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14 Tips to be(come) a Perfect Traveler

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Feeling stressed during your whole trip in Thailand because you don’t know what is going to happen next. Getting grumpy because in real life those temples and views are less stunning than on youtube. Especially when that catchy background tune is lacking and replaced by the sound of honking traffic. Becoming a perfect traveler is all about not striving for perfection and efficiency. It is about embracing the unknown and the adventure. That is what you travel for isn’t it? And of course there is no such thing as a perfect traveler. Nevertheless I think you can get very close with these 14 tips to be a perfect traveler. To make out the most of your trip, both good for you and our globe.

Tip 1 – Bring less

Time to pack your bags for your long awaited trip! Collect the stuff you want to bring for your trip. Then put away at least half of the items. Don’t bring more than 10 kg and you as a perfect traveler will be happy with your choice your whole trip. You can wear one outfit at the time. A light pack rewards you with so much flexibility. And it is so much easier to travel ‘under cover’. Locals might even think you are a local instead of a heavyweight, overly concerned, traveler.

Did you ever notice that locals – this is a nice example – hike mountains with slippers and a normal pair of trousers? And that you are walking the same track with special boots and a hydrating, mosquito resistant zip paints? They are fine. You will be too. And in the year 20-something there are shops almost everywhere. Bring less.  

Check out as well our blog: Find out what kind of traveler you are by your (back)pack size

Tip 2 – Let go when things go different than planned or expected

The main characteristic of traveling is that things always go different than planned or expected. Just like in real life. Let go and realize this is exactly what you came for. Enjoying the unknown is your goal, and not executing your planning. Try to see the fun in all those changes.

Tip 3 – Decide on your travel values

Create some depth in your travels. Don’t just go. What do you stand for? What are your (travel) values? What is important to you? Think about it. You will add some extra meaning to your travels. Align your travel behavior with what you think is right. The travel principles of National Geographic have always highly inspired me.  

Tip 4 – Don’t plan (too much) ahead

My list of arguments to underscore this tip is endless. Here I go. Planning ahead eats so much more of your time than arranging things on the spot. It is less pleasant as well; back home in the evening behind your PC. And less effective; most organisations / guides / cute guesthouses won’t be traceable online. Things work out different than planned anyway. I would say things are at least 3 times more expensive when you arrange them long before and far away.

Did I mention enough arguments to convince you to no to plan too much ahead?

Tip 5 – Travel in the real world

  • Ask local people for directions (instead of staring in your phone or tablet all the time)
  • Ask other travelers for recommendations ((instead of staring in your phone or tablet all the time)
  • Make a chat with locals sitting next to you in the bus / car / restaurant (instead of staring in your phone or tablet all the time)

You get my point. If you want to read further? Continue staring in your tablet, phone or laptop.

Tip 6 – The perfect traveler travels a little bit slower than you actually want to

For the sake of reflection. So there is room for spontaneous decisions, meetings and ideas. To not only see the famous highlights of a country but to also experience things that make travel really special.

Perfect traveler
With a strict planning it would have been impossible to run after this guy and his camel

Slow travel is by the way good for your budget too. Travel on a budget; 10 budget travel lessons we had to learn too 

Tip 7 – Be open to invitations – and don’t be naïve at the same time

This can be a tricky balance. Saying ‘yes’ to some invitations but not to all. You might go wrong sometimes. Try to use your gut feeling. And understand the magnetic power of money, especially in poor countries or areas.

We said “yes” twice in India. The first time we ended up sitting on the ground in the living room with an Indian family in Udaipur. The atmosphere was strange, and when we wanted to leave they tried to stop us and get some money. Even the grandmother dove in front of us. Luckily we are tall Dutch and we were able to break free.

The second time we said “yes” to an Indian couple at the train station in Jalandhar. It ended up with us staying with the friendliest Indian family in the Indian countryside close to the Pakistan border. I would even say this is my best travel experience ever. So I am happy I overcame my hesitation, chose to listen to my curiosity and excitement, and said “yes”.

If you like to know what India is like don’t miss this blog: 9 Reasons to hate India

Tip 8 – A perfect traveler keeps faith – you will be fine

Although you don’t know how a situation will evolve and solve. Most situations have a good ending. In every country most people are friendly and very willing to help you.  

And trust on the local infrastructure – there are beds, buses, restaurants, taxi’s, trains everywhere. That is all you need.

Tip 9 – Do things that are (a little bit) scary or strange to you

  • To feel proud.
  • To open new doors.
  • To overcome fears and grow as a person.
  • To learn that things are less scary than you think.
  • Because these things in the end make up for your best travel memories!
perfect traveler
I am afraid of heights. So can you imagine how cool it was for me to hike above 3000 meter in the Annapurna massif!

Tip 10 – A perfect traveler is open for learning

You can use your travels – how you coped with certain situations – to learn about yourself. You can copy your response in those situations one to one to daily life back home. Your coping and attitude during your travels are not different from how you behave at your job or in your private life. Only sometimes it is easier to see your reflexes when they are part of your travels and take place in a shorter period of time or in a more focused situation. Use those personal travel lessons for your benefit in all facets of your life.  

For example:

  • How did you deal with setback during your travels?
  • How well planned are you and how did you feel you when there was no plan backpacking out there?
  • How do you adapt to new situations during your trip?

Tip 11 – Make use of the stuff that would have been there anyway – also without the existence of tourism

So that the negative impact of tourism is as little as possible. And attractive places keep their charm. Traveling by making use of the local infrastructure will certainly improve your travel experience. Join the locals instead of the fellow tourists. Better for the world and so much more fun!  

Tip 12 – The perfect traveler gets local information

From fellow travelers and locals. Locals know best. Gathering information is a nice way for meeting people.

Tip 13 – Absorb culture

Forget about your Starbucks frappuccino with hazel syrup. Indulge local flavors!

Tip 14 – Challenge yourself to act the same once you are back at home

A perfect traveler is not only learning, enjoying, exploring and connecting when it is your yearly holiday. You don’t have to leave your home country to travel. When you chat with locals on your travels, why not back home? When you like to sit on a bench in China to observe people, why not back home? Do you love absorbing beautiful nature abroad and to be active? Why not do the same back home? Your life can be an adventure full of nice meetings, beauty and experiences. Use your travel skills 52 weeks a year, wherever you are on this beautiful globe.

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