I consider myself a traveler but above all a constant learner always looking for travel opportunities. Actually the latter maybe is what mostly causes the first. So by definition whenever I visit a new place I get so excited to try to understand the culture, meet the people and see all the interesting scenery and monuments that it has to offer. This is my mentality.
At the same time most of my trips and travel opportunities are for a limited time (4-6 days) which means that if I just leave everything to chance most possibly I will miss many important points. I assume that you make your trips in similar conditions. Of course if the place is interesting no amount of days can ever be enough but let’s try to be rational, ok?
Photo by Moyan Brenn
So this is a post for you learners, a post for curious minds seeking travel opportunities that all their world is their stage and even the place they live is just a part of the whole. If you sense that, then I am sure you have many things to take from the post. I can understand that some others work a lot and just wait for holidays to relax in a spa and chill. That’s perfectly fine and I am not criticizing it. Now what I wanna describe to you is an efficient system that will make you wiser after any trip you make, even if you don’t take the plane back physically relaxed.
I follow these rules even when I visit my home country (Greece) so if you follow me I promise you that you will have many stories to tell your friends after any trip and most importantly your horizons will open incredibly. This is my goal and I hope the same is yours, too.
Making the Most of Travel Opportunities
1. First and foremost choose your company wisely. This has the most significance of all. You must spend these days with people that have similar personalities, pursuits and needs. Imagine you preferring to move all the time and your friend(s) preferring to lay in a pool or being afraid of the weather conditions.
There is no reason to have hard feelings on this. It’s just a matter of choice and not everyone is the same so avoiding a trip with the wrong company is going to be beneficial for all of you.
2. Gather information about the places before you depart. Find out what are they key points that you need to see. It’s really important to be proactive:
- Think if you have any friend or you know anyone that lives there. Then try to remember if you know anyone that has lived or visited it and get in contact.
- Visit sites such as tripadvisor to find new travel opportunities, this one here or use the good old google. There is always information about any possible place you can imagine, there exist good and knowledgeable people everywhere that have sat and written down valuable information freely accessible to you. Or even if you don’t feel covered after all these enter a forum and ask a question, you’ll get plenty of answers instantly.
Photo by Unsplash
3. Pick your accommodation so that it is in a good location even if you have to pay a little more. You don’t want to waste time and energy when leaving from “home” or returning back daily. Up to one and a half kilometer distance from the main places of interest is perfectly ok in my view. If you don’t know where the main areas are you can do the trick that I do.
In any accommodation, hostel etc website look at a map of all the hotels. The central area is where you see them most concentrated. These websites mention the distance from center and the reviews do the same as well but with the way I mentioned you don’t even need to follow these and just trust yourself.
Also Read: 8 Mistakes Solo Travelers Should Avoid
4. Gather information when you arrive. Of course this is where you’ll learn the most:
- Have your eyes and ears open and be generally open. Even from the airport you can start a discussion with locals that are happy to help you. Remember, we are trying to find out where we should put our focus. If you notice any tourist information desk you don’t lose anything to ask them.
- However, most of the information can be found in the hotel or hostel. They always have tourist maps that have marked all the places of interest. But don’t feel satisfied by that. Ask the receptionist as many questions as you want and please don’t be shy. It’s their job to answer to you and be as informative as possible. Tell them to take a pen or pencil and draw on the map so that they can make your life easier. Keep the marked map in a safe place for your whole visit, it’s gonna be your most important “gadget” (after your Smartphone ;)).
- If you use airbnb or free exchange accommodation websites such as stay4free.com, couchsurfing.com , hospitalityclub.org etc it’s even better. The hosts are locals and most of the times very hospitable thus it’s very possible that they will even come with you to show you around apart from providing you with information.
5. Look at the geography on the map and divide the places of interest into areas according to the geographic location. Which ones are close to each other and so on and so forth. See how many days you have and decide which area(s) you will visit each day. If you have less days than the areas try to fit into the same days areas that are close to each other.
Be careful, you don’t need to hurry to visit everything (you are a tourist and not a marathon runner) but neither to waste your time in just a few places. Balance is everything but remember, who knows if you’ll visit that place ever again in your life.
6. Find where restaurants and cafes which have a nice view are (you will see why later)
Photo by Unsplash
7. Learn which places need to pay for entrance and plan according to how much you are willing to spend. Talking about museums and generally monuments, try to find out at what time they are closing. You don’t want to go there and face shut doors.
Also Read: 6 Parks to Fall in Love With in London
8. Be prepared to walk and avoid transport especially tube. If you are a woman wear ONLY flat shoes. Buses are sometimes ok because they are a cheap tour of the city. So I don’t need to mention that when you are inside you should try to pick a window seat and not focus on chatting with your friends. Or why not take a bicycle weather permitting?
9. Use google maps or any other gps application that suits you. This can be incredibly useful for obvious reasons. If you travel in a country inside the European Union know that there are now rules where the mobile connection is not expensive.
For example you can be using both your phone and mobile internet with the same plan as in your country and just pay something like 3€/day. If you aren’t in the European union you can either buy a cheap local mobile card (i.e on Morocco they gave me one for free in the airport) or download a map from the hostel’s wifi to use offline.
So in this case you can put the route in your maps and make your life much much easier.
10. Once again, be open and ask questions in the street even if you don’t know the language. Most people are happy to help and even if you are shy, come on, noone knows you and noone will ever see you again.
Also Read: 7 Useful Travel Tips for Traveling the World
11. After a few hours of walking stop for a coffee or for food in the places that you learnt before that have a nice view. Ask questions there, too. You are a customer and they just can’t deny helping you.
Photo by David Goehring
12. Take many pictures but don’t overdo it. You want to experience the place yourself and not through your camera lens. I mostly use my smartphone but of course you can have a camera. Also, you don’t need to inform your friends on facebook or other platforms instantly. If you really want to do that, wait to sit for coffee.
13. Lastly, please don’t be afraid. My experience shows that all the places are much safer than what they are considered to be. Of course you don’t need to visit ghettos but the majority of the places are definitely not so dangerous as the social conditioning considers them. In reality they are great travel opportunities to explore.
Especially countries outside Europe like Morocco or Thailand are tourist oriented and are by definition much safer than Europe. The governments are so strict because the majority of their economy is based on tourists. Thus you will soon understand that it never even crosses the mind of the people there to touch a tourist.
Due to poverty they may be asking you for money or other things all the time and in any possible way (I didn’t say that this isn’t annoying) but they will almost never want to take anything from you without your compliance.
That was it. Cheers to your next trips!