Become a superhero
Step 7 – It’s time to… GO!
You are ready to go on your adventure.
It’s been great helping you out guiding you through this journey.
You have one last step, which covers some practical advice and tips for traveling on the road.
What I have learnt after years of traveling is that it is good to keep a plan in mind, but at the same time it is more beneficial to play by ear and let go of the illusion of control.
This applies especially when it comes to creating a travel itinerary. Sometimes it is very important to know where you are heading. Sometimes it is better to let the place and circumstances around you to choose for you.
I know what you are thinking.
“But, Superjab, before you said….”
You have to decide for yourself, and plan your journey as it suits you best.
Some people prefer to have a schedule for everything they do. I don’t particularly like that because it makes me feel I am turning traveling into a full time job. I prefer to follow my heart and instincts and enjoy what the place has to offer without forcing things to happen all the time.
Let’s find out the differences between the two methods so you can choose the one that suits you best.
To plan or not to plan, that is the question
I believe that each method has pros and cons. I have detailed them for you below:
Travel with an itinerary
The good news of having an itinerary and a set of schedules is that you are more likely to get things done quicker and it is a pleasure to experience a place and to learn as much as you can about it.
You have a great feeling of accomplishment and by pre-booking things before hand you can make the most of your time.
If you booked a set of tours before you even set foot on your destination, your schedules are tight to a specific date, so you have a little less freedom of changing things along the way.
You might miss other opportunities, such as:
Meeting other people and deciding to travel with them.
Ditching the place you arrived at to move to the next destination
Getting a better deal for the same tour from a local agency instead of a more expensive international travel agency
Travel without itinerary
You are free to choose how, where and when you want to live your days.
You can still join the tours and maybe get a better deal because you can shop around or join other groups of travelers.
Your schedules are flexible, so you can change in an instant.
You don’t like the place where you are staying at? You can go somewhere else.
Want to ditch all the other destinations because you love where you are?
You can stay longer and you haven’t wasted any money on pre-booked activities/transportation and so on.
You enjoy adapting to different situations and to simply wander around. It is good to not know where you are all the time and to discover things at your own pace.
Sometimes the most amazing discoveries happen when we don’t plan things, you just happen to be there, at the right time, and it is wonderful.
It requires you to be extremely flexible and to adapt to whatever situation you encounter. Sometimes you will miss opportunities too, because in order to go to famous touristic areas you need to book weeks or months in advance.
Often you will have to wait longer, or get worse deals, because availability might be scarce for a certain destination/tour/attraction and you need to get more creative to get around those obstacles.
Sometimes, for example, you go to China, thinking that you will get a train ticket to your next destination straight away, and instead you end up sleeping in some family’s house because all the tickets are booked.
It happened to me and even though it messed up my plans I ended up experiencing something I would have never predicted.
The best plan is the one you choose
Some of you have the need to always know what the next thing is. Then go ahead. Make a detailed itinerary and stick to it.
If you are more carefree and don’t mind missing a few things, you are more of a happy-go-lucky kind of person, ditch the plan, wake up, take the first left and keep walking, the adventure has already started and you’ll have a great time getting lost.
For first time travelers, I would recommend to have at least an itinerary of some sort, maybe not with dates set in stone, but with a rough idea of the things, places and activities you want to do and how you can organize them.
Having an itinerary that outlines those things can help you decide on the things you don’t want to miss and the things that you will decide later.
Some people jump from one attraction to another one in split seconds. Taking a snapshot of the attraction and rushing to the next.
That’s fine. They will have plenty of photos by the end of the trip, but did they really have enough time to savor the beauty of that sight?
Was their mind focused on that moment in time or were they wandering to the next thing on their list?
For me, traveling is taking time. It is listening and capturing a place, but not just with a photo, but with your heart, your soul and your spirit, and for those elements, time is never enough.
In summary, find the right balance, and don’t forget to have ZERO expectations. The less you expect to happen the happier you will be.
As I said previously, traveling is not as dangerous as it might seem. Most of the time it is really up to you to be safe and to avoid dangerous situations.
We are scared of unfamiliarity and unpredictability and travel offers both of them, free of charge.
You either embrace them or get paralyzed by them.
The choice is yours.
In order to reduce some of the risks you might encounter, let’s conclude this guide with some practical tips to help you while you travel.
Don’t look like a tourist
If you don’t want to become an easy target for pickpockets and scam artists, please don’t look like a tourist.
Hide your money and documents in a money belt and never use them in public.
Hide your money
Hide your money in your socks, shoes, underwear, or whatever you can think of – the more creative the better – some people put money inside their empty lip balm sticks. .
Put some spare cash in a regular wallet and use this money in public, if you lose the wallet, it’s not the end of the world.
Before you leave, contact your bank and make sure your card work overseas, also check what kind of withdrawing fees your bank has. It might be smarter to switch to another bank or have multiple accounts so all your money isn’t in the same account.
Keep a low profile and blend with the other people, dress cheaply, avoid carrying expensive gadgets. Act and behave like the locals do.
Pay cash, and have plenty of it, it is the cheapest way for you to travel. Learn the exchange rate for the local currency and avoid changing your money at the airport, they usually have higher rates.
Make digital copies
Make sure you have copies of your most important documents on paper and digital copies. You can use cloud services to store the documents online so you can access them from anywhere in the world in case of emergency.
Draw a map
If you are going to a specific place, check the route at your hotel and draw a simplified version of the route on a piece of paper or take a photo of it with your phone. Use the small map you drew to take you to the place, so you won’t need to display your giant city map like a tourist as if it was a Michelangelo’s painting.
Print your entire itinerary and flight tickets/confirmations. Store these with your passports. You can’t always rely on Internet access or electricity to pull this info off your phone or laptop.
Keep in touch
Check in with friends and family from time to time, especially when traveling alone. It’s a good idea for someone to always know where your next movements are, just in case.
Track what you spend
Track what you spend, using a spreadsheet, a journal or an app on your phone to make sure you don’t spend more than you should.
Go to supermarkets
Buy food from big supermarkets and avoid going to restaurants and bars all the time.
Eat like a local
Eat where the locals eat and order the same food. This will help you see how much you should pay so you won’t get ripped off.
Carry a water bottle with filter to save money on water bottles. Drink plenty of water.
Restaurants for lunch
If you go to a restaurant, go there during lunch time, the prices usually are lower than dinner time.
Book at least a place to stay for the first few nights in advance. You don’t want to walk around with your backpack to find a place to sleep. You can always change later if you don’t like the place.
Use the sink
Wash your clothes in the shower or use the sink, you can “borrow” the soap from the place you are staying at.
Ditch the taxis and take local transportations. You won’t have to haggle for fares and can reach your destination cheaper.
Taxis most important rule
If you use taxis, make sure you agree on the fare BEFORE you get in. Once you are in, you can’t change the price, but if you’ve negotiated properly, neither can the taxi driver.
Less is more
You won’t have enough time and money to see EVERYTHING, so pick some places and be OK with it.
There are many tips and advice scattered around the internet, but in my opinion, they all come down to a simple principle.
Be respectful, be aware, be prepared and use common sense.
One last thing…
…if people look at you a little weird, check yourself out, you might want to lose the white socks + beige sandals combo and khaki travel hat, honestly… You look weird. :)
Exercise 09: Prepare for your adventure
Make an itinerary that suits your style
Research and learn about the places you are going to visit before your trip
Double check you got everything prepared for your adventure
Objective: The purpose of this exercise is to finalize what you have learnt and to get ready to begin your adventure.
The next chapter is about reviewing all the information covered in this guide and what you have learnt.