Today I thought I’d talk about being abroad a little bit, and offer my tips for travelling to different places. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit a few different countries around the world and a whole host of exciting cities, and each time there’s a few important things I like to make sure I do:
1. Live in the Moment
This may seem like a dumb thing to try and remember, but often it is one we can easily forget. I, for one, like to keep reminding myself this and I urge everyone to do so as well when travelling. In this day and age of technology, social media and everyone being so attached to their gadgets, it can be so easy to watch life, the amazing places you go to and all the incredible thing you do there pass you by. By all means, take pictures, and take loads if you must! (Heaven knows I do). But, in everything you do and everywhere you go, make sure to also take the time to put the gadgets away, and fully immerse yourself in the experience. Completely indulge and take in your surroundings – who knows when you’ll be back here again! Don’t occupy your time thinking about the perfect Instagram post – make being the most of somewhere new your priority, and opt to experience every second of it.
2. Plan Ahead
It is always best to research a place beforehand to see what there is to do there. Loads of places have the big ‘must dos’ and if particularly if these are big tourist attractions (or just far, expensive, or cumbersome), it is always worth planning ahead – there’s a good chance you might even be able to get better deals if you sort out all the big stuff beforehand! Planning ahead is also good in terms of safety as you can find out what’s the best way to move around, the places not to go, etcetera. If you’re going somewhere that’s pretty culturally different, it might also help you understand a bit more of the culture there and help you steer away from doing anything that might be offensive!
Don’t get me wrong though, there is definitely also a lot of fun in walking around and finding stuff to do off the cuff (I like to have always leave time in everything I plan in case I find something else that looks cool along the way!), but it’s also nice to have at least a vague idea of the places there are to go, how to get there, what to expect of the area, the price of things, etc. Plus, on days when you might not know what to do and have the time, this is when that research comes in handy! It gives you more ideas and options of activities, and acts as a nice back up plan. Basically, my point here is always have a rough plan or at least a vague idea of the places you want to go to and things you want to see before you get to your destination, keeping in mind all the factors it’ll take to achieve them, but also leave time for adventure – often the best moments are the unplanned moments!
3. Live Like a Local!
All cities – especially major cities – will have the tourist side to things that are the must do’s (and often the pricier activities). While these are often great and are definitely worth doing – you can’t go to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower, right? Or go to Rome without seeing the Colosseum? – I recommed also taking the time to explore what normal life is for the locals, and not just spend the whole time in a tourist bubble (which can be pretty asy to do!). I always say that to get the full experience of a place you can’t just do the top things to do there, as often these are catered towards tourists and you’d be surpsised how many locals don’t actually do the tourist things in their own country! If you do your research ahead of time (refer to 2!), then you can find loads of stuff (depending on where you are) to do that are more in tune with everyday life where you are going, especially in bigger cities. Apps or websites like TripAdvisor, Groupoon and Airbnb Experiences tend to have lovely experiences you can do when in different citires around the world, a lot of which would include more of the everyday activites and are often led by locals themesevlse so you can get a better sense of the city. In Madrid, for example, you can join onto a meetup where different people from around the world come together to learn and make new friends and in Barcelona you could explore the city with a local as your guide. Going to Split? Why not learn Croatian on the beach? If you’re ever in Lima how about a cooking class in a local’s home? Okay, you get the idea…
Granted, if you are somewhere for only a short period of time and don’t have much time to do a lot, you may just want to see the big attractions, and that’s fine too! Like I said, often these are definitely (almost always) worth doing. If you have the time and money though, I definitely recommend the above – it’s always more fun seeing things from a different perspective :).
4. Get Busy!
This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s definitely what I like to do. To me, there are two general types of holidays – the relaxing holiday and the exploring holiday. The relaxing holiday is one geared around – as the name suggests – relaxing. It’s more about that chilling-by-the-pool-not-having-to-move-a-muscle kind of vibe, and enjoying calm and serenity. The exploring holiday is about just that – exploring. It’s about discovering somewhere new and all the fun things that come with it. I tend to go for the latter, or at least a exploring-heavy mix of the two and so I am pretty much always busy during my holidays. Bear in mind, keeping busy doesn’t necessarily mean constantly doing something active – it could just be going to a local café for a few hours or kicking back on a beach somewhere. Basically, it’s anything that takes you away from whatever hotel/hostel/campsite you’re staying at, and being out and about instead.
I always try and find something to do wherever I go. My restless nature combined with my curiosity will not allow for me to visit somewhere without seeing as much as I possibly can. That’s one of the reasons I’ve loved Study Abroad so much, as I’ve had five wonderful months to live in, explore and experience this incredible country of New Zealand. I’ve had some pretty amazing trips to some pretty impeccable places, making irreplaceable memories along the way. I’ve already talked about my two-week extravaganza hopping around the South Island that I did over the Easter Break (if you have the time, be sure to read it!), but even just when in and around Wellington I like to fill my time with little adventures. I’ll be talking about these a little bit more in detail over the next upcoming posts so stay tuned to read all about it!
And with that I end my mini-travel guide. If you have any questions, comments or rebuttals (I’m always open to more/better suggestions!), feel free to get in touch! You can email the ambassadors email to get in touch with any ambassador, and you can reference this post or myself (Patricia Waibochi :]) if you would like to speak to me directly.
Till next time!