So you’re planning (or maybe already on your way?) your dream trip abroad? Congratulations! When it comes to international travel, sometimes just getting there is half the battle.
But once you’re on the road, don’t forget why you left in the first place. Way too many backpackers come home and hardly remember their trip, or get too homesick to reach their goals and head home early.
Don’t be one of those people! Keep these 8 tips in mind and have zero regrets when backpacking abroad.
Get out of your comfort zone
This is a no brainer – not many people would travel because they’re not interested in seeing or doing something new – but you’ll be surprised just how far you can push yourself in a foreign land when you have an open mind. Not only will you remember your trip better when you engage in activities outside of the norm, you’ll also grow and improve yourself as a person.
Do as the locals do
Remember that you may only be in this new country once in your entire life. While you could revert back to your usual daily habits, why not pretend to be a local for a while? Instead of going grocery shopping at the most familiar name brand supermarket, check out the nearest farmer’s market for some fresh, local produce. Whenever you can, try learning some of the local tongue or the most authentic home grown cuisine you can get your hands on. Talk to the locals, they’re usually very happy to share their own culture and will be impressed that you have such an interest in their daily lives!
Stop being a tourist, be a traveller
Tourists follow the crowd, take a few selfies by the Colosseum and move on. Travellers take the roads less travelled and explore with a passion! They live and breathe the local culture. Of course I’m not suggesting you skip the Opera House in Sydney, I’m telling you to widen your horizons and discover what makes you happy. Perhaps get lost in the narrow cobblestone streets with gelato in hand, or take a free walking tour in Budapest with a local guide. Not only will you get a richer experience abroad, you’ll save money too!
Meet other people
Push away any signs of homesickness by surrounding yourself with other people. Everyone has different views and sometimes it’s very refreshing and hilarious to talk to people from other cultures. Staying in a hostel or joining a free walking tour is a superb way to meet other friendly people from all around the world!
Staying in 5-star hotels and eating out every meal won’t do your wallet any favours, plus you’ll miss out on making friends, meeting locals and opening yourself up to new cultures. Think about it this way: the more money you have, the longer you can travel. The longer you can travel, the more you can see!
Write it all down
Our memories are not as good as we think they are. According to science, our memories are discoloured with other parts of our lives and can often be completely false. Better write it down so you get the real story! Not only is keeping a journal a great keepsake, it is also therapeutic. Many people make it into a quasi-scrapbook by saving business cards, maps, pressed leaves, etc.
Take less photos
Yes, really. In the age of the Smartphone, iPad, DSLR and GoPro, I see way too many people focusing more on their next Instagram post than what’s lying right in front of them. Rather than using your camera like a machine gun, absorb what you’re seeing. Everything is better in person. Take it all in, then make a video or take a few high-quality snapshots. It will be less stressful sorting through thousands of photos or days of video when you get home – that’s IF you ever get the chance to go through it all!
Live in the moment
Like I said, travelling shouldn’t be about your next Facebook post or how many activities you can cram into your vacation. Practicing mindfulness – the act of living in the present and not dwelling on the past or future – will help you get a richer experience during your trip. You’ll remember things better, feel less anxiety (including FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out), stress less and simply find more happiness in what you’re doing now.
You might only get one chance to travel in your life (and many of us are not so lucky), make the most of every minute and regret nothing when you get back home!
How do you make the most of your trips abroad?