Internet has made the world a smaller place. It is possible to take a virtual tour of almost every place in the world through pictures and videos. Moreover, social media enables us to talk to people from other cultures.
However, there is still no reliable alternative to traveling when it comes to learning about the world. Traveling allows us to learn about other people and their cultures in their native environment. Traveling enables us to see the world through our own eyes rather than relying on biased images and texts we encounter in various forms of media. Like any activity, traveling requires planning and knowledge of certain best practices to make the most of it.
Pack Lightly: Travel is not the same as relocation and the luggage should reflect that. One should pack only the most basic items such as clothing, a pair or two of shoes, and basic hygiene care items. Not only packing lightly makes it easier to travel but this strategy may also be lighter on one’s wallet. Gone are the days when travelers enjoyed complementary luggage services. Most airlines charge for luggage these days and they have also adopted more restrictive carry-in policies. Depending on the cost of living in the destination country, it may actually be cheaper to buy clothes and basic hygiene products there rather than bringing them from home country.
Focus on total costs, not individual costs: Many travelers pay attention to individual expenditures only instead of the total cost of visiting a country. While some individual expenditure seems a good bargain, they may end up making the trip more expensive. For example, it is usually more expensive to rent a hotel or an apartment in the middle of the city than on the outskirts of the city. However, renting in the city may actually be a better deal due to potential savings in transportation costs. Hence, one should not only consider direct costs but also related costs because what matters most is the total cost of the trip.
Research: People approach traveling in a variety of ways. Some conduct extensive research on their travel destinations while others prefer random exploration of new places. Even if one likes spontaneous travel, it is important to conduct at least a basic research to minimize security risks. Places are different not only in terms of geographical features, people, and cultures but also in terms of political, legal, and social landscapes. One reliable source is U.S. State Department that offers valuable tips for travel to different countries around the world.
Language: It pays to speak English since it is the mostly widely spoken and understood language in the world. However, English is not equally helpful in different countries hence it is helpful to learn few basic words of a native language. Even if English is widely understood in a certain country, knowing few words in a native language is still an effective strategy as it will make it easier to secure cooperative attitude from the locals. Locals tend to like a person who makes an attempt to speak their language and/or shows interest in other aspects of their culture. Nonverbal communication is also helpful when verbal communication becomes challenging because nonverbal communication tends to have more universal elements than verbal languages. However, it is also important to do some research in nonverbal native language because some nonverbal gestures have totally different meanings in different cultures. Fortunately, technology can also be quite helpful in communication as there are mobile apps that can translate verbal communication as well as written text.
See places for cheap or even free: Traveling can become quite affordable through smart strategies. One of the activities top on the list of many travelers is to experience local events and visit popular places. With a little research, one can enjoy many events and places for cheap or even free. The first task should be to conduct internet research because free events and no-ticket places are often advertised on the internet. The second task should be to visit the local tourism office as they can guide the travelers to free or discounted events and places.
Take care of your health: It is important to carry first-aid with you because not all countries have well-developed healthcare infrastructure. One should also get vaccinated before traveling to foreign places. As always, it is important to educate yourself about the potential health hazards in the destination country and take measures to minimize health risks. For example, not all countries have strict food regulations so it might be better to avoid roadside food attractions.
Get travel insurance: Future is always uncertain and no amount of planning can protect us against all the potential risks. This is why it is important to get travel insurance as it helps avoid huge expenses and also gives us a peace of mind. Travel insurance offers a diverse range of protection such as in case of cancelled flights, health emergencies, and robberies.
Traveling is fun and educational. However, it also requries planning and discipline because countries differ not just in people and cultures but also social, economic, legal, and political infrastructures. Some strategies are more helpful than others, depending upon factor such as the destination, individual’s travel style, and purpose of traveling. The most important thing is to do research, even if it is basic, and to consult other people who might have traveled to your destination country before and can give you valuable tips to make the most of your trip as well as avoid expensive mistakes.