A – Ask for advice
Turning to others for their personal experiences and advice is a great addition to your research and planning for trips. You learn the do’s and don’ts that the books and websites don’t cover, plus you’ll get better insight on the local hotspots and attractions. Essentially, you should check out the rest of my blog! 😉
B – Buy local
Going to the markets, hitting the food stands, and bargaining for handmade souvenirs give you a taste of the different types of food in the area and unique interactions with the local people and culture.
C – Capture everything on camera
One of the biggest mistakes I made during my first few trips was not taking enough pictures of the little things—my hostel room, the crowded streets nearby, food I ate, interesting people I met, etc. Stop for a moment and snap a pic of the places and moments that may fade in your memory over time.
D – Do good deeds
No matter where you go, there’s always a chance to do good deeds and help people. In South Africa I worked with the community and environment by planting trees with school children. In Morocco I gathered all my used water bottles and gave them to a nomadic Berber family as they fill those with milk from their cows (this is the country’s main source of milk). There are so many unique ways to give back and it’s an amazing feeling when you contribute to the places you visit.
E – Elevate higher
Climb, climb, climb. Whether it’s to the top of a mountain, building, lighthouse, etc., just do it! I constantly tell people how hard some of my hikes were or how annoying the flights of stairs were, but the view was always worth it. Yes, the climb may take your breath away, but so will the view.
F – Find foodie spots
Turn to the foodies on social media to find the hot spots to eat. A book or website may suggest plenty of places to eat, but foodies are going to pinpoint those lesser known places, and along with that, probably provide an appetizing photo of the best item on the menu.
G – Greet people, especially in their language
Hi, hello, good day, howzit? Doesn’t matter how you say it as long as you say it. You will be shocked with how friendly and welcoming people are in different areas of the world. It’s so easy and simple to say hello! On top of that, it’s fun to try out the local language and greet people in their native tongue.
H – Hold onto some local currency
I always keep currency from the places I visit. When my trip’s end is near, I plan out the rest of my spending so I have both paper currency and coins to bring back home with me. It’s one of the coolest souvenirs to have. The currency usually features leaders, history, and culture in its design which is a beautiful memento to add to your collection of memories.
I – Interact with animals
Animals are a huge driver for me to visit certain places. They make an extremely important and memorable impact on you. Whether you go on safari somewhere in Africa or snorkeling with sea creatures in a tropical paradise, I assure you that you’ll see the world from an entirely different perspective.
J – Jam to some local music
Find a bar with a local band jamming out or stick around on that busy street where performers are playing unique tunes. One of my favorite things about music is how it can bring all different people together. It’s simply one of the best connections you make. Plus, it’s just fun!
K – Kick it into high gear, then kick back and relax
On any trip, you must do both of these extremes – go hard, but relax hard too. Find an extremely adventurous thing to do, maybe quading or zip lining, but after that crash hard at the spa or beach.
L – Leave your fears behind
Don’t be scared! Be cautious, but don’t be scared. This is the time to face your fears head on. Go bungy jumping or shark cage diving. Do something bold and daring. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
M – Make new friends
It’s not always the easiest thing to do, especially in a foreign-speaking country, but put yourself out there, make conversation, and befriend those around you. People are more friendly and more welcoming than you think and the connections you end up making will be life-changing.
N – Notice things and make mental notes
Take the time to really observe things. Don’t just walk on by or rush things or half listen to people showing you around. Stop and make mental notes. Let things sink in. It only takes ten seconds and your memories will thank you.
O – Open your mind to different things
Traveling will always open heart and mind, but it works even better going into it with open-mindedness. Know that other places are strange and different. Some places will feel like home to you and others may feel incredibly weird to you. Embrace it either way and take in those surroundings as much as you can.
P – Plan to not plan
Some people have every minute of their travel itinerary planned, but I believe it’s necessary to add in time for the unplanned. Leave a morning or afternoon free to just lounge around or go out and wander. Play it by ear one evening and get dinner and drinks at a place you just happen to stumble upon. Sometimes you just need to go with the flow to find the things that’ll surprise you.
Q – Question things
Whether you need to question things for your safety and comfort or to find out more from tour guides and friends about the area, don’t be afraid speak up. Don’t let yourself become uncomfortable or miss out on learnings because you were intimidated to ask things. Question everything, it’s okay!
R – Remind yourself to enjoy each moment and be grateful
This is so essential. With travel there are plenty of bumps in the road, but you need to remain grateful for the opportunity in itself. Not everyone can travel. If your flight is delayed or your camera wasn’t working at the right moment, don’t let it strip you of how lucky you are to be there. On top of that, remember to enjoy each moment. It really goes by so fast. Blink and you’ll miss it.
S – Stay in an Airbnb or hostel
Hotels are great, and sometimes they are the best option for cost, convenience, and comfort, but hostels and Airbnbs have their perks too. A hostel gives you the best opportunity to meet and explore with other people and staying at an Airbnb will make you feel at home and let you live like a local. Plus, both options are usually great money savers.
T – Trust your gut
Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right to you. Don’t associate with people who make you feel uncomfortable, don’t go places that seem sketchy, and don’t do anything you think may put yourself and your health and safety at risk. Listen to and trust your gut.
U – Uber Around
Although Uber is not available in every country, please take advantage of it when it is. It’s usually the cheapest and quickest way to get around. It’s also a lifesaver when you’re struggling to find your way around and you need a quick “pick me up.”
V – Vibe out in the night life
This is your chance to see the area after the sun goes down. It’s an opportunity to experience the music, the drinks, and how locals let loose. Some of the best memories I have are from going out at night to drink and dance with new friends.
W – Write things down
Another big mistake I made during my travels was not writing things down. It’s not always convenient, but it’s the best way to collect memories. Sometimes I have trouble describing moments in my current writing because I didn’t take the time to write down the important details. On the train, at the coffee shop, or lying on the beach, get your notebook and pen out and jot things down.
X – X marks the spot
This might be pretty old school, but using a map and actually marking down spots you want visit is very helpful, especially if you’re in a time crunch. Get a city map, mark the spots and plan out the best route to conveniently hit all those places.
Y – Yawn at Dawn
I don’t care how tired you are! Get up for at least one sunrise every place you go. My most precious memories are from when I woke myself up early, either alone or with a friend, to take in the colors and crisp air at the break of dawn. It’s a wonderfully peaceful and serene experience and for just a little while it feels like you own the sky above you.
Z – Zig when everyone else zags
One the greatest lessons I learned when traveling was to write my own path. You don’t always have to follow the crowd. I’ve been on tours where I decided to break away from the group when I could and I’ve chose to do different things than what my friends were doing. It led me to be more adventurous, own the personal journey I was on, and discover a different perspective than everyone else.