It may sound like spouting some rules to live by when traveling takes the fun out of your potential adventures. That would be a wrong assumption to make though. Rules you set yourself - for anything - shouldn’t be dogmatic. Having a set of rules keeps you in control, focused and enables you to extract every last bit of benefit and enjoyment out of what you’re doing, but you also need to allow flexibility to expand the rule or narrow it when a situation calls for it. Rules to live by when traveling are, essentially, a set of personal standards that will hold you in good stead wherever your destination.
Of all the rules to live by when traveling, the most important is to be respectful towards the people and the environment at your destination. Just because you do things a certain way back home doesn’t mean that if someone else does things differently, he or she is wrong, uneducated or backward. A little respect shown towards the people you meet will go a long way and your travel experience will be so much more rewarding. At the same time, however, if there are customs that you don’t agree with, you don’t have to join in simply because you’re in the proverbial Rome. For example, just because local people may be throwing their trash out of the bus window doesn’t mean that it’s okay for you to do that too. Be mindful of the impact your presence has not only on the local community but also on the environment. And remember to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of becoming so comfortable that you don’t want to do anything other than lying in your hotel room watching TV or lazing in a hammock. Naturally there are times when these are perfect ways to spend part of your day, especially when you need to give your body a rest. However, make some effort to get up and about every day, even if it’s just to walk a couple of blocks to the local market. You’ll get to experience life at your destination and make the most of your time during your trip.
Sometimes you may find that perfect destination where you want to spend some time and even want to stay forever. There is nothing wrong with it, as long as you don’t lose your sense of adventure. After all, one of the main reasons for traveling is to experience new places, new people, new things. Even if you decide to stay for the long term, try to expand your horizons all the time, whether it’s by learning something new or making new friends.
Traveling can be a very lonely experience if you don’t make an effort to communicate with others. Especially, solo travelers may find that if they don’t make the first move, they may never talk to anybody other than the person at the reception desk. Even if you have a traveling companion, however, make it one of your travel rules to talk to strangers. It’s a great way to meet new people, learn about the local area and to practice a different language. Don’t be scared to strike up conversations or to ask for help and advice when you need it. You’ll find that after your trip, your new-found confidence in face-to-face conversation, even if it’s in the form of hand gestures, will open doors for you at home too.
Many people are so focused on doing as much as they can during the journey that they neglect their mind or soul. However, you need to take some time to regroup your thoughts if you don’t want to become overwhelmed by all the new experiences. Set aside some time to meditate in whatever form works for you, even if it’s just to sit on a rock and watch the sunset. Have a good book handy so you can read and stimulate your brain while at the same time helping you to relax.
One of the great laws of traveling is that something will go wrong because of a silly mistake sooner or later. You may miss a bus, get food poisoning or lose your money, for instance. When something goes wrong because of a mistake you’ve made, own up to it. Blaming others for everything that doesn’t go according to plan will only cause frustration and conflict. Instead, think about how your actions may have contributed to or caused the problem and then find ways to rectify the situation. Taking responsibility will not only help you to learn from your experiences but will also earn you the respect of others.
The laws of karma apply at all times, including during your travels. You’re getting an incredible experience and the least you can do is to give back to the world that has made that possible. This doesn’t mean that you have to go volunteer at a local project or sponsor an orphan, although these are wonderful ways to show your appreciation. You can give back in many ways that may seem insignificant to you but will make a huge difference to someone else’s day. Compliment a stranger, help out a fellow traveler with a meal or transport fare, pet a street dog … small acts of kindness will help to make the world a better place for everyone in it, including you.
As you can see, the rules to live by aren’t onerous. They enhance your experience, not restrict it. Do you agree?
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