You’ve booked a trip, you’re all excited and raring to go, but how do you make sure it’s going to be an amazing travel experience? Even if you’ve booked an all-inclusive trip and expect to spend many hours by the pool getting a tan, you can still enrich your vacation in a few effortless ways, but if you’ve booked something more of a culture fest in a new country, you can really immerse yourself in the joys of the new and unknown to achieve a truly amazing travel experience.
1. Mix with the Locals
One of the best ways to have an amazing travel experience is by mixing with the locals. Hunt down all their favorite watering holes, start up a conversation, ask them about their culture and the area – you will get way more out of your trip by hanging back from the crowds than keeping your nose stuck in a travel guide.
2. Learn the Lingo
Nelson Mandela famously said in his inauguration speech that the greatest way for people to contribute to nation building in South Africa and around the world is for people to learn each other’s languages. And there is no greater compliment to a culture or foreigner than a visitor making the effort to learn their local lingo. Read up a bit before you go, listen and ask for help, the locals will be delighted to help you.
3. Off the Beaten Track
Publications like Lonely Planet are fantastic for providing visitors with incredible resources that will make for an unforgettable travel experience. They give you the chance to see the biggies – and give you directions to hidden away gems that are far off the beaten track. Tucked away villages, medieval hideaways, historic farming towns – all of these places have an abundance of charm and fascination – take the time to check them out.
4. The Road Less Traveled
Everybody has been to London, Paris and Singapore, so why not follow the road less travelled and pick a magical place that is not the top of the tourist’s hot list just yet? Not too long ago Croatia was one of those gems – and now it’s just as hot as Ibiza. Corsica, Zanzibar, Myanmar, and Cambodia are just some of the most incredible untouched, almost completely forgotten gems out there – it is when you don’t follow the crowd that you end up having the most magical travel experience yet.
5. The Local Food
You didn’t fly halfway around the world to eat a burger at McDonald’s – get down with the local cuisine and be prepared to leave your diet at home. Asia is an extra special culinary adventure and the wild game and local dishes in Africa will have you jotting down the recipes in no time. What better way to have a memorable holiday experience than by eating different dishes all over the world?
6. Low Season Travel
One of the best ways to have a seriously good holiday experience is to head out to places just after high season. The prices will have just dropped, you won’t have to queue for all the sights, the weather will still be great and you will be able to stay in much nicer accommodation for a fraction of the price. Watch out for school holidays too, as even though it might be in the middle of what is considered low season, resorts up their prices to take advantage of mid-season school holiday periods.
7. Know the Local Customs
Make sure that you take the time to read up a bit beforehand about the local customs that are practised in the host country you are visiting. Frolicking around in hot pants and a crop top is going to be as much of an insult in Paris as it is in many places in Asia. Many religious sites require everyone to dress respectfully and this includes covering shoulders, so packing in a pashmina or two will go a long way. Knowing how to initiate a conversation with a stranger will also go a long way.
8. Behave Yourself
Just because you are on holiday and away from home doesn’t automatically mean you are a law unto yourself. Excessive alcohol consumption, rowdy behavior in public, taking drugs or driving a vehicle under the influence should not suddenly become ok just because you are not at home. Apart from the serious danger in drunk driving and such, your host countries may have seriously severe penalties for your behavior and you will not be getting the best travel experience if you are suddenly facing jail time.
Planning and preparation are just as important as choosing the destination if you’re going to have the best travel experience. Understanding a little about where you are going is better than plunging straight into the unknown even if you have an insatiable thirst for adventure. Have you had an amazing travel experience? We’d love to hear about it.