Let me share my mistakes in the hope that you avoid them during your travels.
Written by: Jacques
School, university, careers and courses teach you the things that the world and society expect you to learn. For some this is enough but I don't think it has to be. The most meaningful learning I have had has come from Travel. Now I am not saying travel will take you from zero to PHD hero. The lessons you learn from travel are meaningful and will help you develop into a better human being. Here are 5 mistakes I learned to avoid while I was traveling, I hope they help you!
Lesson One- Over Planning Versus Under Planning
Lesson one is pretty self explanatory right.. right? Well I am going to explain it to you anyway. During my travels I have noticed that it is quite easy to separate travelers into two distinct groups.
-Those that Over Plan and miss out on the spontaneous trips.
-Those who Under Plan and end up having to cut their trip short or don't have the right information/gear/visa requirements(haha kind of a big one).
Personally I fit into the latter haha I am pretty chill and organisation is not really my forte. But I am working on it everyday.
In my opinion there is definitely a way to find the happy medium. Here are some points that might help you find that happy in between haha.
1- Start with the basics:
-Book your flight in and if you have a return planned book that to.
-Book your first 2 nights accommodation. You are going to want a chill place to plan your next few weeks and to recover from any jet lag.
2- Secure the MUST DO'S:
-Decide on 3 or 4 must do activities that you would regret missing. Then book them in to roughly suit your trip timelines. TIP- Give yourself realistic timelines and allow for spontaneity.
-Don't over do it just pick 3 to 4 so you don't end up booking out every bloody day hahaha.
3- Visit popular locations outside of peak season:
-Simply put if you go when it is quiet then the random activities or adventures you hear about from locals or other travelers will be available.
-Another pro... sometimes you will have locations all to yourself or with the cute new chick you met from France haha.
Lesson 2- Be Respectful
Imagine this.. You are having an incredible cultural experience in a Buddhist monastery in Northern China. One of your friends gets bored with the quiet experienced during the meditation and decides to throw on some Kendrick Lamar. Naturally the monks and other tourists are offended.
How would you feel if you were one of the locals?
This is an obvious example though, there are plenty of ways we can be disrespectful in other cultures without even knowing it. Here are some tips that might help you avoid offending the locals.
1- Do your research.
-Simply take a couple hours to research the cultural "no no's" for the country or location you are visiting.
-Also check out way's that you can show politeness and respect. It is always handy to get in good favor with a local or two, it may result in an offer to see a hidden local gem.
2- Learn some words.
-Now you don't have to learn the hole dictionary but try and learn the basics before you go. This will help you get by and the locals will appreciate the effort.
-If you learn enough you may be able to have an incredible convo with some locals. The experience will be unforgettable for you and the local.
3- Straight up Common Sense ( I know.. I know.. it doesn't exist these days)
-If it seems rude... it probably is.
-Try and take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of a local. If a tourist was to do this in your home town would you be happy or offended...
Lesson 3- Packing
Yep not sure I know many people who love packing. Sure it is exciting to be getting ready for a trip but it can be pretty stressful trying to figure out what to throw in "just in case".
Well these steps seem to help me so let me know in the comments whether they help you or not.
Step One: Research
-Find out the basics about where you will be going.
-What will the facilities be like?
-What type of transport will you be predominantly using?
-What is the climate like that time of year?
-What kind of activities will I be doing?... You get the picture right?
Step Two: Short List It
-Take the knowledge from your research to write up a few short lists; Must bring, Will be useful & Luxury Items tend to work as list titles for me.
-Be ruthless and honest with yourself. Is a hair straightener really a "Must bring"...?
Step Three: Multi Purpose Items
-Prioritize multi purpose items. The items that you can use for more than one thing.
-Having items that can serve more than one purpose will drastically reduce your pack load and... AND ... allow for some sneaky luxury items.
Step Four: Thin the Herd
-Pack is still to heavy? Time to get ruthless squad! Look at what you have.. Worst case scenario items that you are on the fence about taking. "What is the worst possible outcome if I don't bring this item?"
Lesson Four- Bartering and the myth about Bargains
Bartering is a tough one to get around and can differ from country to country. To avoid offending people try these three points.
-Bartender: "Um dude this is Vancouver we don't barter. The beer is 10 bux not 5..."
You: "Ok I see.. playing hard ball aye. $7 bux that's my final offer."
Yeah.. not all countries barter. It tends to be more of an occurrence in third world countries. A simple google search and 10 minutes of reading will give you the tips you need when it comes to barter culture.
2- Put yourself in the locals shoes
-It is easy to get caught up in bartering. Everyone wants to get the best end of the deal.. it's addictive to be winning. But.. think about who you are hurting by snaking 10 bux off the item. That 15 year old sitting in front of you is probably the only income for his family of 10. He needs that extra 10 bux for crucial medicine that keeps his youngest brother alive.
-Besides who really needs that cash. You or them?
3- Don't be sucked in by big tourism companies and their apparently "Unbeatable deals."
-It is sad but the reality is large tourism companies quite often take advantage in third world countries.
-Local outfits may not be as guggi but you will get an authentic experience.
-You will be supporting the locals.
-You are probably going to save a lot of money avoiding the middle man.
Lesson Five- Be Present!
For me. This is the most important lesson I have learnt to date! And it is constantly a lesson I need to remind myself to practice.
We are all so caught up with social media and what others think/feel about our lives. We often forget to just enjoy being in the moment. Next time you find yourself stumbling upon an incredible waterfall in Bali don't reach straight for the phone. Push away your thoughts of "I wonder if I can make my friends jealous with this selfie." No! Just open your eyes, listen, feel and smell. Be Present!
Let's recap real quick: 5 Travel Lessons to Improve your Travels
-Over Planning Versus Under Planning
And most importantly...
I hope these lessons help you out on your next trip. If they do let us know in the comments below and if you have some tips of your own hit us up on our socials below or drop a comment.
Chase those dreams!
Massie Bro's | Paulo | Jacques