Traveling allows you to do so many things you never do when you’re home. The lessons you can learn about yourself and others are invaluable. I’ve found some basic ways to make sure I enrich myself while I’m traveling.
Break out of your comfort zone
Challenge yourself to do things that you normally wouldn’t try. Do you have trouble talking to strangers? Talk to everyone. Don’t like trying new foods? Taste at least one thing you usually would say no to if offered. Not a hiker? Hike. Having second thoughts? Just go for it.
I’ve found it easier to try new things when I travel because everything is already different, what’s one more new experience? And who knows, you may end up bringing one or more new things into your life.
Learn as you go
You end up spending a lot of time in transit. Why not take the time to learn something new while you’re on a plane, bus or train? Podcasts are amazing for this. Time goes by so much faster if you listen to music, or someone tell a great story, or interviews with experts. You can gain new knowledge about any topic.
Learn from the people around you
You can learn so much about different cultures and traditions by talking to people. Make it a point to speak to people that live there. Basic English is spoken across the world, so it’s easier to communicate than you might think if you’re in a country that doesn’t speak your language. Hand gestures and body language also help get your message across.
I wrote in another post Vacationing like you’re local, not to be judgmental. You can learn a lot by listening to others’ points of view, even if you don’t agree.
Treat your body well
Traveling can throw your body and schedule out of whack. You tend to sleep less, workout less and eat worse than you would at home. It doesn’t have to be this way.
It’s not difficult to exercise on the road. Read My keep fit while traveling guide for ways to stay active. You can also walk or bike as much as possible. Choose healthy options at restaurants. You’re on vacation so I know you may not want to do that all the time, but if you manage to eat well for the majority of your meals, your diet won’t be completely turned upside down. Try to get enough sleep; if it’s loud where you are, ear plugs can help. Stay hydrated and use sunscreen.
Splurge at least once
I’m a fan of budget travel. It allows you to go away for a longer time and more often.
That said, budgeting everything can get boring after a while. With some upfront planning, you can see if you can spend some nights on the town or eat in a top restaurant. Before I go, I figure out where I’m comfortable cutting back costs so I can use some of my travel money to indulge.
Watch what’s going on around you
If you want to get a feel for a place, spend a few hours sitting in a park, a coffee shop or on a busy street corner to people watch. You can see how people interact with each other and what daily life is like there. If you pay close attention to details around you like colors, the interactions, sounds and smells, you’ll see stuff you’ve never noticed before.
Don’t take yourself too seriously
Don’t be afraid to mess up. You’ll most likely do something foolish at least once when you’re visiting a new place. I learned a long time ago not to get embarrassed. Instead, I laugh at myself. Try it! Laughing at yourself is much better than feeling bad or shame over doing something you might think is silly.
It’s a beautiful and fascinating world. Explore it in ways that give you lasting memories.