We millennials are a restless bunch.
We dream of cities beyond the borders of our tiny country and quaint little towns with their quaint little shops. We fantasize about hiking up mountains and taking a dip in crystal clear seas. We’re restless for travel and are constantly in wait for our next big adventure.
And when that time comes, when the tickets are booked and the arrangements have been made, we tend to go about the trip in a way that compromises on our experience. We don’t get the most out of the trip we’ve saved long and hard for.
There’s a ton of advice out there on how to make the best of your trip, but not all of them are great–at least not to me. Here are some choice ones I think you’re much better off ignoring.
1. “Plan plan plan.”
Planning in itself isn’t bad. In certain situations, it can be absolutely necessary, like when there are a million things you want to accomplish but only 2 days to do it in. If that’s the case, plan away. Don’t let me get in your way.
But if you have the time (and money) to spare, ditch the detailed itinerary that tells you where you should be at exactly what time, and exchange that for some good ol’ spontaneity. Between going to all the attractions you already know are good and eating all the food you already know are the best in the country, there’s very little space for this new city to surprise you.
In a time when there’s an app or a website that give you reviews and ratings on every part of your travel experience, it might feel like an experience is only worth having if it’s the best–or at least, really good. But you don’t need to experience the best of everything.
If what you’re seeking is an authentic, live-like-a-local experience of the country, the best things to eat, best places to shop at, or best things to do in a country are not necessarily a true reflection of the place (*cough* Marina Bay Sands, *cough*). For a truly authentic and memorable experience, get lost. Literally get off the path well traveled. Try things, even if there’s a chance it won’t be good. Who knows, it just might be the most memorable part of your trip. After all, the best things in life are rarely planned.
2. “Take lots of photos.”
Whenever we take a trip, one of the first things to go into our luggage are our cameras, followed by our chargers. That, or we clear out space in our phones to make way for new photos and new memories. You can’t go on a trip and not take photos, right?
I think if anything, taking photos takes away from our experience and hinders us from making memories. These days, it seems like we experience every special moment through some type of screen. We spend more time photographing a beautiful landscape than we do just reveling in it. We take pictures of food without appreciation of the culture surrounding it. We visit beautiful places only to take photos of it.
You didn’t come all this way and spend all that money just to experience a country through a screen. Set aside your phones. It’s more important to capture these memories in your head than it is to have them stored away in your phone.
3. “Always go with someone.”
People often say to travel in a group–the more the merrier. I disagree. Not only do you waste precious time in a new, exciting place waiting around for people to wake up and get ready, you constantly have to accommodate other people and there’s always the possibility of conflict when you’re all in each other’s faces all day, for weeks.
Instead of spending time grabbing a bunch of people to go overseas with you, consider traveling solo. Not only do you get the time and space to contemplate your life and yourself, you also get to meet new, interesting people, and soak up a new culture at your own pace.
4. “Always trust what the locals tell you.”
While it’s probably safe to trust a local to tell you where to get great food, you might want to think twice when it comes to places to visit. Many locals assume tourists only want to visit the same few places and recommend only what they think you like–which may be far from what you’re actually looking for.
Always give places a quick check online or ask around more before jumping on a local’s recommendations!
5. “If you can’t speak their language, you shouldn’t go there.”
It can be daunting to visit someplace where you can’t communicate well–or at all. How do I order food? What if I need to go to the restroom? While these are real concerns, don’t write off a travel destination out of fear you’ll be completely helpless once you get there.
There are many ways to work around this problem–you just have to be creative about it. You can do your homework in advance and figure out what apps would be handy to have while there. Translation and travel apps are usually a big help. If all else fails, there’s always pointing. Just make sure you have something to point to, like an address (hotels and places of interest), pictures and logos. There’s always a workaround. It just takes a little more effort.