Traveling can be quite the adventure and it may involve fun-packed exciting trips, and new memories that will last a lifestyle! Traveling is definitely worth the hustle to quench the thirst of an adventurous spirit. It’s also probably on everyone’s bucket to see the world a bit, and get the experience of traveling to another country. The thought of seeing new places, experiencing different cultures, and tasting new delicacies from foreign lands may just make you want to jump on to the next plane seeking out these new places and people who could awake your sensibilities! That’s great, but before you get on to the next plane to God knows where, understand that like everything else in life, to enjoy it, traveling must be done right.
Here are a few of the lessons I have personally learned over the years from my travels.
I know this may sound like an obvious one, but it is so key! Make sure to start the process early. Have all the necessary required items and documents. Such as when it comes to the embassy and getting your visas. You may have heard how sometimes they give visa depending on their mood that day. That is why you should give them no extra reason to deny you a visa because you are disorganized. When I was going to South Africa, it took me three or four different times repeatedly going back to the embassy to check if my visa was out. I got it like a week before I was due to travel because I had heard by word of mouth that they take two weeks to process it, instead of the four to six weeks they actually took. It was a very close call! Also at the airport in case of anything, have all your documents near you, Identification, yellow fever card if you need it, passport with visa etc…
Learn to understand and embrace the Culture
The funniest experience happened to me and a group of friends when we were in Thailand. We had just come from a thirteen hour journey with connecting flights and everything in between. We had landed in Bangkok, the capital. We were tired and sitting at the bus station, dreading the five, maybe six hour bus trip we were yet to take. We threw our exhausted bodies down on these seats that were separated from the other chairs in the room. People started staring at us but we took no notice of it as we were so tired we didn’t even care! Some monks were then passing in front of us looked awkwardly down, and then went and sat at the group of chairs next to ours. Later on we were told by a translator that those chairs we had taken possession of were reserved for the Holy men, aka Buddhist Monks. It was so embarrassing!
It became a lesson though; take precaution not to offend the culture as much as you can help it. Like in the Thai culture it is very disrespectful to show your feet in any way while having a meal. When in doubt ask a local…
This may come as a contradiction to lesson number one, be prepared, but it is actually synonymous in that there are times to throw caution to the wind, let your hair loose, and have a good time! Don’t overdo the preparedness, by scheduling every moment of every day into some activity. Allow yourself the freedom to make random memories that you didn’t plan for. Check out places that are sure to have you going back for a good time.
In Thailand there was a point I was running out of money but some of my girls and I decided to go out on a random girl’s night and made lasting memories I wouldn’t have made if I had decided that I couldn’t afford to go. I would never have anticipated the memories made from getting dolled up and going out dancing to experiencing the famous walking street at night, with its magic acts, street food, and Go-Go dancing advertisements.
Try New Things!
This just means open up yourself to new possibilities, unpleasant or not. In the Philippines the grossest thing I ate was a duck fetus, which is a delicacy there. It actually wasn’t too bad, and now I can say that I have done it. My friends also got to try eating termites, when it was offered to them at a local’s home.
In the street food in Thailand they also sold fried Beetles and Scorpions but I was never brave enough to go that far, maybe next time? Some new experiences are actually quite enjoyable, even when it comes to food. When I went to Mozambique I was served a purplish coconut soup, eaten with fish that didn’t seem appealing at all, but I tried it and literally cleared my plate! I could not get enough of it. Traveling gives you the opportunity to do things you have never done before in your life. Don’t spit that opportunity back in its face…
Record your Memories!
One of the things I have learned is to keep a record of all your little experiences. These days with all the modern technology we have you don’t even have to carry much to do this, probably even just a phone. Take pictures; write in your journal and even video graph the silliness and sheer thrill of your adventures. A fun little exercise is getting some of the new people you meet to sign an autograph for you, so that by the end of your life you have autographs, hopefully, from all over the world!
Have Fun with the Good, Learn from the Bad, and Enjoy every moment!
Believe me when I say, that not everything you will experience about this new place will be fantastic; especially when the wonder and attraction fades away. You will start to notice some of the bad. Remember though it is a growing experience, and you only have a limited time in this new place so why waste it complaining about every horrible thing and comparing it to ‘back home.’ I don’t believe that a country in itself can have a purely bad review; you may have a few bad experiences but make sure to look for the good as well so as not to tint your view of the nation.
Shingai is an upcoming writer with a passion for words and expression through writing. She lived in Zimbabwe as a child and has traveled to over ten countries. She craves adventure and hopes to be an inspirational writer. She is currently pursuing a degree in English Literature with a minor in Psychology at Daystar University.