So the world is going to end in 12 months. With things like promo fares and dirt-cheap prices of accommodations, we say there's no better time to travel than today. We're running out of time. So. Go.
Allow us to prod you into seeing the world some more. Here are some tips that will surely make your trips more memorable and extra exciting. These are travel tricks that could help you not look like a clueless idiot when on the road, and a bit about a guiding light toward success in using plastic.
1) Talk to people.
It’s always rewarding to have a nice, peaceful time unwinding, sure, but it would be dumb not to interact with people around you. Though it cannot be denied that guidebooks and airport flyers could answer many of your travel needs, nothing compares to being able to learn from the locals. The possibility of meeting assholes along the way remains high, but talking to someone who has issues is still so much more entertaining than shutting up and learning nothing new.
Going on a diet while traveling is a stupid idea. Food is an essential part of an adventure, so pig out and be adventurous. Also, you didn’t go to the other side of the world to have a burger at McDonald’s or KFC, so skip the fast food joints. It is the hole-in-the-wall cafes and unpretentious restaurants that are sure to make your trip much more special. In addition, let the restaurant people pick food for you, tell them to give you the best they've got, ask if you can get a free meal, and if they say yes, devour it and give them a big tip. You'll be surprised at the friendships you'll make if you allow food to be a part of travel.
3) Show some respect. (ie. Holy places are holy)
Or: don't be an asshole. Always remember that you’re a visitor, that you're on their territory and you have no right to say or do anything that will piss them off, because in most cases, they can and will make you wish you didn’t board that plane. This applies most especially to those with cameras who refuse to recognize the rules of respect when it comes to taking pictures. It's pretty simple: it's okay to go camwhoring in benches or in front of some historic monuments; it's not okay to check in on Foursquare when you're inside a cathedral, implying shit like “Here we go, time to spend some time with my pal Jesus!” It's not very difficult to see the difference between regular and sacred places, so just use your common sense and know where the line is drawn.
4) Don’t think twice, it’s all right.
Unless it’s something obviously dubious (eg. situations in airports where someone asks you to “hold” a “bottle” or “share” your “suitcase”), always be game to take on whatever challenge that will come your way. If someone asks you to try a strange-looking food item or beverage, do it. Yes, it may send you to the bathroom and producing alienesque juices, but the point is, you tried. And you won't go home feeling defeated. Sometimes it's better to just let things unfold, so leave your the uptight persona behind and just say yes.
5) Learn something.
Pre-trip, read about the place you're visiting. Research more on the country's history rather than restaurants, give more concern about the country's culture than worrying about getting complimentary water in your hotel. Try and learn a phrase or two in their language; saying "thank you" in Mandarin is not too difficult to learn. Locals always love it when they see tourists trying to crookedly speak their language, so look at this as a way of giving them a bit of entertainment. Saying stuff like "wie geht es Ihnen" could make you look like an idiot, but giving them this kind of entertainment is priceless.
NEXT: It's ok to strike up a conversation with strangers