Whenever I research “traveling” people seem to always post about the good stuff – the “fall off your chair” exciting stuff, ya know – landmarks, the destinations, the food, the shopping, the “touristic” stuff, and the list goes to China! Oh goodie, more posts about stuff I can’t afford and will most likely never see in my lifetime!
I feel like we’re missing some really important information! Not everyone can travel as easily as we do! For me, it comes naturally! For others, they wonder, “how the crap did you go to so many places”? Some have fears of planes, trains, getting lost, not understanding anyone, and so on! So, if you are one of the antsy anxious travelers…this is a post for you! I act like I’m good at traveling, but in honestly I got lost in every single city…Spain was the worst by far! I will show you, how to be New…without making it known that you’re a tourist (unless that’s your thang).
Step #1: Do yo research ahead of time!
If you’re wondering where something is, and yet you have no data, no wifi, don’t speak the native language, and you’re on foot, you set yourself up to get lost. THIS WAS ALL YOUR FAULT!
When I travel, no matter how spontaneous I want the day to be, I always research things ahead of time! I gather all the info…and if I get around to it, then I already did half the job! The other half, is hoping you’re research is correct and you don’t look like a tourist! Which, let’s be honest, will still happen. Especially if you’re the only blonde hair, blue eyes, Norwegian albino, that’s in a much diverse country. I always stand out, no matter where…
I would suggest, not only subscribing/buying some guides books (which are insanely cheaper on Amazon.com), but also research unique things! Guide books are kinda set up for tourism, so be aware when you reach your destination, there will be 100 faces looking up from the same guide book! I normally research, little holes in the wall, and things that others often miss!
– if you’re going to Cinque Terre soon, check out one of my latest post about my discoveries: Discovering Cinque Terre
If you’re into physical maps, I would definitely recommend these small, 3D, foldable, popup maps: PopOut Map
Step #2: Get familiar with the transportation system!
You don’t have to memorize all your stops, major junctions, or anything! Just be wise, and pick a way that works for you! Most cities has small disposable maps, that are good for those who need a visual aid! I often would print a much small map, that covered the area I was visiting!
For instance, I remember numbers and colors…not so much street names or stops! When I was navigating Paris, this made it easier for me! Their map is color coded based on bus line, and super easy to navigate! Looks like this:
I would just remember that I was the purple line, and find my stop from there! The numbers are also the same as the colors! They represent what line you take! The Paris Opera House I remember was line #8. So when researching where to visit, normally a place has a “how to find us” tab on the website, and you can see if there are specific directions as to: Take line #8, to stop Balard.
When researching transportation methods, remember to look at pricing, and where to buy tickets or cards. Don’t be that idiot that is holding everyone up, because you can’t figure out how to get the gate doors open! Yes, that was me…in England! You have to scan your card before you can head to the track! So, make sure in every new city if you’re riding any public transportation, go to the information/ticket booth first, and get that all taken care of!
-Another TIP: sometimes tickets/passes are cheaper if bought online, make sure to follow up with that to save some bucks!
#3. Countries aren’t so different after all!
You can normally navigate through a country because of the street signs alone! All signs, actually! If you’re looking for a hospital, most cities still use the big “H” with a blue background, just like we do! Same with McDonalds, it’s always on signs lol! Most street signs also say something in English since it is a worldwide language. So if you don’t speak English, I would definitely familiarize myself with common lingo!
-This is a hospital sign in Malaysia!
Especially in airports, its hard to get lost when images are transferable between countries! What does the airplane flying up mean? Departures. What does the airplane landing mean? Arrivals. What does the car picture mean? Transportation, rental cars, pick up lanes, multiple things. Just be smart, look for signs, and if you still don’t know, find the information desk!
#4. Learn some of the lingo!
This will save you so much time when traveling! If you just learn hi, goodbye, do you speak english (whatever language you speak), do you know where this is, what time is it, common phrases! There are a couple apps/ programs I would recommend. Besides, apps and programs, I normally keep a small phrase sheet in my wallet or purse! I would recommend creating one yourself, because if you’re like me, you’ll remember it better if you physically write it!
Here are a couple of good apps I recommend!:
– Duolingo: You can set up practices everyday to learn more! This app plays games with you and make it fun!
– Rosetta Stone Languages: Good app, but not always free!
– Google Translate: Of course I would use this! This is fast, and free app…that most of the time is correct in its translation!
– Instant Immersion: This is just like Rosetta Stone, but wayyyyyyy cheaper! I got mine at Costco for Italian! It’s not perfect, but if you need to have fun while learning, this is a good program! Downloads onto your computer for games and activities, then uploads mp3 to your listening devices, and has phrase books included in many sizes!
Hopefully all you Non-travelers, will learn something from this! Traveling doesn’t have to be stressful nor hard, you just gotta work at it!