A while back I posted three tips for traveling the world. Today I’m going to introduce four more tips. And of course, I am always interested in hearing about even more tips for making traveling the globe more enjoyable; let me know if you have any!
Tip 4: Travel light
When you’re traveling, try not to take a lot of stuff with you. Sure, you want underwear and a few pairs of clothes, but it’s no fun lugging around huge suitcases, and in fact it can get very expensive to take multiple bags on an airline. Take only those things you need.
When my wife and I backpacked around western and eastern Europe some years ago we didn’t take that much stuff – only what could fit into two decent-sized backpacks. I have memories of us washing our dirty clothes in the bathtub of a hotel and then hanging the wet clothes all around the room to dry out! From time to time we must have looked quite comical with our wrinkled jeans and air-dried shirts, but trust me, it was much nicer to travel with fewer clothes in our packs.
Here’s another reason to pack light – when you’re traveling, you may find new clothes or souvenirs that you want to buy and take home with you. You’re going to want somewhere to pack these belongings for your journey back home! It’s no fun carrying a big plastic bag full of souvenirs onto an airplane as a carry-on.
Tip 5: Learn some of the local language
I studied Mandarin Chinese in graduate school; I wouldn’t say I’m fluent in the language, but I can converse on a limited number of topics. A few years ago I got to use the language in Taiwan, the first time I ever traveled to a Chinese language-speaking country. I had a great time, and managed to converse with people very different from myself; people that I would never have had the chance to meet if I didn’t speak any Chinese, as they themselves did not understand English.
People are often honored when you attempt to learn their language. Even a few poorly spoken phrases can impress. Unfortunately, much of the world is under the impression that English speakers care only about their own language and culture, and expect foreigners to also understand and speak English fluently. Demonstrating that you as an English speaker are interested in a language and culture other than your own is a powerful message to send.
Tip 6: Get your family involved
A lot of people will leave their kids behind when they go on vacation – which is great for some vacations, like romantic getaways, strenuous or dangerous cross-country treks, or journeys of self discovery. But for other vacations, why not get your kids involved – they may be young, but they’ll learn a great deal from the adventures you and your family go on.
Our own children have experienced much in their few years; they’ve become inquisitive, interested in other languages and cultures, and understanding of different people. I’m hoping that the experiences they have today will serve them well in their later years, and will help them to grow into kind and understanding people who don’t stand for racism or act with prejudice toward others.
Tip 7: Try to appreciate it – no matter what it is
At times I’ve been places I haven’t enjoyed, doing things I didn’t really feel like doing. If you find yourself in this situation, go ahead and do those things anyway, and treat them as a learning experience. Take what you can from the moments you experience, even if they aren’t what you were hoping for or expecting.
Quite a few years back and friend and I did some community service at a Biogas plant in Denmark. We literally didn’t know what we were signing up for (the sign read “Bio Factory”) but as soon as we arrived at the plant we quickly learned that we were going to be spending the day working at a factory that turns cow manure into energy!
Once we got over the smell (well, to be honest we never quite got over the smell) the two of us had a great time finding out how manure and other waste can be turned into energy, learning about the lives of the Danish employees at the site, and many other memorable moments. It’s a day that I’ll never forget – and I certainly will never forget the smell (no matter how hard I try)!
Traveling vs. Travelling
As a side note, you may be wondering… which is the correct spelling of the word, traveling or travelling?
Traveling, with one L, is the spelling most commonly used in the United States. In the United Kingdom and the former British colonies (Canada, Australia, etc) travelling, with two Ls, is more often used. In fact, I find both methods are commonly found in both the United States and in the Commonwealth countries. In my opinion the most correct form of the two is traveling; this is because the ‘e’ is not accented, and therefore the consonant following the ‘e’ does not, as a rule, need to be doubled.