This post is part of a series called Travel in (Relative) Style. It is the third post in the series.
Alright, you’ve made it to your lodgings! Since we’re not planning a trip for the purpose of this series, hopefully you’ve figured that out already… Now, how to make the most of being where you are?
Tip #1: Don’t stress it.
Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be fine. A lot of times, something not fine will happen. I have a theory about this: for every 7 days of travel, there must be 1 bad one. Sometimes it doesn’t happen, but if you think of it this way it’s a lot easier to shrug off the bad ones. Don’t stress even the worst ones (unless, like, you’ve been arrested and someone took all your stuff or something like that) because that’ll detract from the other 6 good days.
Tip #2: Embrace the tourism.
A lot of people will tell you not to look like a tourist. They’re full of shit. You’re gonna look like a tourist unless you keep your head down, ignore everything around you, and just go from point A to point B without looking at the sights. Just enjoy yourself. They’re not paying for your holiday, so why should they tell you how you should look?
Tip #3: Don’t be a dick.
That being said, you being a tourist is not a free pass for you to be a dick. Self-explanatory.
Tip #4: Ask for help.
Some people will say no and wave you off, whatever dude. Chances are, your best bet to find help is in a shop or something. If you’re in a big tourist city, especially in Europe, there’s going to be a tourist center somewhere, those people are literally paid to help you. A lot of times, if you’re somewhere where you don’t speak the language, people will be less helpful because they might be embarrassed by their English. Just be patient and reassuring, even though you’re the one who needs help. And don’t be afraid to ask for clarification about something. A lot of times, someone I’m talking to will use slightly the wrong word in English, so I’ll ask them what they just said but in native-English to double-check.
Tip #5: Travel cards.
A lot of cities (at least in Europe) have travel cards that tout discounts. They’re usually not worth it unless you’re traveling with a group and going to see everything they offer a discount for. Look at what the discounts are/are for and then check how many of them you were interested in and see if it’s cheaper that way. A lot of times, you’ll feel the need to “get the most of it” and spend the time crunching to see enough to get your money’s worth and that does not sound like fun to me.
Tip #6: Day tours.
Sometimes, day tours can be a pretty good deal. Dublin, for example, has some really good ones. They’re around 50EUR each in Dublin, but they include the bus there and back and to a couple of places. It would probably be about the same for a train ticket and you’d probably have to take a rounder way because of the travel method. If you’re spending a lot of time in a place and you’ve run out of things to do, check for day tours.
Tip #6: Everybody loves post cards.
Get people’s addresses before you go and send post cards if you can. You don’t need to write them a long letter, you’ve got limited space. If every post card is going somewhere different, you can write variations of the same simple “This card is from ____. Today I went to ____ and saw ___. The weather is ____. Miss you!” (NOW YOU KNOW MY SECRET TO HOW I WRITE TENS OF POST CARDS AT A TIME.) They’re a cheap souvenir, too. I love visiting people I’ve sent post cards to and seeing them hanging up on their wall. Plus, they’re everywhere. Finding stamps might be a bit harder, but usually a shop that sells post cards will also sell stamps, or at least know where the closest shop that sells stamps is located. You’re not the first tourist to ask and you won’t be the last.
Tip #7: Gifts.
A lot of people turn their noses up at tourists in tourist shops (refer back to #2 for how I feel about those kinds of people), but a lot of those places will have 2-for-whatever deals or something like that. Gifts that are small and pretty universal are a good idea. My brother, for example, collects shot glasses and I’ve only had trouble finding them in Milan and China, but everywhere else they’re everywhere. I collect pins and buttons, my cousin and I collected bracelets in every country we visited in 2012, etc. If you’re stuck on what to get someone, send them a post card.
Tip #8: Universals.
There will be some things you didn’t/couldn’t pack that you can buy when you get there, but just be aware it might be a little more expensive. Just today, the day I’m writing this, I had to buy a 100mL thing of sunscreen and it was more than buying a big bottle of sunscreen back home, I just couldn’t bring my big bottle with me. (I have so. many. bottles of sunscreen, I ALWAYS have to buy it when I travel….) You’ll be able to get pretty much whatever you forgot/couldn’t bring where you are, unless it’s something really specific. The actual details of whatever it is might be slightly different, but it’ll work.
Tip #9: Relax.
I’ll admit, I’m still working on this one. I always feel the need to get my money’s worth during a trip, so it’s hard for me to have a day where I didn’t “see anything” or whatever. It’s good to have some down-time though, it helps you enjoy the trip that much more. And you can use that time to write your journal/blog entry and those post cards you got!
Tip #10: Have fun, but be aware.
You don’t have to be paranoid, everything will probably be fine, but you should still be aware of where you are and what’s around you. Little things like turning your backpack around to the front when you’re in a crowd to keeping your wallet and phone in a zipped bag instead of your pockets might make things a little inconvenient, but safer. I am always fidgeting, so even in the most crowded Beijing subway, I could tell when someone was even lightly brushing against my backpack because I’m always shifting back and forth. Be aware, but seriously, don’t go overboard. Unless you’ve gone somewhere really dangerous, in which case, why are you even reading this, this is not that type of blog??
That’s it. That’s what I’ve got so far. Feel free to comment on any of the posts if you think I missed something or if you have a question. I might make a separate series about packing and maybe another about planning trips, if that’s of interest to literally anyone. Or maybe I’ll do it because it’s my site and I’ll write what I want to!!