1. Always take a camera / smartphone
with you, including an extra charger, everywhere you go, because the unexpected often offer you the best and most unique travel experiences and you need to be ready to catch that moment. Even in the city you live , there might be new perspectives to explore.
Think about your last trip when you did that. Was that a good idea? I remember when I was in Cairo and decided to go for a walk around the city centre at night, ending up getting some really great shots when I least expected. And I thought about leaving the camera in the room.
Or when I am visiting Lisbon, my birth town, I tend to think I have seen all but somehow there is always a something unique that you can capture, so every trip I make there, i always get pictures that I never tought of before. That’a why you should bring a camera/ smartphone all the way.
2. Pack with quality
because just packing too many things n your luggage, won’t be very efficient when carrying it through streets, parks, hills or any place where you would regret why you put such weight in there. And unless you have a concierge waiting for you somewhere (no I don’t mean your travel partner(s) and if you are solo then well, it’s you…), do try to keep it practical.
I know that it’s a challenge, but I lost count in my early travel days how many times I regretted putting too much things in there, that I would use once or twice.I felt even more annoyed when I had to carry to it on my backpack or a trolley through those nice cobbled streets where it got stuck every 3rd stone.
So how do you do it? Just list which things you really want to do where you are going, how many days and where you are staying (hotels and resorts do have a lot of stuff for free). At the end of the day, if you forget something, I can tell you that even in the farthest corner of this planet, you will find a shop.
3. Taking Pictures is not everything
but do them as much as possible, because at the end its your memories to remember , to share with family, friends and in travel communities or your blog, that you might not be planning today.
For example I always thought that I would just use them privately or in any given social media with friends, but then the idea of sharing them together with my experiences gave it a completely different dimension, that I wished I had knew before because I could have done so much more to share and help others. Take those pictures anywhere everywhere.
4. Plan the Journey ahead
always reading some good guides, asking and reading advice from other travellers in forums and travel communities to make the best decisions before you get there. It will save you precious time and when you get there you can spend time travelling, instead of scrapping for information. Also the fact that understanding the local culture, will give you an edge when talking with people and visiting places, even without a guide or audioguide.
This was extremely helpful for me to understand better the cultures in Israel and Palestine and what to expect, which were the highlights and how to get there, also connecting with fellow travellers before. And what better example, when I decided to visit the monastery of Saint George in Wadi Qelt, that wasn’t even on my list before, or learn how to get to Bethlehem, Palestine, with the local bus, that was such as smooth travel because I knew where, what and how to go (even if did confirm it with the bus driver just to make sure I wasn’t going elsewhere). Plan the journey always.
5. “One must travel, to learn”
as Mark Twain, a famous writer once wrote. Travel should always be more than just visiting. It should be about being open and tolerant to other costumes, even if they look completely different from ours. If you have a prejudice building up on your mind, do try to understand why it’s like that in the country you are visiting, because perspective is everything and can make a probably awful experience become something completely different.
When I was in China, I went to a food market in Beijing/ Peking and was offered some local specialties that involved a lot of bugs. Of course, this sounds disgusting to most Western patterns, but the Chinese eat them for centuries, not out of need, but because they can cook them like no one can. So after that 1st schock, I did try them and sincerely they were really good. But even if accepting the local culture as normal, it doesn’t mean that you have to experience everything just to be nice. You have a choice, always, when you learn.
6. Own the trip experience
becauseit might be your only opportunity to be in that place at that time, so make the most of it. If you want to stay longer in a location you like, just stay. If you want to keep talking with someone you find interesting, just keep talking. And if you want to go off the beaten path to discover a place just for yourself, just do it.
I still remember being in Kyoto, being told that I could overnight in a buddhist temple in Mount Koya. I am not a Buddhist but was always intrigued by the monks and how is it to sleep there in the middle of the mountain. So I cancelled a night at the hotel in Kyoto and went there to experience one of the best memories that still have from Japan and it wasn’t about the sleep quality. Own the trip.
7. Sometimes a guide will make it
worthwhile in top locations, even if we think that we can sometimes be the better guide on our own or the audioguide will do the trick. Having said this, do avoid getting tour guides on the spot, that are usually unofficial and try to charge extra versus if you had it before. So check some licensed agencies before, look at their ratings and reviews and pay the extra dollar if you need to, but ensure that you get what you paid for. I give you 3 examples where a guide made a difference for me:
In Egypt I was able to learn much more about Egyptian culture and secrets if I had tried to do it on my own, even if I know something, was much more rich. In Madagascar you can’t even drive on your own, but I just hired the (best) motorist ever via an agency and selected guides on the locations that I needed to spot where lemurs could be found in the forest or find the perfect waterfall. In Uzbekistan, the Silk Road has many secrets, so to get a lecture on the grandious history of Bukhara and Samarkand as major cities was just like getting myself immersed in a caravan like Marco Polo did 700 years ago
8. Be always on the lookout for scams
as not everyone in the travel business is serious, no matter if you are in Egypt, Italy, China or Mexico, there seems to be a global pattern of trying to rip off travellers everywhere. So like with the guides described above, try to avoid booking on the spot, do some research before, compare prices and ratings online and decide the best option. Same with nice taxi drivers outside official stands almost everywhere in the World.
When I was in Egypt, I was offered several tours in the place I was staying and the person offering kept pushing for a decision. I told him I needed time to decide and didn’t say yes immediately. After researching online, I realized that there were some price differences and that he was trying to sell wasn’t really what we would get in the package. Still I know that these guys earn on commissions, so I negotiated with him 3 tours and saved like 50% vs the original price, guaranteeing all I wanted in those trips, and still giving that guy something to earn. And in Thailand I skipped all the offers and met an official taxi driver, liking him so much that I hired thim for the rest of the journey and we are still friends today. Sometimes patience is everything, don’t be ripped off, be always on the lookout.
9. Take a pair of hiking shoes
because even for the occasional hiker, there might be a chance that you are attracted to do something that you weren’t planning beforehand. I mean you don’t need to be in the Himalayas or the Alps to hike or plan 6 hours hiking, but almost everywhere you can find spots to get away from the cities buzz, even in big cities there might be a place nearby where you would like to have a walk outside the city. Unless you really just on a city trip 110%.
Take the example of Dubai, a magnficent city escape where you will probably be enjoying some nice shopping at the Emirates Makk, admire the stunning local modern architecture and fountains at Burj al Khalifa or just relax at Jumeirah Beach, but like me the next day you will be touring the desert. Take my word that sneakers or even sandals can make it a nightmare and you might just get stuck in the dunes, a lot! Take hiking shoes.
10. Never give up
If either is getting to a destination later than expected, if you are lost somewhere, your phone or camera are out of battery, there will be always something you can do about it.
I remember when I was kayaking in Hawaii and wanted to take some nice picturesa and then noticed that my camera was gone. I went back and forth and couldn’t find it, until I realized it was probably near the shore. So I dived in and spotted it 5 meters below. With the help of some local hawaiian guys, they recovered the camera and even if it was done with pictures, I could still save the 1,000 pictures or more that I had there. Never give up ever.
Extra one: 11. Sic Parvis Magna
“from humble beginnings to greatness”, because it doesn’t matter if you travelled 5, 30 or 100 countries, you always started with one country one day like everyone else does and you probably will remember it always.
Later on some might brag about travelling everywhere, but experience tells me that we need to stay always humble on how we tell stories about those travels. It might not land as well as we would have thoight
Great travellers are always the most humble when sharing. But ensure you get the excitement when telling a travel story, there will always someone there to hear you.
HAPPY TRAVELS IN THIS AMAZING PLANET!
My name is Renato Azambujo. I live currently in Hamburg, but was born and raised in sunny capital of Portugal, Lisbon. I also lived in Switzerland for some years, before settling in Germany for the last years.
I am huge passionate about travel, photographer and a global explorer, always looking to the next destination.
I have so far visited over 70 countries across the 5 continents, because I really love knowing about new places, interact with different cultures and get to know myself better after each journey.