Perhaps the biggest shift in the tourism industry over the last decade is how package holidays have declined in popularity.
Nowadays, there’s a much greater desire to really explore – to see those parts of countries that are outside of the usual tourist itineraries.
The good news is that – in the vast majority of places – most of these problems are minor, and this simple guide is here to talk you through why!
Solo or group?
The first thing to consider is whether you’ll be travelling on your own (which many see as a rewarding rite of passage) or in a group.
Both approaches have their positives and negatives. Going solo brings ultimate freedom, but also demands responsibility. Group travel means there’s always someone to share experiences and decisions with, but this can mean individual itineraries become compromised.
A pro tip: if you are going with a friend, make sure it’s not someone that’s going to make you more anxious. Also, agree a broad schedule together before going – this will minimise friction on the road.
Do your research
This can’t be stated enough. Wherever you’re going, at this point you can pretty much guarantee you won’t be the first (sorry). Which means there’ll already be a wealth of information online, from currency details to accommodation reviews, seasonal weather to packing essentials, travel schedules to cultural etiquette.
Ask yourself what you’re most worried about – and look it up. Make notes. Save bookmarks. Preview what it’s like to wander the streets in Google Street View, if that’ll make you feel more confident.
One of the great things about our connected world is how much you can learn about a place before arriving there (of course, good guidebooks, paper maps, phrasebooks or even a picture guide can also make helpful companions).
And remember you can always pre-book many aspects of your stay before setting off these days, if you think that will help.
A natural consequence of your research will be learning what you should take with you to the destination in question. Now, if this includes medication, insect repellent (and so on), try not to focus on the worst case scenario. Instead, frame it as you being prepared for anything – in the unlikely event it happens.
You can’t control every detail of your trip (good or…less good) but you can prepare. And, if you’re prepared, you’ll have more control. It’s even possible you might end up being fine yourself, but are in a position (with knowledge and packed essentials) to help someone else.
A couple of universals – appropriate footwear will always repay the investment and a smartphone is an incredibly flexible resource (don’t forget your charger – and adaptor!) Likewise, if you have a pre-existing medical condition, do make sure you have more than enough medication for the trip.
A new environment can be overwhelming for all of us – especially if it’s very different from home.
Always remember – this is your trip, and you only have to do what you’re comfortable doing. Budget your time and energy just as you budget your money – allow enough to really enjoy each activity (rather than just ticking it off a list).
Sometimes your plans will have to change. That’s OK. Again, with modern technology – or the advice of friendly locals – you’ll be able to find an alternative.
Anyway, I hope this has helped!
Until next time,