Published On: Wed, Oct 25th, 2017

11 Ways to Get the Most out of Your Travels

Get the Most out of Your Travels

Image via Pixabay

Deep inside every person is the desire for adventure. The drive to hit the open road, see and experience new things, and create memories that stand out against the backdrop of everyday life, even if their journey only takes them to retired docklands and panoramas of well used cranes.

Of course, the global travel industry is more than happy to indulge this craving, and millions of people each year find themselves venturing to new locations on vacations that they hope to feel rejuvenated by.

To make sure that you manage to get the most out of your own travels, here are twelve simple tips to keep in mind next time you’re catching a plane or taxi out of town.

 

  • Strip away any expectations for the trip

 

Going into any trip with a series of heavily built up expectations is a sure recipe for disappointment and disaster. That’s not because your destination is bound to be boring, mundane, or anything else. More than likely it will be packed with exciting and fascinating vistas and experiences.

But they may not be the ones you’d built up in your mind.

What deep, indulgent fantasies and expectations do for a holiday is to create a very strict set of parameters for you to judge the success of the trip by.

If you’d expected to arrive on the first night, step off the bus into the misty, medieval street, and be greeted by romantic music coming from a local restaurant, then anything as simple as a busy street or urban bus station can be enough to shatter the illusion.

Go into your trip with a sense of openness instead of expectation. Open yourself up to the adventure and mystery of the place, and see first hand what it has to offer you.

 

  1. Travel with a local if possible

While it’s not always possible, there are many great reasons to travel to your destination in the company of a local, if possible.

Among the key reasons are that locals allow you an access point to a “deeper” level of the society than that usually reserved for foreigners. They can communicate in the local language, get you into lesser known restaurants and attractions that you’d otherwise never have heard of, and introduce you to aspects of the culture that never got a proper mention in your guidebook.

All societies have hidden depths to them, not immediately obvious to any visitors who might be passing by. One way of exploring those depths more fully is to stay in the area for an extended length of time and learn the language.

Another is simply to get shown around by a local.

  1. Go where the locals go, avoid the tourist hotspots

It’s a common phenomenon that many people will go overseas on vacation, only to stay in tourist resorts or enclaves where everyone speaks their language, all the restaurants serve the food they’re used to, and all the bars show their local sports teams in competition on TV.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with sticking around what you know and are comfortable with, one of the most eye-opening and exciting parts of any holiday or journey is specifically getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing something different from your daily life.

If you want your travels to be memorable, do what you can to really immerse yourself in the local scene and culture. Go to the kinds of places where the locals go. Remove yourself from the tourist enclaves.

Get out of your comfort zone and explore the unfamiliar.

  1. Try a bit of minimalism on your trip

Often, when at home, we find ourselves surrounded by a lot of stuff, distracted, fatigued, and just generally not feeling entirely in control of our lives.

Travel is a great opportunity for removing ourselves from this cluttered situation, and allowing a space to open up where we can take a breath, relax, and enjoy a more simplified existence. Even if only for a short while.

To get the most out of your trip, try adopt a minimalist ethos when packing. Be sure to take all the essentials, of course, but perhaps don’t pack every luxury you could think of.

Being able to fit all your belongings for the journey into a moderately sized backpack will give you a surprising amount of mental space and peace of mind. It’ll also free you from some of the distractions and preoccupations that can stop you from enjoying your trip fully.

  1. Use the trip as an opportunity to unplug

Just about everyone today is well and truly “plugged in”, with various social media profiles and phone apps ensuring that we’re always kept “in the loop”. Everything from comments on photos of ours, to updates in threads that we’ve subscribed to, get brought to our attention constantly.

One of the best things you can do on your trip is to completely remove yourself from that entire dynamic.

For the duration of your trip, take a break from the internet, and from technology in general, as much as you can. No Facebook or Instagram updates until you’re home.

Not only will this keep you focused on the trip itself, it will also give you a healthy perspective reset, and remind you that the digital world isn’t more important than the physical world directly in front of you.

  1. Take some books with you

It’s not uncommon for even the bibliophiles among us to get most of our reading material, during the week, in the form of posts on the internet or the text on the back of cereal boxes.

But while the daily grind often doesn’t allow a lot of time for curling up with a good book, travel provides many such opportunities.

Whether it’s sitting on a long bus ride between two locations, or relaxing in our hotel room in the evening, you’ll that you’re presented with many great opportunities to get some reading done.

Take adventure tales, romance novels, autobiographies, whatever interests, entertains, or inspires you. Just read some books.

Not only will they stimulate your imagination, they’ll be a healthy change compared to the mass media we’re often exposed to.

  1. Research the history of your destination in advance

There are various ways to connect more strongly with a travel destination. As mentioned earlier in the list, one of the best is to travel with a local. Another, however, is simply to research the history of the place before setting out on your trip.

When you know something about an area in advance, it naturally seems more intriguing and familiar. Instead of seeing mundane shops and buildings scattered about, you’ll see bits of history, and will link them in your imagination to what you’ve read.

If done right, this can make almost any trip feel like a step into the pages of a novel.

  1. Embrace spontaneity

There’s a lot to be said for planning out the details of your trip in advance. Obviously, you don’t want to find yourself roaming aimlessly around and spending the entire trip trying to work out the local tram network or think of something to do.

At the same time, though, you don’t want to be too rigidly bound by your itinerary.

Allow room for spontaneity on the trip. If you’re walking to a particular museum which seemed interesting, but pass an even more intriguing one on the way, or a local folk music performance, you could do worse than giving up your original plan in order to enjoy the experience that you’ve stumbled across.

  1. Try the local cuisine

This is hardly a surprising bit of advice, but it’s often amazing just how resistant people can be to eating foods that they’re not familiar with. Likely that’s the reason why even traditional restaurants in many places will have items on the menu like “hamburger and fries”.

 

But if you really want to step out of your comfort zone, and get properly acquainted with the local culture, one of the best places to start is by sampling the local cuisine.

Go on, it’s probably not going to kill you.

  1. See the big attractions

Earlier in this list, you’ve been advised to avoid the main tourist areas and to go for a more authentic local experience. So it may seem weird that you’re now being told to visit the big attractions.

The bottom line, however, is that many of the “big attractions” are big for a reason — even if that reason is only historical significance or clever marketing. By visiting them, you get to share in the experience that thousands, even millions, of other tourists before you have had.

There’s another reason to visit the big attractions, however. Sometimes, seeing them up close will demystify them for you. You’ll have got the experience out of the way, and you’ll then have freed up the emotional energy to enjoy the less common attractions.

  1. Keep a written journal

No matter how good your memory is, you’re bound to forget some key details about your experiences here and there. Keeping a written travel journal not only provides you with a resource for remembering those experiences down the line, it also causes you to reflect on your experiences at the end of each day, and collect your thoughts before the next.

In dull times up ahead, these travel journals can give you great insights to fall back on, or just something to roll your eyes and have a good laugh at.

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