1. Top Travel Tip: Patience Is Important.
Don’t sweat the stuff you can’t control. Life is much too short to be angry and annoyed all the time. Did you miss your bus? No worries, there will be another one. ATMs out of money? Great! Take an unplanned road trip over to the next town and explore. Sometimes freak-outs happen regardless.
2. Wake Up Early
Rise at sunrise to have the best attractions all to yourself while avoiding crowds. It’s also a magical time for photos due to soft diffused light, and usually easier to interact with locals. Sketchy areas are less dangerous in the morning too. Honest hardworking people wake up early; scammers, and criminals sleep in.
3. Laugh at Yourself
You will definitely look like a fool many times when traveling to new places. Rather than get embarrassed, laugh at yourself. Don’t be afraid to screw up, and don’t take life so seriously.
Once I fell off the bike while riding in Amsterdam. Everyone was looking and wondering if they should reach out to help. I was not hurt so I just started laughing, so did they, life went on.
4. Meet Local People
Make it a point to avoid other travelers from time to time and start conversations with local people. Basic English is spoken widely all over the world, so it’s easier to communicate than you might think, especially when you combine hand gestures and body language.
Learn from those who live in the country you’re visiting. People enrich your travels more than sights do.
5. Keep a record
Whether it’s a thick journal, hundreds of photos, a quick line in a note pad or an Instagram feed filled with pictures and captions, keep a record of your travels. When you’re doing amazing things, you think you’re going to remember it for a lifetime but it’s amazing how quickly you forget.
You may only see these places & meet these people once in your lifetime. Remember them forever with plenty of photos. Don’t worry about looking like a “tourist”. Are you traveling to look cool? No one cares. Great photos are the ultimate souvenir. You’ll thank yourself 10 years later.
6. Trust your instincts
This applies to everything from feeling like you’re in the wrong queue at the airport to not feeling comfortable sitting next to that creepy guy on the train. Always trust your instincts. Sometimes your instincts are wrong but it’s not worth taking the chance – especially when it comes to ordering food from a menu where you can’t read a single word.
7. Don’t be afraid to take tours
Lots of people avoid tours while they’re travelling as they don’t want to get stuck with an enormous group following a giant umbrella. These tours are boring, slow, overpriced and usually feel like a school trip.
But not all tours are like this!
I nearly always take tours while I’m travelling as it’s a quick way to get to grips with a new destination, you learn a lot about it and discover some hidden gems.
Free walking tours are a great way to get your bearings in a new city and if you’re traveling solo they’re great to meet new people.
Tours can also be a cheap and an easy way to explore the area around a city as you won’t need to hire a car or worry about getting lost.
8. Smile & Say Hello
Having trouble interacting with locals? Do people seem unfriendly? Maybe it’s your body language. One of my best travel tips is to make eye contact and smile as you walk by. If they smile back, say hello in the local language too. This is a fast way to make new friends.
You can’t expect everyone to just walk around with a big stupid grin on their face. That’s your job. Usually all it takes is for you to initiate contact and they’ll open up.
9. Keep an Open Mind
Don’t judge the lifestyles of others if different from your own. Listen to opinions you don’t agree with. It’s arrogant to assume your views are correct and other people are wrong. Practice empathy and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Embrace different possibilities, opportunities, people, suggestions and interests. Ask questions. You don’t have to agree, but you may be surprised what you’ll learn.
10. Eat Local Food
Think you already know what Mexican food tastes like? You’re probably wrong. Taste a bit of everything when you travel, especially if you don’t know what it is. Ask local people for recommendations. Eat street food from vendors with big lines out front.
11. Stay in Touch
Remember to call your family & friends from time to time. Maybe surprise them and go old-school by sending a postcard (it’s in the mail, Mom!). With current technology, you can use facetime, FB messenger, Periscope, etc. through Wi-Fi for free. Travel isn’t lonely, far from it.
12. Travel More!
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed over the past 10 years, it’s that many people back home love to tell me how lucky I am while making excuses why they can’t travel. It’s too expensive. They can’t get time off work. Find the time, save the money; you will not regret it.