A lot of people travel, yes. But not a lot of people are good travelers. So what does it take to make a person well versed in the art of traveling? Or how do you become a better traveler? Well, in my personal opinion, these are a few things that you must do, before and during your journey around the world.
Some find this process tedious, but I love doing research on new destinations and can spend hours online scouring on all the details. You need to at least cover a few things when doing your research like activities that you might want to do, places you want to visit and one of the most important thing is basic understanding of the locals’ culture. For example, while kissing a woman on the cheeks is an acceptable way of greeting in France, it should always be avoided if you are in the Middle East or Asian countries. You should always bring up your level of awareness as even something as simple as hand gestures can be considered as rude in some places.
God bless technology. There are apps for almost everything these days. Assuming you have a smart phone with mobile data connectivity, make sure you arm yourself with at least these 3 basic apps: Google map, Tripadvisor and Foursquare. These apps are indispensable for searching the latest and hottest spot in your travel destination. Foursquare and Tripadvisor will give you first hand accounts of places by other travelers that you might want to check out. Especially handy when you are looking for a restaurant with good reviews. All you have to do then is just let Google map show you the way.
Don’t be shy and talk to the locals. Most locals would be very happy and proud to lend a helping hand and point you to the right direction. Especially if you are looking for an obscure thing or place, then the best way to go is ask a local. Not only would they be able to share their own experience with you, they might even divulge you with some local tricks of the trade. You might even discover something off the beaten track.
No use traveling thousands of miles if you’re still going to eat the same food and drinks that you usually eat every day. Even if you do have a queasy stomach, please do take some time and experience the local dishes. I like to divide my dining experience into two: the restaurants and the local food peddlers (usually available at the markets). Restaurants are based on local reviews but the food peddlers require a bit of exploring, which is a fun thing to do.
Yup, just step out of your hotel and walk around. You’ll be amazed at what’s not on the map sometimes. There will be a lot of local shops that are too small to be on the map, but these are usually the best places to find souvenirs and trinkets. Of course as a precaution, it is always preferable for you to get lost with a traveling partner or companion. And once you really have no idea where you are, just switch on your GPS and google your way back to your hotel. It should also be noted that getting lost does not apply if you are visiting a primary jungle or places with low human habitation.