Travel is not about planning your every step. It is about adventure and discovery. That doesn’t mean, however, you should go without a clue as to what you are heading in to. Not only is this an easy way to miss the best sights and experiences, but it can also land you in a lot of trouble. Cultural norms and even laws are not the same around the world, after all, and not being familiar with these differences can turn a trip of a lifetime into a nightmare before you can realise what is going on.
Planning for a trip requires a delicate balance. The best way to think of it is to plan for spontaneity. You don’t want to go without any planning at all, but you also don’t want to plan so much that you lose out on the thrill of discovery. Finding this balance requires a lot of reading, prep, and letting go. You won’t be able to go and see everything, and in most cases, you won’t want to.
Picking Your Destination
The first step to planning a trip, of course, is to pick the destination. For most, you will already have a destination in mind, but it should be noted that there are many lesser-known destinations that can be terrific to visit as well. In fact, choosing these lesser-known destinations can help you have a more authentic experience.
Lesser known destinations can either be a few miles away or another city entirely. For instance, there are many things to do in Branson MO that could make it the perfect destination for your next trip. Similarly, there are lesser-known natural wonders than just what you see in social media all the time.
Social media has skewered our perception of the world. One of the ways it has done this is by making certain destinations overly popular. This, in turn, can cheapen the experience. The last thing that you want to do is to go on a tour through a beautiful and ancient city just so that a tour guide can take you around and show you where to take famous photographs. Those photographs have already been taken and, chances are, they have been taken better than you can. Instead of following the herd, find your own path, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to be more open to your destinations.
Learn About the History and Culture
The first reason you should read up on the history and the culture of a destination is so that you can be mindful and respectful in your host country. You should do this so that you can be respectful and polite to those who live there, rather than accidentally saying something you shouldn’t or worse, doing something you shouldn’t. Not being mindful of cultural practices and, more importantly, laws can get you in a lot of trouble.
Even a country that seems similar to your home can have a difference that could leave you with a ticket or even jail time. In Canada, for instance, it is illegal to jaywalk and crossing the street at places without a designated crosswalk can get you a ticket.
These small cultural differences can help you be respectful and safe wherever you go. Don’t just assume that the country you are going to visit is the same as yours. In fact, the only time you shouldn’t know a little about the culture and history of your destination is if you are visiting another city or region in your own home.
Finding Places to Go
Finding places to visit will vary entirely on what you want out of the trip. If you want a resort, getting a comprehensive package can be all that you need to do. If you are a foodie and want to try all the different flavours there are abroad; your trip will be different if your priority is shopping, and so on. Regardless of what you want to do on your trip, finding things to do will be similar.Generally speaking, local magazines and travel sites that place emphasis on providing up-to-date news on events, things to do, and things to see are your best bet. These magazines are geared towards locals, but they can mean you can get a local’s experience when you visit.
Other ways to find things to do include travel guides, top ten lists, travel blogs and even using the explore feature on social media.
Preparing Before You Go
There are a few things you should do before you go. The first is find out if there is any special public transportation pass you can get that can make your journeys cheaper. In London, this would be the Oyster, for instance. The second is where you can get a SIM card for that country. Obviously, if you are visiting Europe, you don’t need a new one (for the time being), but if you are travelling abroad, it can be a lifesaver. In most cases, you should be able to pick up a local SIM from the airport, so watch out for vending machines or information desks who can help you out.
Other things you should do before you go is to buy travel insurance. This can be vital if you are visiting a place like the United States, where their privatised healthcare can be very unforgiving for even the smallest of medical emergencies. Without health insurance, for instance, going into the ER for an ear infection can leave you with a bill for over a thousand USD. Avoid this and get adequate travel insurance that will cover any medical costs should you need them, among others like lost or stolen luggage.
Planning is half the fun of any trip. The more effort you put into learning about your destination and finding the secret places that most tourists don’t get to, the more special your trip will be. Keep having fun, both before and on your trip, and you’ll make the most of the experience.