Whilst travel is generally hugely enjoyable for most of us, hence its popularity, it can also be a source of stress, especially when travelling alone, travelling on a budget or when you don’t speak the language, for example. In fact, there are all kinds of stresses that can be encountered when on the road.
So how do you ensure that all your travels are happy and you don’t wind up more stressed than you would be if you’d stayed in that office job in the city?
Travelling is an opportunity
Some of us like to think that travel is all about self-discovery. Those of us that have read ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ might think that we can experience the same voyage of self-discovery that the author did, but this is not always the case. Travel is very much like everything else. It’s what you put into it. And what you put into it is what you will get out of it. Don’t sit around waiting for fabulous experiences to find you, get out there and seize the opportunity you have for travel with both hands and don’t give up until you are having tremendous fun.
Don’t expect to have amazing adventures if you spend your spare time Facebooking from internet cafes or watching movies on your computer in your hostel. Be prepared to walk, climb, get off the beaten track, risk sounding stupid in another language, get Delhi belly (or Barcelona belly) and take the wrong route sometimes. Life is not a package tour.
Guidebooks, an important source of information
Another tip is to always buy the guidebook. These contain an invaluable amount of data from taxi costs to hostels to what to eat, where to go and how to get there, and where not to go and how not to get there. Really, even if you’re only going on a weekend city trip, we’d recommend buying or borrowing a fairly up to date guidebook such as Rough Guide or Lonely Planet.
With your guidebook in hand, plan at least the first leg of your trip. Whether that’s a couple of nights in a hostel in Barcelona; the name and address of the campsite you are going to when your plane lands and how you are going to get to it etc. Arriving in a new land without anywhere to stay can be stressful and is unnecessary. Once you’ve got to grips with the place and learned a few words of the language if you need to, then you can drift off course and be as unplanned as you want, if that’s what floats your boat. But if you have a tendency to stress, then book ahead if it makes you feel less anxious.
If you know someone in the place where you are landing or have a friend of a friend or even an aunt of a friend of a friend, then their local knowledge will be invaluable and may help you avoid wasting your precious time and money.
Try to engage with the locals. If you don’t speak the language and they don’t speak yours, you can usually get quite far on a broad smile and a pointy finger. If you are friendly, generally you will encounter helpful and friendly people.
The main thing is to not get stressed. Make sure you have good quality insurance, more than one payment method in case you lose a card or it’s not accepted in some areas; avoid the places the locals/guidebooks tell you to, and look like you know exactly what you are doing.
And finally, try to blend in, which is easier said than done if you are a six-foot blonde girl in a remote Thai village.
Don’t let little annoyances get in the way of you having fun. If you are lonely try and hook up with other travellers. If you are unhappy in a place, move on. Travelling is such an amazing experience and one that you will hopefully remember for the rest of your life.