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Whether you’re living or travelling on the road, backpacking on a shoestring budget, or hopping from one five-star hotel to the next, we all want to make the most out of our travel adventures. Here are a few quick tips to help you make the most out of your next excursion and truly experience the destinations you travel to.
Unless you have hyperthymesia (highly superior autobiographical memory), our memories fade with time, so it’s good to have ways to look back and remember the highs and lows of travel experiences, like journaling or taking a daily picture or video. My favourite way to document my travels is through journaling. Writing a little bit about every day not only allows you to remember the things you did or people you met, but it also lets you remember your mindset at the time and the way you felt throughout those experiences. I wrote every day when we backpacked Southeast Asia, and getting to read my inner-dialogue while recounting each day’s adventures is truly entertaining. We also took a selfie every day:
When you know the name of a country, city, or landmark off the top of your head, it usually means that a lot of other people know it too. Of course there are well-known places that you should visit if you have the opportunity: see the Eiffel Tower if you’re in Paris, see the Grand Canyon if you’re in Arizona, watch the sunrise or set at Ankor Wat if you’re in Cambodia. But getting off that beaten path and exploring places that are completely unknown to you allows you to have new, unique experiences without any preconceived judgments.
Travel at whatever pace seems comfortable for you and plan your travels loosely. When you make a day-by-day itinerary, your journey can feel rushed and you can miss out on exciting, unexpected opportunities. Take your time and allow for spontaneity! If you find that you like a certain place, give yourself the chance to stay as long as you’d like.
We thought we would stay in Koh Chang, Thailand for a couple days and ended up staying an entire week.
We stayed outside Joshua Tree NP for three weeks.
Engines break down, tires go flat, and flights get delayed or cancelled. There’s really no way to predict these things, but you can mentally and emotionally prepare yourself to deal with these situations. You can mentally prepare by having the right knowledge and backup plans: know how to change a tire, have roadside assistance or AAA, buy travel insurance, keep cash on you, etc. You can emotionally prepare by just accepting that life doesn’t always follow your itinerary and obstacles will inevitably arise. Being able to handle and even enjoy setbacks will allow you to travel without stress or fear.
Sometimes you get food poisoning on Christmas Eve and can only eat bread and naan.
Sometimes you get to ride for nine hrs. with 32 people in a van that seats 25 at max capacity.
Sometimes people steal your bag with your passport, credit cards, and camera from between your feet, and you and five wonderful Cambodians have to chase that person down to get it back (he panicked and ditched it in an alley, no one was hurt).
For every horrifying story you hear about humanity, there are probably a thousand stories about helpful, generous, kind, normal human beings that are in this world. You should always be concerned with safety and be careful about the situations you put yourself in, but don’t let it keep you from meeting new people and interacting with others. People often email or message us offering us a place to park and a hot shower at their homes. People have told us that they would feel uncomfortable showering at a stranger’s house or sleeping in their driveway, but we have made so many great connections and new friends this way. Most people are good, so don’t be afraid to accept generous offers from the kind humans who reach out to you.
Dan and Stacy let us park at their apartment complex while we were in Denver and brought us to beautiful places and delicious pizza buffets. @maillets_go_see_the_world
If you’re on the road, backpacking, or doing any kind of travelling and you hit it off with another traveller, team up and explore together! New people lead to new experiences, new places, new knowledge, and new friends.
We travelled with Barbara and Charles for a couple of weeks in Thailand. We played a lot of pool, taught each other the best drinking games of our countries, and even got tattoos together (not matching).
I joke that Tom became our “third arm” and Snoop’s uncle because of how much time the three of us spent together. We were all about Thai food, music, movie nights, and card games.
The best way to experience a new place is through the lives of the locals. Go out of your way to interact with them and show interest in their lives and stories. They can show you places unseen by tourists, bring you to local hot spots, and teach you about their culture and families.
Being hustled by locals in Lombok.
We spent Thanksgiving with this generous Indonesian family.
Rinto and Sujati didn’t know much English, but we managed to talk and laugh the whole three hours we rode the train together.
We met Thai farmers who invited us to help harvest rice for a day.
In many occasions, sticking to a budget is important for long-term travelling and just travelling in general. While there are many ways to travel simply and inexpensively, some experiences cost money and you shouldn’t feel guilty for straying from your strict budget. Spend a little extra cash to check out local breweries, museums, restaurants, and festivals. It’s all about the experience!
Definitely pay to see the Kecak dance in Indonesia.
Go ahead, splurge on that banh mi sandwich that Anthony Bourdain has eaten. (Then promptly choke on a piece of its delicious cilantro).
Everyone travels differently, so do what works best for you. These tips are based on things that we’ve experienced while travelling both nationally and internationally, and we hope they help you make the most out of your adventures!
So where do you plan on travelling to? Where have you been? What are some other helpful travel tips? We would love to hear about your adventures and what you have learned from them!