Table of Contents
- #1 Research the country or destination
- #2 Expect the unexpected
- #3 List the places you would want to visit
- #4 Research routes, public transport and tickets price
- #5 Keep your most important belonging safe and secure
- #6 Check weather forecast
- #7 Research the cuisine of the country (including menu recommendations)
- #8 Get information on the baggage policy and pack light
Are you excited about your vacation?
Traveling to distance places, exploring exotic destinations, getting to know the life of different people and countries, enjoying new culture, embracing an adventure, relaxing from daily (or yearly) work-related tasks and obligations, learning new languages, escaping the routine, rejuvenating body and mind – these are all the reasons we enjoy traveling. However, along with excitement comes somewhat boring, or exhausting part – the preparation and packing.
Some people need more time to learn the tricks related to packing, and eventually we all get to master those tricks, however, I am more interested in things we should do before packing, such as, for instance, consider the expectations we have, or prepare ourselves for unexpected. From my experience mental preparation for the trip is as important as everything else related to organization. We are often so excited that we envision or imagine the whole journey or experience and get disappointed once we get there.
I have always considered travelling one of the most important ways for a person to develop, mature, explore, and learn, reexamine values, principles and opinions. From my many traveling experiences, I have learned what needs to be done before we embrace the adventure. These are my suggestions to keep in mind before you even start packing.
#1 Research the country or destination
Apart from the usual information we need about foreign country – tradition, culture, habits, and customs are always different (unless you are traveling to a country that has a similar culture to yours, or that had many contacts in history, both culturally and geographically). This isn’t to say that you have to learn from books or travel guides about culture-related things, because you cannot, but you should be prepared for the fact that you may experience culture shock, as much as you believe you will not. Reading and experiencing are never the same.
#2 Expect the unexpected
Envisioning or idealizing the whole vacation or journey can be (is) very counterproductive. One should always stay open-minded, tolerant and receptive, or at least as much as one can, for the situations and things that might not go according to your plan, even starting from the most obvious disappointments, such as accommodation, food, or a travel guide to more complex ones.
#3 List the places you would want to visit
When I first traveled to Rome, I decided not to get sadden because I could not possibly visit all the places I wanted, thus I made a list of the most important sites and cultural monuments I wanted to see. I kept in mind that I will be returning to this beautiful city again, which I did, many times; however, the list I made the first time helped me organize my time better. No one can truly experience the city in 10 days, or even less, and this is the thought we should always bear in mind. Although, unfortunately, not everybody can return to the same city, and if so, make the first and only visit the best one.
#4 Research routes, public transport and tickets price
If on a tight budget (and even if not), getting to know the city before you visit it is a great asset. Check online for any info from either forums or local tourism offices to find out what is the best way to get to a certain part of the city, or the best and shortest way to a destination that is outside the city (often beautiful cultural monuments are usually located near, yet outside the city, especially in some of the largest cities in the world in Asia). Local guides and employees in local travel offices sometimes tend to charge more only to foreigners (I paid double when I was traveling from Cairo to visit cultural destinations in the south). If you know someone who had visited the place before, ask for their experience.
#5 Keep your most important belonging safe and secure
Your passport and similar important documents, and credit cards, are your most valuable things. The wise thing to do is to scan your passport (including passport photos) and paper tickets (unless they are in the e type) and store, for instance, in your web email account. Use an email account to store emergency phone numbers in case your credit card is stolen as well. For additional safety, one can even email the details of passport to the embassy. Your most valuable belonging also should be in your carry-on bag. Also, check your home security system and tell closest neighbor to keep an eye on your property until you return.
#6 Check weather forecast
I know people who often forget to check the weather, assuming that if they are traveling to warm countries, no rain or decline in temperature could happen. That’s not the case, and even if the forecast says it’s going to be warm, or hot, or even rainy, one should always keep in mind that the weather could change.
Food culture presents a unique experience wherever you travel, however, given the differences, one should make sure that new ingredients and food combinations don’t cause problems to digestive system or immunity. It is wise to bring allergy medications or any other medication that will be useful in case something bad happens. If you do have a sensitive stomach, it would be wiser not to experiment with different foods; it may ruin your vacation.
#8 Get information on the baggage policy and pack light
Most airlines permit at least one bag on flight, however, some charge additionally on domestic flights, for instance. It is a good plan to check your airline’s policy before you start packing. Carrying a lot of luggage is not recommended, luggage can be a burden. Try to pack light, choosing your clothes by color, and keep special attention to fabric. Do not forget you need space for gifts. All in all, pack mentally, that is, think about what you really need, not what you would want to pack, yet do not use.
Finally, for the best experience:
Don’t plan too much!
Do not get angry!
Be an explorer!
Have fun and enjoy!