Traveling is not for everyone. In fact, some feel that the whole hassle of traveling is less than inspiring, and the comforts of home beckon far greater.
How about opening your perspective and beginning to introduce some travel into your current lifestyle? Could you make this easier on yourself?
Here are some useful points to consider making your travel experience less bumpy and more appealing. There is no right or wrong to traveling, but adopting these suggestions will support you in having more pleasant memories instead of struggling day-to-day with your journey.
No place is like home and you are a guest in their country
One of the major reasons for traveling is to expand one’s perspective. No place is just like home, and that’s why you are visiting. The food is different, the weather, the plants, the customs, the clothing styles – all sorts of things. Immerse yourself into the new and enjoy. Relax. And remember, you are a guest in someone else’s country. Be gracious.
Be open about food
At home you can have all sorts of comfort foods in your favorite flavors and spices. You may be used to huge salads, huge steaks, favorite pizzas, gluten-free pastries, vegan dishes, or perhaps you enjoy a hamburger from a fast food joint from time to time.
When you travel, your food options will probably be different than when you are at home. The best way to tackle this facet of your journey is to stay open to what is being offered. Try new things. You don’t have to love all that is put on your plate. Just realize that if everything were just like home, you might as well not have left.
Unless you are staying months at a location (in which case you might make other arrangements for getting the food you desire), suck it up, don’t complain to those around you (who are probably also adjusting), and move forward. You have eaten thousands of meals in your lifetime. The few that you will be eating on your travel excursion is a small percentage of your eating history.
We have a saying: “Order what you want, and eat what you get. No complaining!”
Learn some survival phrases
If you are going to a foreign country where the language is different from your own, plan ahead. Learn a few survival phrases like “please,” “thank you,” “bathroom,” “where is,” and “how much.” There are lots of translation apps available these days to put on your phone, or take advantage of World Nomads language apps to learn some useful phrases.
Bring a calculator to bargain at markets. Even if you do not speak the native language, all vendors “speak calculator.” Know the currency exchange of where you are to your home currency. Break it down into easy amounts to remember like how much is 10, or 50, or 100 of your currency to theirs so that it makes sense to you and you don’t lose track of what you are spending.
Leave your pets at home
I know, I know, more people are traveling with their pets more than ever before. It’s practically sacrilegious to suggest finding a pet sitter and leaving them at home while you are out visiting foreign locales. And the comfort that pets bring to everyday life is immeasurable; they are an emotional touchstone and dispel loneliness while on the road.
If you want to bring your pet, realize that you will be paying more for your flight, more for your hotel room, and that you may not want to leave your pet for hours at a time in your hotel room while you go gallivanting around your exotic location. You must measure the comfort your animal brings to you against the constrictions on your freedom and wallet. Also you must realize that you may not be able to bring your pet on buses, to certain restaurants, or to social events. Not all countries treat pets as family members and this could be a source of stress to you.
This is an article on easing your travel experience and having an animal accompany you complicates matters.
Limit your needs
There is a difference between want-to-haves and need-to-haves. If you have a bad back or cannot climb stairs, those are needs that must be catered to. If you would prefer a hotter shower, faster internet, or sunnier weather, well, bend a little. Take it in stride. This is all part of the travel experience and being a bit bendable and accepting goes a long way.
If this is your one yearly vacation on which you are spending a fortune, it’s completely understandable that you would want things to be more to your liking. But if this is a journey, not a vacation, then this travel excursion naturally has different parameters to it.
Of course, you can be fussy and ruin your time abroad, or be adjustable and move through it. You’ll have stories to tell when you return home, and that is priceless.
Leave your politics at home
You know the people you argue with at home? Well, those kinds of people travel also. No matter where you are on the political spectrum, if you try to push your platform it can become an uncomfortable situation. You may miss out on a budding friendship if you require that everyone agree with you.
Politics is a blood sport, and if you are looking for ease of travel, it’s best to live and let live. Focus on the quantity of things you have in common, and resist trying to convert someone or calling them names. It doesn’t work at home and it won’t work on the road.
Additionally, if you see a public political rally or procession, get out of the line of fire. These things can become volatile and it’s best to remove yourself from the area.
Be flexible with your schedule
Unless this is a long-dreamed-of vacation where you have a list of museums, archeological sites, concerts, restaurants, and vineyards that you absolutely must visit because they are on your bucket list, be flexible with your schedule.
Take your time doing the small stuff, go slow and let the action come to you. Have a cappuccino at a local cafe, look down the tiny streets and in the individual shops. Make friends with the vendors. Have a free morning to take a walk in your neighborhood, or a free afternoon for a delicious nap. Every hour of your day does not have to be filled up. Perhaps you might run across a two-day cooking or painting class or find out that there is a yoga group meeting twice a week. If you have your schedule completely filled up, you might not be able to allow something wonderful to come in and gift your day.
Keep your travel clothes versatile
Yes, we know that your wardrobe at home is fabulous, fashionable, and attractive. But bringing clothes that require delicate washing, continuous pressing, or would destroy you if they became stained or ripped just isn’t practical. Bringing garments that are easy to wash/dry and are versatile to combine with other outfits will keep you from worrying about something so basic and everyday. Unless you are at the beach with hot and humid weather, prepare to layer your clothing for warmth. Limit the number of shoes you carry (they are so heavy!) and be sure you pack comfortable footwear for walking.
Besides, you could shop for some local clothes. It’s fun and adventurous. No one at home will have them.
If you can, and if time allows, get involved with something local. There might be a parade, a volunteer project, a class, a concert, a walking or tasting tour. Get a sense of where you are and revel in it. Allow it to contribute to your life in some way. Open up. Look beyond tourist hotspots.
All this good stuff, and now for a few words on practicalities.
Wash your hands often. It’s your first line of defense to prevent yourself from getting sick. Different locations have different bacteria, even if the place is clean. If you utilize public transport or if you have shaken hands with someone, be sure to clean your hands often. Carry baby wipes if necessary, or use hand sanitizer.
Put together a small doc box with antibiotics, special creams, sinus pills, some Imodium and the like. Your emergency kit doesn’t have to be huge, but in this way you will have some basic items to bring comfort to you in a foreign location.
Make copies of your passport, birth certificate, travel documents, medications that you take, and an emergency contact number. Carry the list of medications and emergency number in your wallet, and the travel documents separate from your originals.
If you are bringing a computer, Kindle, notebook, or any sort of digital device, don’t keep your passwords and financial account codes saved on them. If you lose your digital device and your codes are easily obtainable, you are definitely in trouble.
Bring a debit card and a charge card from different accounts. If for some reason your account becomes frozen or you lose a card, then you have another source of obtaining money.
Travel by itself is a challenge. Why not make it easier on yourself by taking on some of these ideas and allow your travel to be smoother? Build memories and expand your life.
It’s not about the destination, but the journey.