What Frequent Travelers Wish They Knew
If you just started traveling, you may wonder whether you’re going to make silly and avoidable mistakes. Don’t worry, you will. While there are many things you can only learn through trial and error, there are others that are tried and true. So, getting to know them will make for a smoother traveling experience overall.
More often than not, when frequent travelers look back at their first years traveling, they think about all the things they wish they knew and could’ve done in a different way. Lucky for you, here’s a list of travel wisdom that might help you on your future trips.
The World Is Not Dangerous
Many people delay their travel plans or sometimes don’t travel at all because they think the world is a dangerous place. The main reason being that the media spouts the scary news on a daily basis. They do it because it sells, but it doesn’t paint a clear picture of the international destinations out there.
The answer? You have to see it with your own eyes. Of course, you should avoid war zones or cities that are notoriously no-go places but writing off an entire country is disingenuous. If you overcome that fear and make an effort to visit “scary” places, you’ll most likely find genuine locals who just want you to feel welcome.
Traveling Is Cheaper Than You Think
While many lean towards all-inclusive travel packages — and while there’s a time and place for that — it only represents one way of traveling. The issue is that many people think traveling is expensive and that they could never afford it.
However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there are people out there traveling without spending any money. To make it cheaper, you generally have to do it all by yourself. In doing so, you’ll find out that planning a trip is nearly as exciting as the trip itself.
You Make Friends for Life
While many people spend a lot of time taking selfies at famous touristic sites so they can share them with their friends back home, frequent travelers are meeting locals and mingling with other like-minded travelers.
What makes a trip memorable is the people you meet along the way. You’ll easily forget the name of a statue or waterfall, but not that friend you traveled within the south of Thailand or the tour guide in Peru. The friends you make on your trips will be part of your life forever as you’ll most likely meet again in the future.
Don’t Take Too Much Stuff
If you read any article about travel advice, packing light usually comes at the top of it. However, this sage advice is often ignored.
In the past, taking a backpack with everything you needed was smart since there was little information about far-flung destinations. Nowadays you’ll just be a packing mule. Things have changed and globalization made sure you can find anything you need anywhere in the world.
With that in mind, you should only pack what’s essential. In case you need something else, buy it in loco.
Check Your Online Banking Frequently
Have you ever had your card blocked or declined? While it can be a nuisance when you’re safe back home, it’s a nightmare when you’re in a foreign country. Unfortunately, credit card cloning is a real issue and you should take steps to protect yourself.
The best course of action is to be super cautious with your card usage, but even if you are, it’s not a guarantee you won’t fall victim to it. So, make sure you set up your online banking and check your account around two to three times a week. If you see a dodgy transaction, take action.
You’ll Be Representing Your Country
There’s a reason Americans used to put Canadian flags on their backpacks to conceal their nationality in the past: they were embarrassed by their country. That was mainly associated with America’s foreign policies, but it goes to show that each country has a reputation.
While traveling, your actions, ideas, and opinions will be a tiny portrayal of the citizens of your country. As such, it’s up to you to maintain a decent reputation.
As long as you respect the locals and treat others kindly, you should be alright.
Keep Your Expectations Low
It’s totally okay to have a long bucket list with dream destinations and extreme activities. Just remember that what you see is not always what you get. Popular cities are stricken with mass tourism or that lovely paradisiac beach could be so crowded you can’t even enjoy yourself.
That’s not to say you won’t have a great time, you definitely will, but it’s important to take that into consideration. Ideally, instead of just checking off touristic sites mindlessly, be willing to explore and find some hidden gems on your own.
Learn to Trust Your Gut
Sometimes, there’s this little voice in your head telling you to do (or not do) something. When you’re traveling, it’s worth listening to it. This isn’t some spiritual nonsense, it’s just your mind telling you something you can’t clearly see.
This little voice generally works for both good and bad situations. If there’s something off about a stranger or hotel room, move away until you feel safe. Likewise, if an opportunity comes up and you feel it will lead to some awesome adventures, just go for it!
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is a necessary evil. You’ll probably never need it, but once you do, it’s definitely worth it. Medical care abroad can be extremely expensive and you can potentially go bankrupt without insurance.
If you don’t go for fully comprehensive coverage and focus on the big problems, such as accidents, flight cancellations, and theft, it’s not that expensive. Just remember you’re not Superman, so things will go wrong every now and again.
Be Comfortable with Adversity
When people embark on long-term or international trips, things rarely go according to plan. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way it is.
It could be something as small as a smelly toilet or something major as a volcano eruption. If you get stressed every time something goes wrong, you might as well stay at home.
Once you understand problems are part of the journey and embrace them, you’ll see that these situations often create the best travel stories.
Stick to Your Budget
While some people — be it the so-called digital nomads or travelers who work for accommodation — work during their trips, most people just save their hard-earned money and go on holidays. Unfortunately, some forget the money pot is not bottomless.
Traveling long-term is like having infinite days off, where you just think about food and entertainment. It’s natural to want to go to all the parties, tours, and cities you want, but it comes with a price.
To avoid spending all your money in one place, set a daily or weekly budget, and stick to it. For instance, if you’ve been staying in a hostel for a month, you can probably spend a weekend in a five-star resort without breaking the bank.
You’ll Get Homesick
Being away from home for long periods of time can sometimes be challenging — especially for those who do it solo. You’re effectively turning your life upside down to spend time with different people, food, and cultures.
Since it’s the 21st century, being homesick isn’t the end of the world. You can fight homesickness by connecting with people back at home through apps like WhatsApp and Skype.
Start Traveling Now
One thing any traveler will tell you is that you won’t regret it. So, if you’re still debating whether you should start traveling, just go. Instead of finding excuses for not doing something, focus on the reasons you should do it.
There has never been a better time to travel than now. You can easily find all the information you need online to book it by yourself. If you’re not confident, there are plenty of travel agencies that’ll help you out.
Once you start traveling, your first thought will probably be “I should’ve done this sooner.”