Throw caution to the wind, take the leap, explore possibilities, these are only some of the clichéd phrases that motivate millions to get off of the couch and purchase plane tickets. At some point, most of us feel the need to shake up the norm and gain a fresh perspective, and it goes without saying that traveling is one of the best ways to do that.
But what about the feelings that pop-up after you’ve hit the tarmac? Feelings of excitement and ideas of adventure can quickly give-way to fears and insecurities.
Now, before you rethink your travel plans, it’s important to remember that these feelings are what traveling is all about. These are the moments that enrich your vacation, and, ultimately, the moments that help you gain that fresh perspective and made you search for your flight in the first place.
With that in mind, here are some traveling words of wisdom that will help you prepare for your next adventure:
1. Use your words
Traveling can be scary, but the worst thing you can do as a green jetsetter is to act like you know what you’re doing or where you’re going. If you don’t know, ask! Even though it means taking a big, bitter bite of humble pie, it will save you a bunch of time traveling in circles.
2. Leverage your contacts
Do you know anyone that lives in the city you’re traveling to? Did they ever live there? Could they point you in the direction of someone who knows the area better than you? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then it’s time to get in touch. You could save yourself a lot of heartache and some serious cash if you ask around and find out ahead of time where the best spots are to stay or grub down. Trust me, you don’t want to get snagged in your city’s local tourist traps.
3. Avoid useless purchases
Starbucks is Starbucks. Instead of seeking out your next half-caf, no-whip, double-tall macchiato, spend your money on purchases or meals that, later down the road, will still make you salivate at their very thought. Don’t spend your money on products that you can get at home. You won’t remember the Clean & Clear face wash that you purchased in a fit of panic, but I bet you’ll remember impulsively purchasing a hand-woven bag from that one vendor on the beach.
4. Leave room in your suitcase
That being said, you’re going to make a bunch of purchases, not all of them wise, but all of them deserving of a spot in your suitcase. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of room to bring back your inevitable purchases.
5. Leave the reservation
It’s very tempting to stick around and take advantage of the myriad activities that take place wherever you’re staying, especially if it happens to be an all-inclusive resort or a cruise ship. But it’s important to remember that there is a life outside of pre-paid meals and unlimited drink packages. There are people that actually live in the places you’re visiting. Take some time to see what a local’s day-to-day is like, because I bet that even though it may follow a familiar routine, every store and café will be new and exciting to you.
6. Don’t believe the weatherman
Weather.com may say that your vacation will consist of 80-degree days and clear, starry nights, but a hoodie and leggings could become your go-to when the temperature unexpectedly drops and the storms clouds roll in. The same goes for colder climates: just because your stay may consist of 50-degrees and cloud coverage doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pack those flip flops.
7. Keep cash handy
Because running credit cards costs extra, a lot of businesses will only accept cash. This is very true throughout Europe as well as in some more impoverished countries. Having cash is a quick and surefire way to get you from Point A to Point B. To avoid getting hit with major exchange rate fees, steer clear of airport exchange centers. It’s best to go to your bank before you head out and exchange your money there. Also, exchange in bulk! This will save you from racking up your fees and free you up to spend more money on items that you can actually take back with you.
8. Never say no
Don’t shy away from something because it’s forcing you outside of your comfort zone, that’s what traveling is all about. Whether you’re cliff jumping, trying a foreign food or looking to strike up a conversation with a local, most likely these experiences will not present themselves again. It’s always better to take the leap than reminisce about what you could have done.
9. Be Patient
Whenever you find yourself getting overwhelmed or anxious, take a deep breath and remember what got you on that airplane in the first place. Traveling to self-educate is not meant to be easy and your routine will not be figured out in one day. But if you keep breathing and remember to be kind to yourself and others, you’re guaranteed to wake up one morning and realize that the city that seemed big and scary isn’t so bad after all.