Fifteen travel secrets and tips
Just as real estate is all about location location location, travel is all about attitude attitude attitude.
Our attitude determines our experience, where people are fearful and suspicious they see nothing but trouble and ‘lucky’ escapes while others meet no-one but really lovely people no matter where they go.
I’m in the glass-half-full-group of travellers and could never write a book of ‘all the bad things that happen when you travel’ type book. Unfortunately they are the sort of travel books that sell – and perpetuate the myth of the big dangerous world.
My most dangerous place in my many years of solo travel was in New Orleans, USA (about 15-years ago) and none of the danger – a murder and a hold-up by knife – involved me. (See Murder and Music pg 25 Naked in Budapest: travels with a passionate nomad. ISBN 978-0-473-11675-0)
So what are some of my tips for great travel?
- Be flexible with your travel dates and travel off-season when you can: that way it’s not only cheaper but also, you don’t have to share great sights (and sites) with hordes of other travellers and tourists
- Use the web for research even if you do your booking through an agent
- Travel close to home often … you don’t always need an around the world ticket to have a great holiday and discover fabulous people and places Jet lag is less when you fly east to west. Change your watch to the destination time as soon as you get on the plane to adjust your mind to the new time and stay up until the local bed time.
- Take an extra pair of glasses or contacts and a copy of your prescription for emergencies or to buy some low-cost specs!
- Check local transport options – catch a local bus to the end of the line to see more than the touristy places – ordinary lives are interesting
- Walk, walk walk: get lost often as that’s when the fun starts.
- I never pay more than needed for a bed as I prefer to keep my dollars to see things, do things and get to places.
- Join loyalty programs for in the air, on buses and for beds (such as Hostelling International)
- Sleep on the overnight train or bus – it can be done. (Maybe that’s an unfair point as I can even sleep on planes!)
- Travel light – no, even lighter than you first think – one small bag and one even smaller carry-on bag
- Eat where locals are eating. Eat seasonal fruit and vegetables.
- Always have your camera with you: keep it in a bag (zip lock ones are good) so it’s protected from dust and moisture yet handy for use – and of course extra batteries, a charger, and extra memory cards.
- Download photos often on to a memory stick, DVD, or external hard drive and keep them in a different bag if one is lost. You can also use an online image library on a website like Facebook.
- Keep your receipts for work or personal travel expenses or for income tax details: a good tip I saw recently was to write the amount and other details in your own language on each receipt – this is something I will use in the future!
- Give back when travelling in disadvantaged countries. Boxes of disposable, medical, gloves can be dropped into clinics in poor villages. Toothbrushes, pencils, pens and notebooks are always welcome in schools. Balloons are a way to give some fun to kids … after all, the best gift ever is your time and attention – and of course, don’t give sweets!
- And most of all … dont expect places to be like ‘home’ – take an attitude of couriosty and fun, mix with locals and you will have a better time than most tourists.