“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
You’ve probably seen this little quote a hundred times by now — on Pinterest, Facebook, or even printed on keychains and mugs. We all know that travel is an enriching experience, and well worth the cost. Going abroad changes us for the better. It opens our eyes, deepens our understanding, and awakens our compassion for people. But those little, life-defining moments are easy to miss if you’re not careful. An overloaded schedule or the fear of trying something new can prevent you from getting the fullest experience possible.
8 ways to get the most out of your trip
1. Prepare for it
Preparing for a trip is much more than making reservations and writing a packing list. Learn a little about the culture, religion, and history before you go. Learn some keywords and phrases so you can chat with the locals. Visiting a destination with a basic understanding of the culture will set you up for a better experience while you are there.
2. Don’t overpack
Too much stuff will slow you down and distract you from your experience. Take travel-sized toiletries and limit your accessories. Pick one color scheme for your wardrobe so you can make multiple outfits from a few items. Find ways to lighten your luggage and leave things at home that you can live without. This will not only simplify your morning routine but help prevent you from losing important things along the way.
3. Limit technology
Yes, take lots of pictures! But don’t spend your entire trip hiding behind a lens. Take a few shots at each stop and then put the camera away and take some mental pictures. If your friends and family are anxiously awaiting updates from your trip, feel free to post a few too. However, if you’re going to upload your entire photo album to Facebook, wait until you get home to do it. Avoid mindless browsing and lengthy conversations with people at home. Focus on what’s right in front of you and you may find yourself loving the feeling of being unplugged.
4. Wake up early
You’ll miss a lot of incredible moments if you sleep in every day of your trip. Get up and get out. Don’t miss seeing a sunrise on the other side of the world. Grab breakfast from a nearby cafe and observe how the locals start their day. Enjoy the slower side of the city before it’s crawling with tourists. You won’t regret it!
5. Don’t be shy
Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger. You’re probably going to make mistakes and sound like a tourist. It’s fine! As long as you are kind, friendly, and respectfully curious, you will find most locals will be delighted to help you get around or understand a bit more about their culture.
6. Keep your eyes open
Take some time to just sit and people-watch. If you pay attention at the right time, you will learn as much from a moment of quiet observation as you will from a guided tour. The best part? It’s free! Whether you’re traveling across the country on a train, waiting in line, or sitting on a park bench, every moment is a wonderful time to soak up your surroundings.
7. Get a “little lost”
It’s ok to have a plan in place, but don’t be afraid to ditch the itinerary if something catches your attention. Wander aimlessly. Try the tiny, local restaurant. Don’t be in such a rush to get to the next thing. Getting lost doesn’t mean you let go of your common sense. There is a difference between taking a detour and doing something foolish (like exploring an ominous back alley at night). Pair your good judgment with an adventurous spirit and you’ll have a trip you’ll never forget.
8. Write things down
You’ll be surprised by how fast the little memories fade after your trip. Write down your thoughts and experiences each night before you go to bed. Not much of a writer? You don’t have to write a novel. Get down a few bullet points like, “had my first of authentic Thai food today – it was nothing like back home!” You’ll love going over your notes later on!