I’ve written rants and love letters about traveling plenty a time and the reason for that is simple:
TRAVELING IS THE BEST!
It’s the best when it comes to gaining perspective on life, making new friends, learning about what it really means to respect the little things, I could go on and on and on. Instead of drowning y’all underneath the flood of praise I thought I’d simply list a couple things here why the ones of yous, who for some inexplicable reason, have NOT yet discovered traveling should go and discover it ASAP.
And for everyone else this should act as a reminder of everything you have actually gained when you chose to venture beyond your own borders.
Kindness of strangers
This is a fact that we seem to keep forgetting about in these turbulent times of fake news and violence all over the place. But for real, underneath all the negativity, 90% of us peeps are bloody brilliant people and completely worth meeting!
It is a priceless experience to meet someone, somewhere who eventually becomes a lifelong friend, a connection who brings together you and your dream job, or the inspiration that you needed when paddling in the pool of everyday work-life grayness.
As an example, some of the people I’ve met along my trips include
- 2 girls who have become my absolute best friends,
- a graphic designer from England who designs alcohol brands for Finnish clients,
- a lesbian girl escaping her religious family’s anger to another country,
- and a woman who inspires me to this day with her style and cool personality and who now works for the UN.
On an extra note; a new HSBC survey found that 1 in 50 travelers has even found love on a plane so it’s time we start considering travel as the endless array of opportunities that it provides every time.
Packing is not a stressing-matter
As I’ve gotten older I’ve started to notice certain OCD tendencies in my behavior when it comes to certain things. Such things include packing a suitcase; I have a strict routine when it comes to collecting the pieces to take along and assembling them like a puzzle into my suitcase.
But unlike many people, who push the packing process to the very last minutes before departure, I’ve made this process an enjoyable thing to do. Some people like cleaning, others enjoy going running. I like to look at packing as something that might be an unpleasant feat, but which you can make into an enjoyable activity.
It’s all about planning couple outfits, collecting the pieces from your closet into one place and then assembling them into the bag. It’s that simple. And if you are the kind who is afraid of always forgetting something, stress not! There’s nothing so special that you couldn’t purchase from your destination (excluding perhaps certain medicine and such more serious things but you’d probably pack them first anyway).
Make dinner reservations
I don’t recommend scheduling too much on any trips; the best way to enjoy traveling is to leave time for wandering around and bumping into surprises. But if you enjoy good food, booking a couple dinner reservations per location is a must! Nothing is more frustrating than wandering around aimlessly, looking for a pizza place while they keep avoiding you.
No! Instead google the best place beforehand, book a table and just turn up. Having not booked beforehand too many times, I can vouch for the practical importance of booking a table or two.
Leave unplanned time for yourself
And continuing on that theme, when it comes to traveling less is more. Sure, it’s good to perhaps research your destination a little bit beforehand so that you know which sights you’d like to experience, but booking the whole holiday FULL of places to see with a timetable for achieving this, is a 100% sure way to make your vacation a shit one.
I would know, I’ve been on one such trip… I usually just want to chill, so I let my travel companions do the research and decide themselves what they want to see and do. I tend to have just one or 2 must-see places per location. But this one time I didn’t remember what a control-freak my travel companion was. She had an actual timetable for our 5-day trip to Paris.
She also wanted to walk from one destination to the next (which she had included in her calculations when composing the schedule). Having danced semi-professionally when I was younger, I must tell you that my legs have never hurt as much as they did after Day 2 in Paris. But since we’re Finns we completed the entire timetable one day early. Which then meant in her mind that no, no! we must add more things to the schedule.
At which point I noted that there happens to be this thing called Palace of Versaille, which you didn’t include to your prescious schedule, but which I absolutely have to see, so either I go alone or you join but I’m going. AND I’M TAKING THE TRAIN!
So, my darling reader, do not go overboard with your travel plans. When you leave “loose” time for yourselves to just wander around and chill on a terrace people watching you will probably bump into something or someone that makes that vacation the unique and amazing experience that it should be.
Local guides make a difference
When you book a package-holiday the guides are usually from your country. Which is OK, I mean their job is to tell you the basic facts about the destination, etc. But a local guide always makes a huge difference.
Whether it’s a pre-booked tour in the location or just a random person who’s willing to share their knowledge of the place, you will always discover interesting local facts that no tourist guide probably knows. And those snippets of inside info are one of the things that make a vacation memorable.
Try something new every time
Whether it’s a local delicacy, scuba diving or using local public transport, it’s always an experience because it’s not what you would already know or what you’re used to. And you’ll never know just how much you might be missing out on if you do not pluck up the courage and try out something new that, at first thought, might seem like not-that-great an idea.
I’ll give you an example: when I lived in Scotland I did try haggis, but I didn’t try a deep-fried Mars bar. And I still regret it!
Travel is the best educator
Amen, amen, aaaaaaaameeen! When you’re in a place where people look different and think differently to you, you have to adapt a bit. Even on a holiday you have to respect the local opening hours and certain cultural norms (like covering your shoulders when entering a church, etc.).
For some people such adapting turns out to be too much to ask (pointing the finger at certain Russian and British tourists) but most of us thankfully have enough brain capacity in our use that we can respect others enough to comply accordingly. And when you do, you might suddenly realize that their way of doing certain things might be better than the way things are done back at home.
The world has already gotten so small and with extremists running wild with permission (I mean, wtf, when did Nazis become legal again?!) it’s more important than ever to understand and respect the fact that we’re all different. Even within one culture, we are all individuals, and individuals differ from each other.
You get what you pay for
If you pay 40€/night for accommodation you shouldn’t be too surprised if your bathroom doesn’t include soap or a bathtub, or if the service at your chosen venue is poor or even nonexistent (the amount of complaints on Tripadvisor for poor service at places that cost next to nothing is on the verge of being ridiculous).
And on the other hand, if you pay 140€/night you can expect a breakfast that’s fit for a king and that all services in your room and in the hotel function perfectly.
Budget travel is very popular and I myself tend to go for the cheaper option as well. But it’s always cheap for a reason. And it’s always a bit nerve-wrecking to check in to one of these places because you never know what might be waiting. But if you want to avoid such nervous situations, then you gotta dig deeper in your wallet.
Something will go wrong
Continuing along the previous point’s lines, there is no trip where everything would always go exactly according to plan. It’s just an impossibility. But something going wrong is usually something as small as missing a train or a flight being late. We’ve probably all been there, done that, right?
And then there are those cases where the Air BnB turns out to be an abandoned house or the whole crew catches food poisoning. But 90% of the time these are minor things that we can all get over with a smile. For example, on one of our family trips someone broke their ankle and another one fell asleep by the pool ending up, literally, bright red on one side for the next couple of weeks.
But they’re both still alive and fine, and we all laugh about those things now.
Travel is always fun
Just like in the aforementioned case of burning yourself very seriously, it was actually hilariously funny for the rest of us, and now, in hindsight, to that particular person as well. Even my time in London, which was one of the toughest times of my life, now seems like one of the most important life lessons and experiences ever.
And actually I have fond memories of the time! Of the people I met there and the fact that getting a job in London was my first ever big dream and a life goal, and I achieved it at the age of 20! Because the fact is, no matter how much might go wrong, the pros always outweigh the cons in the long run!
I look forwards to gaining more memorable encounters and experiences on my next travels! In October I will be traveling back to 2 of my favourite cities in Europe, Vienna and Bratislava, and to the Tatra mountains for a wee weekend hike. I’m also planning trips to St. Petersburg and Stockholm but those are not booked yet.
I would love to hear what it is that makes you travel again and again, always to new locations. What’s the appeal for you? :)