There’s a lot to consider when travelling around the place. You have to budget, organise visas, transport, injections, manage local currencies, remember to pack everything you need and find somewhere to stay. That’s a lot of stuff. Why not then add a few more things to the list!
These ones are too much of a drag though, little habits and routines to get into while you’re travelling which may seem pretty standard at the time, but will pay dividends in the months and years after you return. Here are five things to remember to do while you’re globetrotting.
1. Take pictures
You’re probably letting out a sigh of despair at this one. No doubt Mum and Dad and Granny have all told you to take loads and loads so they can see what you get up to. Most people now have three or four cameras in their possession, across a number of gadgets and gizmos, so there really is no excuse. Even the camera shy person should discipline themselves to turn into an avid photographer on their trip, the experience will last a whole lot longer as a result. Not just those two weeks you’re travelling Bhutan, but the year or longer after it that you’re looking through the snaps longingly, wishing you were still there instead of commuting to the office. Take pictures of everything and anything. It’s quite possibly you could never travel to that place again, so don’t waste that chance to see and record as much of it as you can.
2. Keep a diary/journal/log
Another habit that’s all too easily facilitated thanks to the tech we each have coming out of our ears. Keeping a diary does sound a little bit like a primary school assignment on the face of it, but just keeping a brief record of what you did, where you went and how you got there will make your story telling so much richer when you land safely back home. Everyone has a few days in a trip which are a blur, either through exhaustion and jet lag or simply because you didn’t really do anything. Write those days down too, because when you get home and start to get the withdrawal symptoms, those small paragraphs cataloguing what you did will be a fountain of storytelling nostalgia.
3. Do some homework
Hopefully the word ‘homework’ doesn’t still send cold shivers down your back. This sort of homework isn’t quite the same as trying to meet a deadline in 12 hours when you’ve only written your name and the title. Simply, read up a bit about where you are and what you’ll be doing. The mystery of new things is part of the joy of going there, so don’t become an expert in the place you’re going before you get there. All you should do is enough for context. Learn when that country gained independence or learn something about their history. Get some idea about local practices or beliefs or customs. This can all be done on the road and no need to write essays to test how well you know it. It’s just about getting some context, building a clearer picture in your mind and then filling in the blanks with your own experiences along the way.
4. Be obsessive with your possessions
It’s entirely possible that you’re entire world is wrapped up in a large rucksack while you’re travelling. Everything you need to look after yourself day to day, get yourself home and to get yourself out of trouble. So take care of it. Take the time to pack things away properly and apply a bit of DIY as and when your kit might need it. Maintaining you stuff isn’t just useful, but it’s really therapeutic as well. There’s bound to be periods of down time when you’re travelling so take those chances to fix, clean, tend to, repair, organise, clear away clutter, double check you have everything and generally maintain yourself and all the possessions you have with you. It’ll clear the mind and lift a weight from your shoulders…metaphorically.
5. Send Tweets, Facebook posts or YouTube videos
Everyone uses one or all of these platforms now. Use it as a way of keeping track of what you’re doing, letting friends and family keep track and connecting with other people having similar experiences. Tagging places you go will connect you to people who are there or have been, who will then send you hints and advice and information you may never have come across otherwise. People love interacting with stuff that’s familiar to them and they know so take it as a chance to learn more about where you are. Some clever clogs once decided to christen all those sites as “social networking”; they knew what they were talking about. Use them for the social skills you may not be able to use when you’re half way around the world in a country where you can’t speak the language. Connect to people and take them on your trip with you, carried around in your laptop or phone. It’s fulfilling, informative and downright good fun.
These all may seem to be small or insignificant things to take into account with your trip, but they all show their worth tenfold after the fact. A year later, the memories are so much more acute thanks to the odd Facebook message you get from someone you’ve never met in person, but who gave you a hint about a great little known restaurant to try in Jaipur. Or discovering whole folders of photos you completely forgot you’d taken in a place you’d forgotten you’d visited. Even the hours of stress saved thanks to simply being a bit organised with your kit. These aren’t just about enjoying the moment; they’re about enjoying it AFTER the moment.
By Guy Bezant - Online Journalism Intern
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