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As travellers begin itching to get out and see the world again and thinking of all of the things they want to do, I can’t help but think about all of the things that I never want to do again.
Not just places I don’t feel the need to visit, but things I may have done before the world came to a standstill that I won’t ever do again once I head off on my next adventure.
Here’s a list of all of the things I will never do again when the world starts travelling again:
Repeat after me: You do NOT need to pack that extra shirt, or that extra pair of pants or those extra shoes juuuuuust in case.
When it comes to packing, it can feel like you’re trying to plan for the worst-case scenario and you end up packing just about everything, but the kitchen sink to avoid any unforeseeable situation. In reality, that has more to do with control than with the items, themselves.
One of the most common “regrets” when it comes to travel is people wishing they hadn’t overpacked, but if I’ve learned one thing travel during the pandemic, it’s that you just need to let go and lean into the lifestyle of one or two of everything (if that!).
If you’re like me you’ve definitely worn the same lazy outfit more days this year than you’re willing to admit and not-knowingly proven to yourself that you really can get by with a limited selection of clothing.
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Go Somewhere Because That’s Where Everyone Goes (or Doesn’t)
Although travel should be a very personal thing, it can be easy to follow the crowd, literally and figuratively. Especially in a world that feels like everything is documented on social media for the world to see.
There’s a sort of unspoken pressure to visit a specific attraction or take a specific picture, but just like anything in life, this is your trip, your excursion.
The same goes for plain-old, classic travel advice. While it may seem obvious that the more people you ask for an opinion, the more opinions you get, this was a common-sense realization that took me a while to get to.
It can be confusing to get lots of different perspectives, particularly when some people insist that you definitely give something a try and others insist that you definitely should avoid it. At the end of the day, your gut is the best advice you’ll get when it comes to travel.
Travel Through My Screen
Going off the idea of social media, it can be tempting to get somewhere, take it all in and grab your phone and snap a pic or two.
But don’t let that turn into 100 or 1,000 too quickly. It’s easy to want to capture the feeling of the sights and sounds of wherever you are.
You may plan to show your family and friends when you get home, you may post to your page to share your adventure in real-time or you may just want to look back one day and reminisce.
If it is the last one, which I hope you do look back on photos from your trip with fond memories, I just hope that you don’t look back and think about the fact that you saw a beautiful beach, a magnificent building or a stunning sunset on your phone, as opposed to looking at what’s literally right in front of you.
And let’s be honest, does a photo ever really do it justice?
Underestimate Travel Insurance
Personally, one of the hardest parts of the pandemic has definitely been the sense of not knowing what’s coming next or if anything will happen at all. And that’s why insurance is more important than ever, not just in terms of COVID-19, but for anything and everything that may come your way.
The costs of travel can easily creep up, between the ticket, the hotel, the baggage fees, and so much more, making the idea of cutting corners enticing, I get it. But don’t think that just because something didn’t happen the last time you travelled that an accident, a delay or any other issue that could be damaging to your trip, and your wallet in the long-run, is out of the question.
In fact, if there’s one place where your budget should highlight, it’s your insurance.
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Question Anything… But I Will Ask Questions
Yes, there IS a difference.
When we question how and why things happen in another part of the world, what we’re really saying is, “The way I do things where I’m from is normal, meaning the way other people do it simply isn’t.”
When we ask questions about how and why things happen in another part of the world, what we’re saying is, “Wow, I do things a certain way where I’m from. How interesting to see these things from a different perspective.”
Normalcy is relative, and even this past year, I’ve all had to get used to what the idea of normal means in our own lives. So it’s now more important than ever to see the world with open eyes and an open heart.
As always, there are ways to ask questions politely, and that may change depending on the country you’re visiting. Remember to always respect other cultures, and so long as you have the best intentions to learn, not criticize, about one that is different from yours, your best bet is to always be curious. And if someone can’t give you an answer, try to find a resource that can.
Do Anything Without Questioning Its Impact
When the world came to a halt in March 2020, I saw the ways in which human activity had been impacting people, animals and the environment worldwide. Once the world begins to pick up speed, I just hope we don’t forget all of the amazing things that came out of us taking a step back (See What Travel Can Teach Us About Ordinary Life).
This isn’t to say that the world must never move again, but when it does, I want to keep in mind who and what is being impacted, both positively and negatively.
More and more, travellers are looking for sustainable and ethical options when it comes to the way we move and what we see when we get there. There are many fantastic products, like suitcases and clothing items, that have come onto the market that are made free-trade and with a limited carbon footprint.
Many destinations have also looked into highlighting more than just their “star” cities, to limit the effects of over-tourism in one concentrated area.
When making decisions, I want to do my research and know who, where and what will be affected by the way that I see the world.
Blindly Buy Souvenirs
While sitting at home wishing I was travelling, I went through some of the souvenirs I’ve collected throughout the years. Something, I must admit, I haven’t done in a long time.
Did you know that the word “souvenir” literally means “to remember” in French? Souvenirs are a fun way to bring a piece of your trips home with you and to have a physical, tangible item that’ll help you to remember the time you spent on vacation.
For many people, myself included, it can be easy to just buy a necklace or a magnet or a shirt to show off to your friends back home and you can say, “Oh this? Well, I got it when I went on my trip last year.”
And I know it can be tempting to tap that credit card or to throw around another currency and pretend the money isn’t real. But let me tell you, when you get home and get that credit card bill, you’ll realize that the money is very real.
I want to apply the same rules of spending when I travel as I do at home: Will this add value, physically or sentimentally, to my life? Will I regret buying this when I get home or even tomorrow? Do I really want to buy this item or do I really just want to buy something?
At the end of the day, like a souvenir says, you want to remember your time spent away, so if this trinket will help you to do that in the best way possible, by all means, I’ll buy it. If not, I’ll walk away.
Stress Over the Stress
Is travel stressful? Sure. Are there things beyond our control? Of course. Is it worth getting stressed out over? Of course not. That’s probably the worst thing you could do.
When the pandemic caused us to have limited resources at our disposal, I found a shift in my thinking from “There’s got to be a better way” to simply “There’s got to be any way.” I’ve gotten creative and, let’s just say, crafty.
The next time I feel like I’m stuck in a traveller’s nightmare, I’ll just remind myself that there’s never no solution. As my mother always says, so long as you have a passport and some money, the rest is fixable.
And if for whatever reason, I find myself in a situation where I don’t have one or either of those travel essentials, there’s always something or someone around that’ll help me get out of a sticky situation.
Take Travel For Granted
It sounds cheesy, I know, but it’s so true.
For those of us with the travel bug, absence really has made the heart grow fonder, and the further we’ve gotten from our last vacation, the farther away we want to go when we can explore once again.
There’s no question that travel is a luxury that many people around the world, and even in my own backyard, are not fortunate enough to take, and while I know that other people are waiting to pay their next bill or waiting for another source of income to come their way, I’m incredibly privileged that travel is what is keeping me waiting.
The next time I get annoyed by a delay, feel squished on a plane or get frustrated over lost luggage, I’ll remember the time when the world stood still and those were the least of my worries.
I always knew that travel was a gift, but it took having it stripped away to truly know what that means.
Read More: 20 Ways to Relive the Best Trip of Your Life