Sightseeing may have previously been an exclusive luxury, but times have changed. Today anyone can become a global traveler. With the help of flight comparison websites and endless options of places to stay, there is a new travelling trend that is set to encourage our adventures.
Perhaps you have embarked on your next great vacation – before you go, ask yourself, “Am I prepared to be able to fully enjoy this trip?”
Let me confess, I am no travel guru. The last time I traveled, it was suggested by the airport ticket agent that I put my six-pound-overweight suitcase on a diet. With that disclaimer aside, I have learned a few lessons from having to drag six pounds of jeans, sneakers, and whatever else would fit in my carry-on backpack.
With a few creative practices, you can take some weight off your shoulders on your next travel experience, metaphorically speaking. While I am unable to give professional packing advice, I can offer a set of guidelines to help you enjoy your vacation even more.
Write down the names of interesting places you pass on the street
There will be instances when you have a break in your itinerary and it’s up to you to discover your next pursuit. Rather than letting this interval go to waste, plan for it. In Any.do, add a list titled ‘Places to Explore’ and fill it with the names of restaurants and stores that you pass during your scheduled tours. Doing so will remind you of the coffee shop with the cozy patio that you passed while riding the bus or the trendy shoe store across from the museum you visited. While some downtime cannot be avoided, it can be used to read over that cafe’s menu or map out walking directions from your hotel to the shopping center. If your plans are canceled unexpectedly, you’ll know exactly where to go.
Take photos as “bookmarks” to remember where you’ve been
There is probably a history expert out there who will disagree with me on this, but for the majority of us, all ancient castles look nearly identical: broken stones, tall fortresses, possibly a wall protecting the premises. After returning from a history-packed voyage, it can be nearly impossible to note the difference between snapshots of the medieval castle you visited in one village from the Gothic castle in another. Rather than wasting time comparing your photos to Google Images post-vacation, make a blueprint for yourself as you go by pointing out unique items to photograph at the start of each tour.
Upon entering a new city, take a panorama of a street sign or a map that gives a pretend visual title to your album within that location. Before taking any pictures at the ballet, capture a shot of the ticket showing the time and venue of the performance. Rather than snapping an artsy photo of your favorite dish, photograph the menu cover or a business card from the restaurant first. It may seem as though these photos are consuming your camera’s space, but when you eventually look back to sort through your pictures, you’ll find these simple bookmark-like images separating your travels into smaller chapters.
Bring a journal
There is nothing worse than being asked about a trip and having nothing to say, but the reality is that most of us can’t even remember what we ate for breakfast last week. My intention is not to take away from your travels by comparing them to the bowl of Cheerio’s you consume every morning, but it’s easy for the days to blend together when you are trying to recall how you spent a particular afternoon. If you don’t already keep a journal, this could be the time to start. While routine journaling certainly isn’t for everyone, writing your travel stories can be extremely rewarding. Do yourself a favor by jotting down the spots you visit and the food you eat. Write about the instances where you laughed or felt confused – maybe you had a particularly funny tour guide or perhaps there’s a cultural difference that you just don’t understand. Years from now, you may not remember the inside jokes you kept with your travel companions or the questions that puzzled you, so having your stories logged allows you to relive them whenever you wish.
Make it a goal to include one journal entry a day. If you need a reminder, add a recurring task to your Any.do account and challenge yourself not to hit ‘snooze’ when the time comes for you to sit down and write. This does not need to be the next best-selling novel – write in a style that is comfortable for you. The purpose is to reflect in the moment and evoke memories in the future, not to entertain an outside audience. Do not let “writer’s block” be an excuse – a paragraph with lack of a purpose or little organization is still better than having nothing written down at all.
Learn the lingo
If you are headed to a destination where there may be a language barrier, take some time to pick up a few key phrases to help you navigate. Before you leave, download a language learning app to pick up some of the basics. Having a running list in Any.do of common words or phrases will help you recall the vocabulary that will be most important once you are immersed in a new culture. In the spare moments you have relaxing in your hotel room, quiz yourself on the new language and cross off the words you’ve memorized by heart. Your pronunciation will not fool anyone into believing you are fluent, but making an effort to communicate will be greatly appreciated by the natives with whom you interact, giving you a more meaningful connection with the people around you. If you’re having trouble finding translations, consider adding photos to the tasks in your vocabulary list on Any.do – even if you lack verbal communication, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Take note of the points I missed – the tips you wish you would’ve known but have learned from your own experiences.