I have traveled to about 7 different countries. I often get asked by friends and family, or even just acquaintances on advice when traveling. Through all that, I have come up with a few things that one should do or not do when traveling. This is not an exhaustive list so please feel free to add some of your experiences in the comments.
Do be prepared. This may seem like an easy one, but often people don’t think to be prepared. Guys, keep your wallets out of your pocket in huge crowds. Ladies, take precautions with your purses. This doesn’t mean that you have to have everything strapped to your chest, but don’t have it all open and easy to get to. Most places you go you will meet great people, but everywhere also has some crummy ones. Go in prepared for any circumstance. Make copies of your passport, keep money on you, watch your bank accounts, etc.
Don’t over do it. This especially applies to going through the airport. Have your electronics and liquids easily accessible. Too much stuff can be more harm than good and make you clumsy. Don’t wear so much that you struggle getting through. Even when you get to your destination don’t over do it. The best way to see a place is to not do it like a tourist. By all means, take your pictures! Then, put the camera down and just experience life. This is especially important when you are going somewhere for a longer time.
Do research where you’re going. I LOVE to google places and look into things. Know what is going on in the news where you are planning to be. Check out what EVERYONE says. The more you know the better you can tailor your very own itinerary. Not everyone loves books and coffee shops and not everyone loves museums; so keep looking until you find what you love. If they speak a language foreign to you try to learn a few phrases. Know a few landmarks so JUST IN CASE you won’t get lost.
Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path. This is a BIG one. I mean, definitely go to the tourist-y places. You kind of HAVE to go there. Then, go somewhere random. Find the hole in the wall places. These will often be the best part of your trip. If you did the previous one properly then you will know which beaten paths are safe and unsafe. This leads to the last two…
Do try something new. New can mean a variety of things. Try a new coffee, a new dessert, a new style…the possibilities are endless. You are in another part of the world and you may not be there again. Try something new, then, love it or hate it, try something else new! You will be so surprised at the things all around the world that you never knew you could love so much. If there is something you already know you love, try it their way…or even the RIGHT way. Try foreign food you already love but in the way it is supposed to be made. You might be shocked at the difference that makes.
Don’t forget to ask the locals. They always know the best spots. Ask several. Turn the street and ask another. You may never know what was hiding right under your nose. Even where you live now there are places that you love, or chains that you have a favorite location. Locals in other parts of the world are the same. So ask them for the best coffee, best customer service, best place with a view, etc. They all have their own favorites that just might become yours.