Travelling away from home – and especially somewhere abroad – can be daunting for the inexperienced, but that needn’t be so. With a bit of good preparation, common sense, successful hunting for and booking of accommodation and an open mind to explore and experience new things, you can have the time of your life on your trip…
Do your research
There’s nothing like going the traditional route when it comes to prepping your trip – after all, how better to do research on where you’re going, what you plan to see and do and what area to stay in than by seeking out a quality travel book and allow a genned-up author to confidently guide you through what you need to know?
Alternatively, of course, you may decide to do what millions of travellers do nowadays, research online. There’ no getting away from it, the ’Net’s an encyclopaedia of articles on destinations the world over, as well as an incredible mine of information on hotels, tours and the like. Moreover, you’ll find that social media’s a terrific source for visual inspiration – hashtag-based searches are the way forward here, focusing on particular cities, resorts, hotel types and activities.
Get insurance and documents sorted out
Peace of mind; there’s nothing like it when you go travelling. So to say it’s worth outlaying a little for it is putting it mildly – otherwise, should you be unlucky and suffer a major accident while away, it could cost you a small fortune in medical bills (depending on which country you visit, that is). Additionally, it’s important to make sure all your documentation is correct before you set off; be sure to photograph the likes of your passport, credit cards, driver’s licence and health insurance cards (again, depending on where you’re going and which country you hail from) and keep printed copies of them with you and give others to a trusted relative/ friend before you go. You can’t be too careful with this stuff.
Go direct to find the right hotel
Today, undoubtedly the best way to hunt down accommodation is to go online and make use – via very specific keywords – of a search engine. Then, in coming across a variety of different hotels and properties, go to their website (not through a travel advisor) and book direct with them through their site to obtain their seasonal deals and short-stay bargains. So, say, you’re looking to visit the UK capital and want to stay in one of the hotels near Oxford Street London; in that case you’re best advised to book through their site – this way, they won’t be splitting the fee you pay with a middle-man booking agent, so the best deals will always be available with them direct.
Expect the unexpected
You’re not at home, you’re probably in a foreign country, you’re no doubt staying in a hotel and you’re in unfamiliar surroundings and among unfamiliar people. If anything unexpected is going to happen (yes, unfortunately, something unpleasantly unexpected), you might as well be prepared – or at least primed – for it to happen while you’re away from home on a trip. That’s not to say it should happen, of course, and definitely not that it will. But it’s as well to be prepared (actually, of course, following the tips outlined above should help minimise something untoward happening). This then is about mind-set. Always be aware of where you are; if it feels unsafe, don’t hang around and move on. Equally, though, don’t allow yourself to be freaked out by minor hiccups; you’re no doubt travelling for pleasure and new experiences, so allow yourself to have and enjoy those new experiences even if everything doesn’t totally go to plan. Speaking of which…
Embrace the unexpected!
Fundamentally, travel is all about a different, usually new experience – it comes down to discovery, more often than not, and therefore embracing the unexpected. So always try to have an open mind and an attitude that welcomes whatever comes your way (within reason). Be open, curious and inquisitive. Get to know one or two local people if you can and, should it seem appropriate to ask strangers a question or two depending on where you are and what you’re doing, don’t stop yourself from doing so; most people in most countries are friendly and accommodating – and proud of where they live so pleased to be positive about it and explain what’s going on.
There’s also a fine argument for following that age-old mantra – do as the locals do. They’re often aware of the best spots for entertainment and enjoyment and fascination in their home town. To do this then requires you to be flexible, amenable and sociable; be ready to alter your itinerary and go on a wander and get lost (again, within in reason) and – yes, most important of all, to have new experiences!