As humans traveling around is the best way to always challenge our imaginations, give meaning to long-borne perceptions and make sense of the world. People travel for various reasons including out of sheer leisure and enjoyment, the pursuit of greener pastures, education, and many more. Whichever the reasons that cause someone to leave their own country or locality to the next, it is a necessity to plan for the best vacation at the end of the day. Even if only for a short period, the place you go will play host as your home and so getting the best of it is important.
One reality for travelers is that in one way or the other, they have a particular impression about the destination even before they go there. For example, through reading literature, watching movies, talking to buddies who have been there, you have a somewhat biased conception of the destination beforehand. Although some of these stories and information you already have may be accurate, the actual experience when there will be largely subjective….so you will have your own unique experience.
Overcoming Own Perceptions when travelling
Psychologists will tell you that when you intensely look for something, you cannot miss it. Therefore, if already you have a biased impression about the people, culture, cuisine, and general way of life, at least you will not miss something to hate. Assuming you are told Germans are damn racists or that Danes are very assuming and stone-cold…this information may be true or false. Assuming it were false, it means every action by a German, even if not inspired by racism will look like such for you.
Although not necessarily perspective, it is important to read more, listen widely and get balanced information about a destination. Sticking by imbalanced information simply turns you into a zombie of sorts which risks ruining your traveling experience. Although there could be some people or elements which match the information you have, being excessively generalist is inappropriate.
At the very best, treat the information you have as a basis for awareness as opposed to being a biblical truth. It is recommended that you avoid carrying other people’s experiences as if they were your own but then as a human being, it is inevitable to want to know things beforehand. So instead, I would mention that you need to be highly aware, very flexible, less irritable, and less sensitive to unnecessary details. I bet you if your focus is to enjoy a destination, you will even if your friends had made you believe something different.
First things to do when at a new destination
When you arrive at a new destination, one reality is that the place is not your usual home. This being as it is, you may not expect to have a copy-cut of whatever culture is at your home, if that was the case, there was no reason to travel then.
So as a first, you need to appreciate the place as an entirely new location with its own norms, culture, and beliefs. Although it may be extremely difficult to avoid the temptation of comparing and contrasting things with that of your home country, it should only be to the extent that you appreciate diversity instead of being judgemental.
As a newcomer, you are basically like a blank ready to be written on…so you open yourself to new information. It is of great benefit to be a quick learner. Having some attributes of an anthropologist will be of great importance because then it helps blend with the locals without necessarily trading away your own cultural ideals.
Another important thing at a new destination is to find a local friend who will introduce you to the subtle aspects of their culture, the dos and don’ts. You must be ready to stand being judged by some insensitive locals who may think you are acting weirdly…it is not your mistake but theirs for assuming that you are also a local like them. Don’t shy away from making mistakes, as long as the mistakes are not the obvious ones that make you look wanting.
Planning a tour of a new destination
When setting out to a new place, maybe you already have a list of specific places that you must visit. That is okay because every journey needs a prior visit. But you don’t want to ignore new information that comes when already out there. For example, a local tells you about some treasure destination which was not on your list currently….do you ignore it just like that? I think it is worth checking out provided it still falls within your budget.
So as a recommended rule of the thumb, do not always make a restrictive and rigid list of places to visit. It pays to play around with the chances that maybe something better may come up when already at the destination that you cannot help but accept. If you already have a specific list, don’t fear sacrificing one destination or two for a better option even if it wasn’t planned for. The only important thing is to always check on your travel budget.
Taking stock of and documenting your travel experience
It is a good practice to document your experiences in a new travel destination. Actually, if Christopher Columbus did not document something about the United States, maybe it would have been difficult to believe such a vast continent ever existed. Whenever you travel, you can have a small notebook where you note the experiences out there. It may seem pretty boring to write every small detail which may be so obvious but you need to do this so that someone may someday relate with your frame of experience by reading it.
Writing about your experience out there is also therapeutic in a way. Later in life when you sit down quietly, not in the mood to travel long anymore, you will likely refer to the notes and make sense of how fruitful your life has been. It is a good way to remind yourself of the extent to which you opened yourself to a full experience of life, interacting with new people and generally making people sense of the world. I tell you; it counts to have such records.
However, just like I mentioned the power of imbalanced information at the beginning, it is necessary to be so careful to avoid giving a one-sided story. Remember, your story will also be read by someone else who may be interested in going to the same places as you to get their own experiences. So, just be as balanced as possible, be dispassionate, and simply communicative. Maybe if there are some strong emotions associated with a destination, record it elsewhere to avoid adversely influencing what other people think.