We’ve seen the many “things I would tell my (insert X reminiscent age here) self” articles and blog posts. They are wonderful and resonate well with all of us, but sometimes I’m inclined to wonder – are we actually telling these things to the younger ones? While Hindsight is 20/20, can any 18 year old really know everything, despite all of the advice he or she is given? Maybe so, but it is not necessarily the advice itself, but rather who is giving the advice.
My 21 year old self could have used plenty of advice on travel from people who were not complete naysayers about it. When I was at hostels, I admit I was always felt oohed and aahed by the people I met, who for instance, carried a tent with them incase no hostel or hotel was around (or mostly if they wanted to travel budget). I almost felt like a sissy after they told me their adventures and their abilities to rough it out. However, over time I came to understand that everyone’s experiences and enjoyment of traveling is different. While I enjoy being daring, I still like just being a foodie. While I could be out seeing breathtaking sights, sometimes sitting at a cafe with strangers and locals were more unforgettable moments for me.
For today’s post, rather than living in a Hindsight is 20/20 or How My Life Could Have Been Different world, I just want to give some advice to people taking major travels for their first time, regardless of age.
1.) Your travels are yours. Don’t let anybody tell you that you are too much of a “princess” just because you enjoy showering rather than camping or may not want to go mountain climbing. Conversely, do not feel you have to avoid the rough-out travel you want to try just because your friends might not be into that. Be daring and veer off on your own sometimes. It’s your experience of the place, and nobody else’s.
2.) While safety is always priority, do not get so hung up on it that you do not enjoy a place alone. I love having travel buddies and people to be around because I am a people person, but once in a while, it is nice to be put out there on my own. If there’s something you are itching to do and can’t find anyone willing to go, it is sad to think that you didn’t do it just because nobody else did. When you walk in with a preconceived notion that you cannot go somewhere because you do not have anyone to go with – you are only creating a barrier that’s not there.
3.) Don’t try to do everything. If I knew this, perhaps I would not have been as stressed when I traveled. It is easy to get caught up in this mentality because one hears so many wonderful stories from so many different places, but be realistic. You may have tons of sites and photo opportunities, but let yourself sometimes be drawn to the idea of finding out how much you actually enjoy a place and staying an extra few days rather than trying to hit EVERY site. You may find some places are only worth half a day, while others are worth weeks.
4.) Ask around. While guidebooks and website reviews are great, do not base your traveling plans simply on those. I plan to finally give couchsurf, for example, a try while in India. Will let you know how it goes, but so far I’ve heard some awesome things.
5.) Make even the slightest bit of effort with language. Nobody is saying that you will go to a country fully knowing a language that is not your own, but even learning the basics – from numbers to bathroom to hello, thank you and goodbye to other important words can go a long way. It shows a sense of initiative, and the truth is, many locals appreciate it. No doubt there will always be people in markets that raise prices and cab drivers that will make your head boil sometimes, and that is where lack of knowledge of language makes things tricky. Nevertheless, it really is an experience when trying to communicate some of your most basic needs. Maybe that’s a euphemism. It’s a challenge.
Anyway, readers, happy Monday from Kerala. I am here a few days before heading to Lucknow. I should have some blog stuff going sometime this week on my own blog that I have set aside as my “travel blog”.