I’ve been thinking a lot about traveling lately, in preparation for my upcoming adventure. I’ve now been on four overseas trips—not a record by any means, but most people I meet seem to think that’s a lot (people of my own generation, a little less so). Each trip is a learning experience of course, regarding the area’s customs, landscape, history, and general feeling. But I also seem to learn a little more about travel itself with each new adventure. So here are some things I’ve learned about traveling, some new rules I have come to follow.
Full disclosure: most of these were discovered in cahoots (love that word!) with my co-adventurers Jaima and Gordon.
1. Always know how to say “thank you” wherever you are, even if it is the only word you know. This will earn you smiles from the locals (priceless!) and brighten your day, too.
2. It’s okay to eat dinner in your room every now and then. We had some wonderful restaurant meals in Japan, but some of our favorite food memories from the trip are the dinner sets we bought at the local 7-11 and took home to the guesthouse to eat. This kind of meal is just as ‘authentic’ as something you would buy at a fancy restaurant or from street vendor. It saves money, time, and energy too.
3. Upon arriving at your far-flung destination, I have found it is well worth the money to splurge on a taxi to the hotel rather than brave the local transit system. There is plenty of time to explore your transit options later when you are rested from the flight and more alert. You will feel a lot better about the new place if you don’t spend your first full hour there lugging your suitcase up and down flights of subway stairs and then around several city blocks searching for your hotel.
4. Go to the tourist office. I know, I know. You are protesting, “but that’s so tourist-y!” It is touristy. But the people who work in the tourist office really know what they are talking about. They know the city better than you do, better than your friend does, better than the guidebook does. They can tell you the best ways to get around, the best sights to see. Plus, they will give you free city maps and transit maps. It’s one moment of touristyness (not a word) that you won’t regret.
What about you, dear mysterious readers? What are your own travel dos and don’ts?