Posts Tagged ‘ journey ’

How to Make the Most of Your Travel Experience

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Venice

Been thinking about this for a while. I love traveling myself, and it’s usually solo or with a couple of friends. I abhor group tours. For me, travel is all about the experience. To make the most of it, you need to get out of your comfort zone! Unless you like 5/7 star resort & first class travel. This is definitely not that kind.

There’s a joy to independent travel that, for me, is unmatched. It’s all about discovery & through that, the experience. Of truly soaking in what this unknown place is about, what are the people like, what kind of culture exists.

To really make the most of your travel experience, you need to:

1. Read about your destination: This shouldn’t be a task. It’s part of the process of understanding the destination & understanding your own plan. Apart from the LonelyPlanet guides, there are many online resources for each destination, forums that give you helpful tips, & people you can connect with. It helps to read & can be far better than simply trusting one guide.

2. Make your own itinerary: This sounds tough, but isn’t really. Reading helps you get an idea of the places to see. But no travel agent determined itinerary can ever be as effective as your own. Your travel agent doesn’t know you. Would you ask him/ her to buy you a book, or clothes? An itinerary is all about personal choice. Do you love art, do you love nightlife, do you love monuments or do you simply want to laze? These make a huge difference to what you ultimately ‘see’. After all it’s your holiday, you shouldn’t be groaning about going off to see one more monument if you don’t like it. There are many itineraries also available on the web (which travel agents anyway pick up). You can customise it based on what you want.

3. Don’t run through a country like a train: There are many tempted to do that. ‘We have come hSunset in Florenceere just once, who knows when we will be back’, ‘we have spent so much money on the trip’ Sure, everyone wants VFM. But don’t attempt to measure your money spent by no of places you have been to. It’s meant to be a leisure trip not a balance sheet calculation. There is joy in walking around a town, stopping where you want to stop, chatting with locals, watching that street performer, enjoying that sunset. That’s what you will remember above all the ‘sightseeing’.

4. Meet the locals: Easier said than done… but even if going in a group, try not to just hang out by yourselves. People are friendly. I have yet to visit a place where a majority of the people were surly (unless they were govt employees!) if you smiled and said hello. We tend to forget in our big city living, that people do smile back. In fact when you speak to locals, they may give you different tips or places to see than a guidebook would have. I have had many amazing experiences because of that – which i would have missed otherwise. Of course, don’t go finding a conman!

5. Try the local cuisine: The local food and drink at any place is better than running into Yummy salad with pouches of goat cheesea McDonalds or any such standardised option. Why? Don’t you think Indian food is a big part of what India is? It’s the same for any other country. Am not saying have frog legs or kangaroo meat! But try and have what you can, it adds to the memories. This is coming  from a vegetarian, so good food is there to find. So also the wine and cheese if famous in that region.

6. Allow a few changes in plan: Not everything goes according to plan. You may miss a train, you may want to stay back somewhere, you may run out of time. It’s ok. You are still on holiday in an amazing place. Just enjoy it without guilt or agitation.

7. Put that camera down sometimes!: As someone who takes hundreds and thousands of pictures, I know how tempting it is to keep clicking away, trying to capture every moment in that camera frame. You can’t. Take enough pictures, but don’t forget put that camera down and just take in the view. The mind remembers more than you think. A beautiful landscape is meant to be taken in slowly, immersing yourself into it… so don’t let the gadget come between you and nature.

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