I was thinking about creating a packing list lately about essential things you should bring when going on any trip. It is hard, because every trip, vacation, adventure or quest, requires different things at different times. But as I worked through this conundrum (stay tuned, and don’t be surprised if I break down different list per season or destination. I have organizational OCD) I started thinking about all the things you can do on a trip. Which lead me to the list below. I thought about all the adventures, but these are the things I do every. single. time I travel. It is important to immerse yourself in everything, but I think it is important to do these 9 things.
Let me break it down for you…
1). Keep a travel journal – I started this when I went to Europe in 2009, and journaled my whole trip. Complete with gluing in every train pass and bar receipt, coaster and venue ticket we had. I still do it to this day, for every trip, and love looking back on all the things I did and saw. The glued in pieces are reminders of all the fun things I saw, and the words help me remember the details.
(read about my travel journal idea on The Huffington Post!)
2). Challenge yourself to something new each day – Step outside your comfort zone. You never know what cool location is lurking around a corner you are too scared to see. Try something (anything) new.
3). Use your favorite guidebook – but use it sparingly – I swear by guidebooks, particularly Lonely Planet, but I don’t follow it to the tee. Use it as guideline, not the bible for your trip.
4). Go on a day trip outside the city – the main travel area you’re visiting is great. But by taking a day trip outside the city, you will most likely see how locals live. Sometimes, that sticks with you more than being in the touristy city.
5). Eat at a “local” place – When hanging outside the city, why not try a local restaurant not in the guidebook? Those little dives are usually the best!
6). Purchase a unique souvenir – When I was in Tokyo, I spent a few American dollars at a local market for a handmade, turquoise soy sauce dish, that I now put all my rings in. it was so cheap, but I love it more than anything.
7). Take public transportation – whether it is tuk tuk or local bus, get on there and enjoy. You will feel more like a local, and it is probably a lot cheaper than that stuffy taxi anyway.
8). Learn a few words in the local language, and actually use it – a simple “thank you” in the native language of wherever you are going will go a long way to locals. Give it a try, and smile as you do it. They know you are trying, so don’t feel stupid. Even better if you try for more words!
9). Look for the best neighborhood, and explore it on foot – you know the neighborhood you want to see, now go walk around it! Chat with locals, shop in the market, drink a coffee on a central bench and really soak. it. in. You will see so many things you never knew, and be so in awe of the life that is surrounding you.