Quick Tip #5: Use a Guidebook as a Resource, not a Bible

Finding the perfect guidebook is like finding the perfect travel companion who just happens to know everything – well, almost everything.

With so many dependable travel guides lining the shelves of your favourite bookstore, it can be tempting to use them like a magic eight ball, whispering questions softly as you flip through the pages for an answer oozing with wisdom and dripping with the experience of the author who has directed hundreds, maybe thousands to the best accommodations, eateries and top things to see wherever your travels have taken you.

Unfortunately, the problem is just that; everyone who has ever traveled to that very same destination has frequented the exact same places creating an experience that has almost been predestined from the get go! Use your guidebook as a resource if you’re unsure or uncomfortable at any point during your travels; for example, if you find yourself in a city where lodging can be dangerous, it’s not a bad idea to book at a hotel/hostel that has been reviewed by a travel expert in order to avoid unnecessary complications along the way. Utilize the language tips, read the history section and by all means, take full advantage of the maps provided therein. But don’t – I repeat – do not rely solely on your guidebook when it comes to determining what is, and what isn’t worth seeing along the way. Not only do people naturally have different interests but one country or city simply cannot be turned upside down by the author of one guidebook, no matter how incredibly wise he/she may seem.

Keep in mind that normally, the most memorable adventures or those that we stumble upon by accident. Pick one or two restaurants that is highly recommended and include it in your itinerary but venture outside the book.

One more tip? Be sure to source multiple experts before taking off. Even guidebooks have biases and are often partnered with organizations, hotel chains, restaurants etc on the ground. Later on, I’ll take you through some of my favourite guidebooks for any type of holiday, on any budget … stay tuned!

Quick Tip #3: Be a Chameleon: Adapt to Your Surroundings

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” Clifton Fadiman

One of the hardest thing for new travelers to do is take that initial step outside their comfort zone. Let’s be honest: the idea of jumping head first into discovering a country whose language, culture, food, religion and practices are drastically different from your own, is scary! The good news is it doesn’t have to be, not for long anyways. The secret? Be the lizard. Not necessarily slimy and green, but able to adapt to your surroundings and blend in with your environment. Over the course of your travels, your frustrations will directly mirror the amount of effort you put into letting go of the old and embracing the brand-spanking new; sound hard? It’s really not.

Here are 3 steps to ensure that you avoid a meltdown once you step off the plane and into a brave new (foreign) world:

Do your research: I can’t emphasize enough the importance of doing your research prior to takeoff. If you’re really time strapped, take a guidebook in your carry on and substitute it for your on-flight entertainment. Read about things that shape a society and a culture; learning a little about everything from religion to agriculture will help you better understand the people around you once you set foot on the ground.

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Quick Tip #1: Packing Light? Roll Your Clothes!

#1: Packing for a journey overseas can be exhausting. Depending on how long you’re traveling and what type of activities you have planned, you’ll need a wardrobe that is versatile, flexible and just as ready to live up to the spontaneous nature of travel as the person underneath.

What to bring and what not to bring? That question we’ll cover in another post. For now, just remember that if you’re trying to pack light, it’s important to conserve as much space as possible. A great way to do this is by rolling your clothes instead of folding them! Rolling your clothes will save you a lot of space and won’t wrinkle garments, despite popular belief. Order your garments in order of need and accessibility based on how many times you’ll be using each particular item.

Packing is suppose to be part of the fun! So, get rolling and don’t forget to leave room for souvenirs! Happy Travels!