1) Travel Smart
This applies for first time travelers, backpackers, 5-star hotel stayers and avid travelers. Always be aware of your surroundings, theft frequency, known tourist scams, and the political stability of the area. Have fun but make sure you know how to get back to your hostel or hotel. Traveling and partying in foreign places is definitely a lot of fun but things can change quickly!
2) Pack Lots of Layers
So you’re traveling through Europe in the summer and don’t think you need anything but shorts and a t shirt? The best thing to do is to pack clothes that can layer and keep you warm but also keep you cool. Trains, airplanes, airports and hostels can go from really chilly at night to really hot – so be prepared for all climates. And socks – don’t forget lots of socks.
3) Journal Everything
Grab a Moleskine Notebook and carry it with you everywhere. Sketch, take notes, write, jot, record your expenses, Haiku, write a song, a poem or a book – or write down the name and contact info of that old man you met in the café who made you change your career in just one conversation. Traveling can open your eyes but don’t forget to capture the moment for all it’s worth!
4) Use Your Camera Wisely
In the spirit of “capturing the moment,” travelers and photographers have become on in the same. But – I argue that it’s important to “use your camera wisely.” You may want to take a picture of every street, every stone and every fallen column at the Acropolis – and that’s fine. Just don’t let your wanting to capture the moment – keep you from enjoying the moment right then and there.
5) Be Fearless – Try Anything and Everything At Least Once
Okay, so maybe eating sheep intestines cooked in a stomach – isn’t really your thing. Maybe you’d rather wear your sneakers than typical leather sandals. No matter what your preference, there’s no better time or place to try something new than when you’re traveling. From customs and rituals to cultural garbs to quirky cultural foods – try it at least once – and if you’re not a fan, then at least you can say you gave it a shot.
6) Plan & Research – But Not Too Much!
We’re not trying to kill your spontaneous spirit – but you actually really do get more out of your travels when you have at least some idea of where you’re going and what you can see, try, or do when you’re there. So plan a rough schedule, learn about the destinations and sights – or bring a guidebook with you that you can read while you’re there. Stay flexible and play it by ear once in a while – that’s when real adventures begin!
7) Take Your Time
When you plan your holidays, be sure to give yourself a little rest. There’s no point stressing yourself to wake up and line up early in the morning to get into museums if it will give you more anxiety than peace and relaxation! Take your time – sip a coffee in a café and watch people walk by. Step back from the busyness of a tourist and enjoy your surroundings while you can.
8) Keep Friends + Family Informed
Don’t spend an hour each day in the internet café writing extensive blog posts of your whereabouts, where you went and what you did. Make quick posts, update your status on Facebook, make a new tweet on Twitter or send off a quick email to let people know where you are, where you’re staying and if there’s an emergency, how to reach you.
9) Always Carry a Map
When you travel, it’s time to put away your pride – and carry a map. You don’t have to take it out – just bring it with you so that you can find your way around and if you get lost, you’ll be glad you had it. If you’re keen, you can mark the path you walked to trace it later or just to remember where you’ve been! Keep a subway map and schedule with you, too!
10) Don’t Freak Out
There’s always a solution. Ok, so you missed your train by 2 minutes – another one will come (even if it’s tomorrow!). Missing flights, stolen passports or extortion by the police will resolve itself. The important thing is that you’re not hurt and safe. Relax and come up with a concrete solution to getting to your next destination or contacting your embassy, in the case of a lost passport. The worst thing you can do is freak out!