1. Travel light

This applies to all areas of your life. Through travelling light physically, mentally and emotionally you will be more open to adapting to the new country and getting the most out of the experience. Therefore leave unnecessary extra baggage at home and travel lightly throughout the trip only taking with you the necessary parts of the journey such as your good memories from each stage.


2. Be open-minded

Wherever you go, go with an open-mind, ready to experience all that you can whether you understand something or not, sometimes all it takes is an open mind ready to accept things as they are rather than putting up barriers to new and different experiences.


3. Be ready to meet new people

You never know who is going to be at the same eating place, train station or any other stage of your journey and therefore it is best to be prepared to get to know as many people as you can. Obviously don’t put personal safety in jeopardy but be prepared to say the first “hello” in whatever language and strike up a conversation. These people you meet can help you for a minute, on that stage of your travels or even remain in your life for years later.


4. Listen to others, especially locals more than you talk

Some people make the mistake in believing they need to introduce themselves, give their points of view and take over a conversation. However, the best way to learn and get to know people and their way of life is to listen fully with ears, eyes and the whole of one’s attention.

This is how we pick up on different cultures from the people who belong to it and not from talking through it all about us and our country. It’s good to share information but at first it’s even better to listen.  


5. Have the desire to get the most out of your travels

Don’t in other words expect to have everything that you have left behind about your country. It is natural that shops will sell different things, you will eat different things, people may wear different clothes and treat each other differently to in your country and the religion may be something completely different to your own so be open to making the most of the experience.


6. Experience things by looking at them directly not through a camera lens

More and more we are reaching quickly for whatever electronic gadget we use to take photos or record a moment, however this is effecting our long term memory of the moment as we are no longer experiencing it with all our senses and actually being part of the action, we are viewing it through a lens. It may make a fantastic photo however later you may not recall the experience fully.


7. Take public transport, cycle or walk

These are ways to meet locals and experience the country as they do not through a hire car or expensive transport This is a great way to be part of the action rather than observing t from the safety of a car and being behind windows.

By walking, cycling or taking public transport, you are part of the life as experienced by a local and the conditions which go with it. So, if you are waiting for hours for a bus to fill up with passengers before it leaves the bus depot then you experience life as it is rather than setting off anytime in your hire car.

If on that bus you have to climb over seats as a woman as women sit crammed in the back of a bus, then you get a feel for how women are treated in that country. 


8. Make sure you spend time with the locals

Often when people travel, they go with all good intentions and then the need for comfort and ease take over and they spend the majority of their time with their own nationality, speaking their own language and hearing the views of their own countrymen on the country they are in rather than the local view.

When spending too much time with one’s on nationality the temptation is then to compare the country with your own and those comparisons can often turn into criticisms and make the experience more negative than it should be.


9. Relax

Don’t restrict self through nerves etc. Breathe and observe then get involved. When in doubt, remind yourself of why you are there, accept that there will be many times when you feel overwhelmed but relax, observe others and get stuck in the life around you.


10. Learn the language

I’ve left probably the most important to the end of the list so it registers. Any trip will be made so much easier, will immediately show respect to the locals and will enable access to more aspects of your trip. Taking a language course abroad or just learning hello, please, thank you can make a huge difference but to add to that in knowing general phrases and being able to ask directions and to understand the money will enhance all journeys. 


By Alison Laycock 


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