It seems like more and more people these days are becoming fans of world travel, whether that be for 2 weeks, 2 months or even 2 years. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is a good traveler. These people are usually easy to spot, too: they seem less interested and possibly even a little uncomfortable in their new surroundings. Contrast that with a superb traveler who seems to slot into his or her new environment effortlessly. If you’re wondering where you fit in, here are 10 signs you are a superb traveler:
1. You pack smart
One of your rules you stick to is not to over-pack, but rather to only take what you truly need. You also get to know the carry-on rules before boarding. When I backpacked through South-East Asia, I took only a carry-on and simply bought whatever else I needed along the way. This makes things so much easier, and allows you to leave the airport to start exploring.
2. You plan ahead (but not too much)
A little research is always good. It’s helpful (and essential) to get an idea of the place(s) you’re going to, climate, admission requirements, local laws and other do’s-and-don’ts, but once that’s all out the way, you like to allow things to happen naturally. This is also reflected in the way you use travel guides, treating them only as a reference point and not as a checklist.
3. You learn a few words of the local language
You take the time and effort to practice some basic pleasantries such as please, thank you, hello and goodbye. This often times leads to a stronger connection with locals and makes your trip all the more rewarding.
4. You ditch the technology (except when it helps)
There are certain apps which can enhance your travel experience, such as document storage, travel guides, language learning & translation, photography or even meetup apps. However, you are smart about how you use them and keep devices stowed away when not necessary. This allows you to be more present and enjoy the experiences in front of you.
5. You take part in the local traditions
Watching from the sidelines is never as fun as getting involved, and you take this same approach whenever you can on your travels. Often times, locals will welcome tourists into their routines or performances. And if you do end up embarrassing yourself, at least you’ll likely never see the same people again!
6. You respect other cultures
Traveling possesses a unique gift in that it expands your worldview and exposes you to things you would otherwise never have imagined, whether that be new foods, rituals or behaviors. Whether you agree with them or not, you choose to respect them as a way of life for the community which you are visiting.
7. You can see the bright side
More often than not, there is bound to be some sort of hiccup along the way. Perhaps you get scammed by a tuk-tuk driver, get caught in a storm or miss your connecting flight. When these things happen, you take them in your stride and prefer to see the silver lining.
8. You get out of your comfort zone
One of the greatest aspects of traveling (especially when in a foreign country) is the fact that there are no comfort zones. You are stripped of your usual luxuries and conveniences and learn who you really are as a person. As a superb traveler, you embrace this as part of the adventure.
9. You welcome the unexpected
On any adventure, there are bound to be some unexpected events along the way. Maybe you got lost or receive an invite from a local. A good traveler learns to go with the flow and makes the most of the situation. While on a tour in Cambodia, the tour guide learned I enjoyed sports and invited me to a soccer game with his friends that night. It was one of the highlights of my trip.
10. You make new friends
If you are a solo traveler, this obviously becomes even more important, but it applies to anyone exploring a foreign country. Travel friendships (and relationships) are a bond like no other, strengthened by the fact that there is a known deadline. On my own solo adventures, I realized that it was a choice between putting myself out there and meeting new people, or having a boring, lonely holiday.
The superb traveler possesses these qualities without thinking about them. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t adopt some of them yourself. You (and your travel mates) will be grateful you did.