Happy New Year, Happy New You - Part 2 TRAVEL?
Having asked around the office, the 2nd most popular Resolution is Travel.
There are seven continents fixed on this globe (although they do move…) and each one deserves a visit. In saying that, you should never feel bad for not wanting to travel to a particular area, taste and curiosity are what drives globetrotters to live and travel the way they do. There are different ways to travel too. You can do the student backpack, the luxury retired, the career break year off, or just the paid vacations short trips. However much time you have if you have the bug to travel, you will travel, to either the next state or the other side of the world.
Short Trips and Weekend Escapes:
People exist, I know some, who try to use every free minute to be elsewhere than where they are. They squirrel away whatever they can, whenever they can, and then off they go to somewhere else on an adventure. And while social media and photos may depict the most amazing holiday ever, the likelihood that they passed rainy nights cold in a tent, or sweaty nights beating away cockroaches in a cheap motel, is quite high. But that is the sacrifice, and honestly, could they have paid for the trip if they had to include a proper hotel and decent food? People who travel on a budget understand that not everything is going to be perfect, and neither do they let it bother them.
There are those who prefer to wait longer to take a weekend city break and hold up in a fancy 5star hotel to be pampered the whole weekend. It might be the same price of 5 shoe-string adventures but if the person feels like it, then why not! We work hard enough to not be judged on what type of holidays we choose to spend our well hard earned cash on.
This is not a place where you can go for a weekend break, and maybe not advisable to go for a week - there is so much to explore and discover, and so many countries to visit! Elephant rides, jungle, ancient temples, paradisic beaches, and do-you-dare-to-eat-it street food. There is something for everyone, budget or top of the range, and it is even popular now for young work-from-home millennials to live in Thailand and work from there! These are poor countries, but anywhere you go will seem to be rather poor, unless you visit some of Europe.
This is a beautiful continent and my favorite. Just a few hours travel can have you immersed by a completely different culture, language, and, depending on what part of Europe, currency. Thankfully now the European Union has (mostly) one currency - the Euro, but not all countries are part of the EU. For example, the more eastern countries of Europe are not a part of the EU, so they use their own currency. An example of countries within the EU not using is Scandinavia (except Finland). Also, just because it is in the center, Switzerland is NOT a part of the EU, therefore they have their own currency, and interestingly enough, three national languages!
The local history presents itself through the architecture of its ancient buildings and churches. To stroll through Versailles in Paris, or take a drive up the Romantic Road in Germany, to sail a gondola in Venice or Amsterdam, or drink a pint of “the black stuff” in Ireland, everywhere you choose to go will not be regretted. But pay heed, in some highly populated cities, there are reports of pickpockets, mostly working by the entrances to the subways/trains. There could suddenly be 10 people around you giving an air of rush hour, then they disappear and so does your wallet and camera.
Fortunately, the vast majority of young people speak or at least understand, English. Needless to say, it is a simple mark of respect to have one or two words like hello and thank you, especially for the older generation.
Ah, sunny South America! Full of jungle, history, beaches, and stunning mountains. This is really a backpackers haven unless you have an RV to drive down. The people I have met who do this trip usually do volunteering work to supplement a little their trip - 4 weeks volunteering with a place to stay and food to eat. It is also a great way to get to know the local culture and life. You can easily survive if you speak Spanish and Portuguese but stick only to the Spanish speaking countries if you are more comfortable with your level of Spanish.
This is a great thing, especially if you have a family. You can go online and sign up with a home exchange site, pay a small fee, then connect with other homeowners to arrange an exchange! This helps so much with budgeting, as the price of a hotel for five people could extend your holiday by a couple of weeks, or extend it by a couple hundred miles even! These sites are built by trust and run by other families, so don’t expect 5-star cleanliness but do expect an enriching experience.
No matter where you go, or how you do it, here are some general tips:
Bring only what is necessary: there is no need to bring so many clothes, or types of shoes, with you. Pack your favorite basics but leave behind the “maybe I will wear that” items. I often ease my packing frenzies by thinking about the possibilities of buying something on arrival, if needed. For your toiletries try not to bring too much, and again, you can always pick things up locally at your destination.
Respect the travel limitations: if you are flying, make sure your cases are the correct size and weight. Try not to bring something too awkwardly large if you plan to use trains - you will have to lift it yourself onto the train and then find a place to store it without disturbing everyone aboard. If you decide to travel by bus, usually the driver will organize the luggage underneath.
Keep your money on you, hidden: it is available to buy a little pocket bag that can be worn underneath a shirt. Therefore it is not visible to anyone. Do not put your wallet in your back pocket, neither your backpack. If you have a handbag, avoid putting it on your shoulder behind you, and always have your eye on it. There are professional pickpockets out there who prey solely on tourists - don’t let them ruin your vacation! I guess with credit cards and digital payment options it is a lot easier now to travel with money. I would advise though keeping a small amount in your pocket so chancers won’t see your hiding place, and if someone does approach you you can just give them that and begone!
Cameras: Whether you are a professional photographer or an amateur, try to avoid hanging one around your neck. I know that it is great for ease to take pictures while sightseeing but nothing scream “White Rich American” more than a camera hanging around your neck. Carry a backpack but on your front to allow easy access in and out to grab your gear?
Respect local traditions: Depending on where you choose to go you might have to drastically alter your appearance, for example, temples in Nepal require people to be fully attired, that means, no skits or shorts or short sleeves. If you visit a Muslim country then a woman should wear a headscarf. If you stay in the US, no white after Labor Day, etc. If you find yourself dissatisfied in China, try not to let it show - keeping a calm air will help you a lot faster than the angry shouting we would usually resort to.
Clean up after you: I know that many of you reading this would not do this, but it needs to said. Do not litter or leave behind anything that wanst there before your arrival. Tourist areas, especially on hiking treks, are notorious for litter. People camp, cook, sleep and leave the next day leaving their rubbish behind. This is not only rude but damaging to nature and the environment. Check out how Mount Everest is suffering as a dump!
If travel is on your list then go for it. Even putting aside $20 a month could get you a decent small holiday at the end of the year! Go to your destination, soak it up, create memories, meet people, make people smile, make a good impression for those who will come after you. There is nothing to stop you, and don’t allow anything to stop you!