Let us put "JOY" in your travel!
A true traveler knows that it’s not about how much money you spend when you go to a country. It’s about how much country you experience for your money. This fact seems to be lost on travelers who go to exotic locations like Fiji, Japan, or Costa Rica, only to spend their days cooped up in hotel rooms and lounging at pools. It never seems to occur to them that they could get the same experience without leaving the comfort of their home town!
As a backpacker, it’s entirely possible to spend 1/2 to 1/3 as much money as a luxury traveler and see 2 to three times as much of the country – not to mention all of the amazing experiences you’ll have by living outside of the travel bubble. However, you must follow these three unbreakable rules if you want to achieve travel nirvana.
Rule 1: Always Say Yes
When in a foreign country, the first few days can sometimes be uncomfortable. Culture shock can take hold of your nervous system and cause you to say no to activities that you would really enjoy. When you first arrive in the country, make sure to get yourself oriented to the way that things are done. It’s also good to do some research before you arrive so you can minimize the effects of culture shock.
When you arrive at your hostel, you’re going to be bombarded by people from all around the world: locals, backpackers, and long-term travelers. All of them have different life experiences and different interests.
Your goal is to expose yourself to as many of these as possible!
If a new roommate asks if you want to go get dinner, say yes!
If you’re coming back from dinner and a group of them are going out to the bars, say yes!
There is no excuse for refusing any activity when you’re on the road. You never know what activity will set up a chain of events that leads to an absolutely amazing and unforgettable experience.
Rule 2: Protect Your Cash
If you’re following Rule 1, chances are good that you’re going to get yourself into some “interesting” situations. You need to make sure that you are minimizing risk of theft. Fortunately, this is very simple to do.
While on the road, your most important possession is your stash of money. Virtually anything else can get stolen from you and you’ll be completely fine, but without any money you’ll find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place. Make sure to split up your money into at least three different bundles, and keep them all in separate places. One should be tightly secured to your body, another should be hidden away in your backpack, and the last one should be stashed in your daily travel bag.
Rule 3: Don’t Be a Tourist!
You’ve probably been traveling and seen the classic “tourist,” someone who was there to simply look and admire a foreign country, not experience it. The last thing you want to do is be a tourist in the countries that you visit. Instead, you should seek to experience that country as a local might: authentically and realistically.
While visiting popular tourist destinations isn’t a bad thing, or member to take them for what they are: simply historical landmarks that have stood the test of time. The real country is underneath the surface. It is found in the relationships you make with locals, exploring random streets, trails, and alleyways, and the food and culture you’ll experience. Most people simply think that if they go and see the Empire State building and the Statue of Liberty that they will have experienced New York City. They couldn’t be further from the truth.
These three tips will greatly increase the amount of pleasure you get out of your backpacking experience. At the same time, they will help you avoid some of the most expensive and outrageously wasteful experiences that you can have while in a different country. They will also help you travel on a budget while keeping yourself safe. Now get out there and make some memories!
This is a post by Andras Deak, an part-time guest-blogger and a full-time travel advisor. He works for Timeless Travel, a UK based online travel store specialized on package holidays and fly-drive vacation trips all over in the US and Canada. Andras likes to travel too, his favorite places are in Asia and in Micronesia: Kho Phi Phi Islands and French Polynesia are his personal all-time tops.