Ignorance is NOT bliss
Whether it is for the perfect flight or to get to know a place you are visiting, you can find anything and everything (almost) online when you spend a little extra time researching. Information from travel blogs, websites, and travel forums can be immensely helpful. There are most certainly times when I’ve shown up in an unknown city and been able to find my way. Or met a stranger who has helped (sometimes with even a place to sleep!) When I say “research” I mean read things about the places you go. Not only at times have I been shown respect by locals due to my lack of ignorance but SEVERAL times I have saved money knowing about my surroundings. In Penang, my friend, Stephanie, and I avoided getting ripped off because I knew of other travel options. I did not have to argue with the guy because I KNEW there was a better way.
- Learn a little bit of the language
I think this is one of the most important and useful tips. Of course you do not have to be fluent to be polite. But knowing the basics, “please,” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry” will take you a LONG way.
- Pack light
If you think you’ve packed light, repack 3 more times. This is something that gets better with practice. Remember that no matter where you go, you will have to carry everything with you. One of the most difficult things is arriving to a new place and having a ton of luggage to deal with. This means you have to break your back carrying it around, exert more energy by keeping an eye on all your stuff, and it just takes the fun out of everything. One of the most important lessons I learned is that it is OKAY to buy things when you arrive to your destination. It really is. Yes, there is eye contact solution all over the world. Yes, you will find toothpaste, underwear, and socks!
- Be aware
Have I met people on the street? Have I stayed in a strangers house? Have I taken rides home with people I didn’t know? Umm….well, yes. Look, we all have internal instincts. The key is balancing what we know and what we think we know. I learned that being kind gets you far. I learned that sometimes being a bitch can protect you. Be aware but don’t be afraid. It’s the little things and if you do your RESEARCH you can know what to expect.