Good travelers are made, not born
Learning how to be a good traveler takes time and experience, and it’s a life-long process. Whether you’re embarking on your first trip or already a seasoned globetrotter, there’s always more to know, always a breathtaking wonder of the world you’ve never seen waiting just over the horizon.
Only you can change your life. No one can do it for you.
This article is for beginning and experienced travelers: singles, doubles and various family combinations of all ages and sizes. That may seem like a diverse group to try and cover in just one site’s category, but I don’t think so. Most of us who catch the travel bug when we’re young end up becoming many different kinds of travelers in the course of a life-time. Yesterday’s crying baby on the plane is today’s embarrassed teenager on the family vacation who is very likely to become tomorrow’s parent with child in transit. And any traveler who’s come through all of those experiences with the love of travel intact has a great shot at becoming one of those cool senior citizen travelers who’s been all over the world and has a million interesting stories to tell. This post is for you — all of you. No matter what the demographic, travelers from all walk of life and levels of experience need to use common sense. I have learned a few things about the nature of it in the course of my travels. For starters:
- Common sense is an acquired skill (like traveling).
- It doesn’t matter if it’s acquired second hand (and it usually is).
- It doesn’t take up any extra space in your bag.
- It can save you a world of headaches.
I want to share a few tips and opinions with you and show you some good ways to maximize travel’s upside by minimizing its potential downside. Travel websites are supposed to encourage travel, but there’s no way to tell you how to avoid the pitfalls without discussing them honestly: the canceled flight, the lost reservation, the regrettable decision to order the special sauce, and other forms of unexpected “turbulence.” There are plenty of ways to keep such things from happening in the first place or at least to deal with them effectively when they catch you by surprise.
When we travel, we voyage into the unknown the interesting, the exciting and the unpredictable. It’s all part of the journey. And that’s usually a good thing. But when it’s not, try to remember this: Travel situations that aren’t the best experiences can be very helpful lessons learned after the fact. And they often make for the best stories. Of course, this type of optimism is cold comfort when you’re precariously seated in the restroom of a train traveling 60 mph over a rough section of track in southern France and you suddenly discover there’s no toilet paper. But we can learn valuable lessons from awkward experiences.
Tip: Always carry one of those travel-size packages of tissues with you especially when you travel by train. Stepping back from specifics for a moment, the guiding principle of traveling well is this: When it comes to encountering the unknown or the unexpected, the prepared traveler is much more likely to experience the joy of serendipity. Being a prepared traveler is more than just knowing what to pack and how to pack it up (although we’ll talk about that later). It’s knowing how to approach the many facets of travel with common sense, good humor and an independent spirit of adventure, regardless of your age, gender or family dynamics. Being well-prepared for your trip may not guarantee a smooth ride, but it’s the best way I know to steer clear of the bumps in the road.
All the Best
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