grind for a reason, after all. If you come back from a holiday feeling like it was actually quite stressful, it’s time to change your habits. Think over what you could do better the next time you go away. If you travelled solo, consider taking someone with you next time, or if you travelled with company but wished you could go off and do your own thing, consider travelling alone on your next trip.
Travelling doesn’t have to be hard, and you don’t have to lose your head over it. Take the time to plan the basics of your holiday before you travel, but don’t be afraid to go with the flow once you arrive at your destination – being able to let your hair down is one of the best things about travelling!