9. Traveling is learning with fun:
Traveling is fun from the first minute. You can seek some really amazing moments anywhere in any condition. You need just positive attitude and a fun loving nature. If you can do this, nothing can stop you from having fun even a town on total strike day. If you are going to a new place, read some articles about the place. Go to Wikipedia or some other genuine reference sites and read whatever you can. Having a general idea of the place will not only give you an insight but also improve your absorbing level. There is no point in going to Pyramid of Tutankhamen in Giza if you are unaware of Egyptian culture, religion, rituals, and curses. Traveling is more like a movie sequel. You need to go through first part to understand the second part. First part is usually the history of the place. The second part is weather, geography, and economy. Last part is the visit. I met many tourists in Vietnam who know a lot about Vietnam War where China was backing Viet Cong. But they had no idea that later Vietnam had its own war with China and now Vietnam has very limited political relations with China.
10. Understand your priorities:
Time is an asset for a traveler and it needs to be disbursed very wisely. You need to prioritize your time. In a big city with hundreds of places to see, you need to find out – what is prominent and what is secondary according to your taste. If you are a history lover, your priority will be historical sites and museums instead of parks and zoos. It all depends on you. Always make a list and connect the dots with transit time between them. Transit time is something that cannot be reduced easily, so you need to adjust your visiting time. If I have an itinerary with 7 attractions in a day and my visiting time is 6 hours and transit time is 3 hours, I will adjust those 6 hours according to my priorities. If somehow, I could save a little time from transit time, that will be a bonus and I can add the last attraction at last minute.
11. Don’t lock yourself:
Don’t lock yourself in your own castle. Some experiences require you to step out from your comfort zone and face the challenge. During a rafting trip in Rishikesh, my group came across a big rock protruding over the river. I saw some tourists were climbing over it to take a free jump into the water. Despite encouragement from fellow tourists and our guide, we refused to go up. Later in the hotel, we came to know that what we missed. We missed the famous Suicide point and an amazing view of the valley from the top of the rock. Because of we refused to leave our comfort zone. Same kinds of mistakes are repeated in case of local food. If you will ask a local dish to be prepared according to your taste, you will miss the authentic taste of the dish.
12. Change is imminent:
Change is a basic rule of life. It is more about now. It does not matter that how often you travel, every journey away from home is a harbinger of change in your attitude, lifestyle, mindset and sometimes appearance. Once you are on your own away from your friends, loved ones and colleagues, you will get plenty of time to look inside. You will know a lot about you and most of the time, you will be surprised. I was a flamboyant, hustler, and short-tempered person within office walls, but outside, I am cooler, more composed and more relaxed because I know that what I am doing now, it is earned in a hard way. A vacation is priceless and I will never let it be spoiled by any reason, not even by myself. Once your mind is open to change, these lessons will come naturally to you. Mankind is evolved while traveling from African realms to every corner of the world and when we stopped traveling, we stopped evolving. Look at the tribes stuck in remote islands. They did not invent computers, trains, and racing cars. Every great invention is the result of our curiosity to explore. But we lost a lot in this process. Our inventions are forcing us to work continuously and holding us in a web of mechanical life. People living in a thatched hut, deep in the forests without electricity or any basic commodity of urban life are happier and more relaxed. Why?
Because they still have plenty to explore and they are not running all the time. Once you will seek the essence of life, you will find it.
13. Learn to relax:
The first thing, you need to learn while traveling is “How to relax?” You need to loosen up, throw out the negative vibe and sink in the moment. If you are at a viewpoint looking at sunset in the valley, you cannot focus on the pending files on your desk or the stock market. You should not. You are here to recharge yourself and you’re over-exhausted mind. Those thousand pending tasks and plans; you can do at home. Instead, focus on that red ball in the sky spreading different hues on horizon and landscape bathed in amazing tints. You need to learn to live in that one moment. It’s not easy for most of the people but everyone, sooner or later get used to it. If you are finding it difficult to focus on the present, take a cup of coffee, pull a chair in the balcony, look outside and let yourself dissolved in the atmosphere. Believe me, you will be a different guy after that one cup of coffee.
14. learn to speak and listen:
As a traveler, you are highly dependent on your communication skills. You need to be comfortable to speak up your needs. Most of the service providers (hotels, restaurants, tour operators, guides, and authorities) tend to press people who do not speak clearly. If your room is missing the hot water, you need to go to reception and tell them clearly that “I need hot water in my room”. There are plenty of chances that you will get it on the first try even it was not included in the charges. We, humans, are prone to evaluate a person’s value from his verbal communication. If you are polite, you can laugh and you know few good words, the whole world will be happy to serve you. Don’t force people to do something, they do not want to do, but talk it out and work it out with them. You need to listen carefully. If you are not clear at any point, ask it again and again unless you are on the same page. In early years, I had a lot of problem with cab drivers because I never listened to them carefully. Once, I realized my mistake, I found cab drivers to be natural guides. They know more than any guide or guidebook. In 20 minute ride in a cab with a nice cab driver will update you with latest updates in the town and best tips to see the places. I saved a plenty of money following the advice of cab drivers. So speak nicely and listen carefully and you are in business.
15. Understand your limitations:
You need to understand your limitations. It’s a scary but true fact: getting ill or injured in an unknown place is a nightmare. Period.
There is a very fine line between adventure and stupidity. Half of the real travelers in the world come across difficult situations few times in a year. Reasons may be different but first reason is negligence and overconfidence. When you leave home, you also leave behind your familiar atmosphere. At a new place, you expose yourself to different air, different water composition and a whole new bunch of bacteria and micro-organism. Your body will respond slowly and that is the most crucial time when you have 90% chances of catching a cold, diarrhea, malaria, fever or any other health issue. I will cover this topic in details later in some solo post, but you need to be extra careful with “what you touch”, “what you eat”, “what you drink” and “where do you sleep”. My many friends who come to India usually face diarrhea and fever in the first week. I did an intensive study for this and I found that most victims entered India via airports in New Delhi or Mumbai and they spend a night or town in those megacities. These megacities have highly polluted air and water as well as almost collapsed sanitation system. Spending a night at such a place can leave you bedridden with fever or diarrhea after few days. Another precaution is needed during activities. Essence is – Be extra careful with your health and safety when you are traveling. If you have any health problem at home, avoid traveling to those countries who have limited medical services and low hygiene level.
16. The Journey inside:
Traveling is the best way to explore inside you. If you are facing any emotional issue or personal trouble, move out for a while. Take a vacation or small trip. The reason is – when you will have only you to talk, you will open up from inside. Keep aside 45 minutes each day thinking about your past and future. Early morning is the best time to do so. Whatever disturbing thoughts are plaguing your mind, just start throwing them out. Tell yourself “I am going out of this room and I am going to enjoy the whole day”. Once those 45 minutes are over, put a tight lid over those thoughts and leave them under the mattress for next 24 hours. After few days, you will realize that those thoughts are disappearing and one morning, you will find that there is nothing to disturb you. If something is there, it’s hope, new vigor to improve your life and make it better than before and from that moment, you will start really enjoy your journey. A journey is also taking place inside you from one phase of life to another. A traveler travel in both ways – outside and inside.