It’s that time of the year again, life temporarily slows down for the holiday season, festive cheer is in the air and the wonderlust bug has hit an all time high.
Many people only become savvy travelers after on-the-road experience, after countless travel mistakes of missed flights, tourist behavior, and some cultural unawareness. Until one day, you begin to seamlessly move through airports and integrate yourself into new cultures like a fish to water.
So, here are some tips on how to make your travel planning less stressful and seamless.
- RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!
This will save you major time and money especially if you’ve never been to the destination before. Try picking accommodation close to where most of the activities you want to do will be, so, you can either walk or minimize transportation costs.
Download an app like Lonely Planet to help you navigate your way around. It could also help you to get a better feel of what sort of things are on offer – perhaps you may find something exciting that you never thought was available.
Also please find out about safety concerns, for example, Uber drivers in India don’t have the best reputation after a female passenger got raped in one.
How safe is the place at night? Can you walk around outside or its best to be indoors?
What is the incidence of crime in the area?
Do you need to get any vaccinations before you go?
Also make sure you know any unique laws indigenous to the location. You don’t want to end up in jail for mistakenly breaking any.
Remember tourists are easy targets as they are unfamiliar with the terrain and are often assumed to have money on them.
- Pack an entire outfit in hand luggage (plus clean underwear)!
This piece of advice is inspired by my aunt.
She’s a high level diplomat and arrived somewhere in Europe expecting to get on with whatever diplomats get on with, instead she had to waste time shopping for a new outfit as her bags hadn’t arrived with her!
Don’t be like my aunt.
Pack a whole outfit (plus clean underwear!) in your hand luggage just in case the usually effective airline systems fail you.
- Learn some useful phrases.
Just the essentials, you aren’t trying to write an assignment!
Greetings or even fun (appropriate) slang words can go a long way into endearing you to the locals.
In general, people are more willing to be of assistance to tourists that are polite especially if they are making an effort to learn the language and are genuinely interested in the culture.
Don’t be the cliché ‘let me speak English slower and louder and maybe they’ll get me’ guy.
Just get an app for the more complicated conversations but at least be able to communicate using the basics.
- Pick the right people (to travel with!)
This is a tricky one, we all love our friends and want to think the best of them but not all of them are vacation friendly.
For vacations you need not only the fun and crazy friends but the calm and considerate ones too.
Travel throws you into all sorts of unpredictable situations and you don’t want to be with someone who can bail on you or isn’t willing to do anything you are interested in trying.
If it’s a large group pick people that generally get along because travel like alcohol exposes people’s true colours!
Know who you’ve invited, if your friends are ‘princesses or princes’, then don’t plan a four hour hike through some dense jungle swamped with mosquitos and crocodiles.
Have an appreciation for different personalities and how they might handle certain conditions and situations.
This will better equip you to predict how the holiday will turn out.
- Be positive (and calm if you can help it!)
With traveling anything can go wrong.
You can lose your luggage or some of your stuff can get stolen!
You could suddenly find yourself with no accommodation or you suddenly fall ill!
Anything can happen…
Just remember that you are in a new place hopefully with people whose company you really enjoy.
Make it such that when you look back, the memories you have aren’t of the negative experience but of the places you visited and the things you experienced.
So, what if all you could afford to eat were noodles prepared using your hotel room kettle!
You still had a fantastic time and learnt you are resilient and creative in the face of adversity.