Traveling to a new place is so exciting to me as I get to see unfamiliar things and experience a new culture. Therefore, buying a souvenir or two is part of the experience. I usually will get an iron flag for my backpack, a fridge magnet or a handmade jewelry from the local market. That is a good way to help local families and also you get to have something to remind you of the place you went once upon a time. You will be glad you did get a souvenir for you or a friend next time you travel.
Locals love it when you talk to them in their language. It doesn’t have to be a whole conversation but it really makes their day to see you experiencing their culture fully. Some simple words I usually learn are: Good morning, thank you and goodbye. Whomever is teaching me always get to laugh as I struggle to get the right tone or pronunciation. You can ask anyone living there on how to say something and they will be more than welcome to teach you. Don’t be shy. Give it a try.
A visit to the tourist center can be a huge help in deciding on the best place for a sunset, nature walk, restaurants, nightlife, tour guide, free activities and many more. If you are in a small town or the tourist center is not close by, you can always check your lodging front desk. They always have the best recommendation for you. I often go to the tourist center in the morning after I land so I have a full day of plan activities, take pamphlets and enjoy small talk with the people working there. Don’t be shy, ask questions and take all the brochures you will need for a paradisiac holiday.
This tip is one of my favorite. Memories made in a new country of things you have seen that are not familiar to you and even those that are, need to be documented. So, how will you remember all these amazing things that you have experienced if you do not have them saved somewhere? I love to take pictures of the architecture of buildings, people, food etc.. so when I go back home, I have tons of stories to share with others and my laptop. Don’t be shy, click away.
I know all the modern technology will make you think that you do not need a paper map right? But, you do. The internet in some countries is extremely slow or the map app is not working properly. As a result, you will have a paper map handy for locals to help you find your way. I always pick one up at the front desk of my lodging or at the tourist center. Then, I pin my accommodation address and other places I would like to visit. Plus, you can keep it as a souvenir. So, why not pick up a free map?
We are born with this gift where our mind will let us know when we are in danger or safety mode. Therefore, it is very imperative that you do follow it. If you were about to go to visit a site or eat something or try an activity and your mind tell you to go another direction or just do something else. Please listen to yourself. One time, I changed my bus ticket to a plane ticket just because my gut told me too. Later, my friend messaged me and told me that the bus didn’t leave until the morning which would have make me miss my flight to my next location. Always follow your intuition.
This is another favorite tip of mine. Be adventurous during your holiday and try something you always wanted to try or something that looks fascinating to you. For example, a local dish or an activity. I am the adventurous lady. I will say yes to the local food and drink always and an activity that has a big level of adrenaline rush. I will never forgot that one time I walked into a travel agency and within ten minutes of being there, I have decided to go bungee jumping. It was the longest minute of my life hanging upside down that cord attached to me feet. But it was so worth the trill to jump 50 meters off the bridge to the ocean. I had wings, I conquered my fear. So, go ahead and live your dream.
The whole purpose of traveling is to experience life outside of your native country or the country your currently live in. So why not engage with the locals while on your vacation? Get to know how they live daily, where they eat, what they do and how life in their country is similar or different to yours. Some will help you find activities for free or at a discounted price. Others have businesses therefore you have the chance to support a family. As a result, I always like to be around locals. I share meals with them, I meet their families and engage in their cultural ritual. I support their business so they can supporting their family. Don’t be shy, introduce yourself with a smile and enjoy a cultural exchange. They are very welcoming and love tourists.
As you travel, you will encounter cultural differences. Do not have a judging mind towards a culture because for them, this is their normality. What might be right for you is wrong for them and vice versa. Have an understanding that we are more similar than different. I will never forget how judgmental I was of a roommate of mine eating with his hands instead of utensils. Until one day, I joined him and ate with my hands and actually enjoyed the experience. I have done it over and over again in other cultures after that experience. So, have a good time while keeping it judgment free.