The struggle is so real, for me and others in my generation, when it comes to the struggle of not missing out on something amazing. In my case, something beautiful in a foreign land. What if I never get a chance to go back! I must confess that I have fallen prey to this situation one too many times before. For instance, I have been to London and have not seen the Westminster Abbey! FML!
Planning for a trip, can quickly turn into a very stressful situation instead of a fun exercise. One needs to find the balance on what you want to do and see. Nobody would want to run from one end of a city to the other, get exhausted and end up needing a “vacation from a vacation”. You also don’t want to miss out on simply just relaxing and watching the sunrise or sunset with a good book and wine! Over the course of my travels, I have found some stuff that works best for me to help me prepare for a trip and yet, maintain my sanity.
Travel inspiration mood boards
I have been a big fan of Tumblr and Instagram for a long time for all my travel inspiration. Often, I stumble upon numerous images that trigger my wanderlust; I giddily pin them to my numerous Pinterest mood boards.
Travel blogs are also another source of inspiration. I started mine to share my experiences, hoping that it will inspire others like me to finally buy that ticket! You never know what hidden gem you might find in a far away town or even in your own hometown in some blog post on the internet! Different people have different reasons to travel, finding beauty in different things. Some find joy in spontaneity, while others freak out without a planned trip manifesto! But, whichever is your style, I am sure you will find something that you like!
Always listen to a local
One thing that I often do after reaching my destinations is to always find a local for recommendations. Most people are friendly and would gladly give you tips on where to dine like them, dress like them or where they love to hang out. If you are lucky, they will even take you around and you will never feel like Charlotte in Lost in Translation.
You will find and do stuff that even Lonely Planet or Trip Advisor could not discover. You never know what stories you will learn and how enriched you will be through these connection. Moreover, not all places in the world are so welcoming of tourists. The value of having someone local to guide you in their customs and traditions can never be undermined, in such a scenario.
Sometimes it’s okay to use a (good) travel agent
Might not exactly be the first choice if you love the excitement and rush of exploring a place on your own; but strangely in my experience, sometimes talking to a travel agent might get you to experience some really offbeat stuff. Nowadays, the internet is filled with new travel startups which want to revolutionize the way you look at travel! El Camino Travel is one such agency that caters to the current day travellers. So, go ahead and give such agencies a chance for an invigorating experience!
Figure out your travelling style and budget
It always a good idea to know what kind of travel would you be most comfortable with, both experience-wise and money-wise. Once you figure out the destination, be it a rustic country weekend or a bustling city adventure, see what fits your budget. This may include accommodation, transport and obviously, food! Do not ignore the importance of using Google Maps to get an idea on the distances between your destinations. Nowadays, It even gives you a good estimate on what mode of transportation to use to reach your destination quickly and cheaply! Also, time is literally money and vice versa, while travelling!
I have been down that rabbit hole – having made the mistake of flying into a smaller airport in Spain to save money. I eventually ended up spending double the money and time on the cab ride to the city center!
Never underestimate the power of doing your homework when it comes to venturing out into an unknown place on your own. Always, find an emergency point of contact, be it’s the local police, your country’s embassy or even that exchange student from college days! You will be prepared for the worst, be it being stranded in an airport or getting your valuables stolen. Yes that has happened with me! Things can go south in no time and it’s always good to have a good backup plan and a point of contact to reach out in case of emergency!
Always have a little wiggle room
If you are a control-freak like me who always has a things-to-see list for every location, I am sure this might stress you. But having a little flexibility hurt nobody! You might actually find it refreshing; and see and do things outside your comfort zone that will only enrich you and make you a storyteller. Instead of getting a selfie outside say XYZ monument to post on Facebook, maybe go and chat with strangers in that small corner coffee shop that apparently has the best espresso!
Your predetermined itinerary does not have to be etched out in stone. Many a times, you will find something really interesting not on your list while there. Every journey, I take baby steps to let go and convince myself that It’s okay to miss out on a few things on my-to-do-list. Maybe you should too! Remember travel is about the journey not the destination!
Obviously, I am still in this process and would appreciate others inputs on the same as well. So, you know what to do -Hit the comments section. Happy travelling everyone!