7 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Traveling

1.  Don’t Try to Do Everything

Traveling for me has always been an outlet to get away from reality by enjoying the beautiful mysteries, cultures, and natural wonders of the world.  So when I first started traveling, I was EXCITED and wanted to experience it all!  Sometimes I would have at least three things planned to do per day.  I found myself exhausted!  Exhausted while on vacation?  Not cute!  Wish I would’ve known not to plan so much in hopes to have the best experience.  For now on if I have limited time, I am taking it one day at a time; planning things that I absolutely want to do, and enjoying those moments while doing it.  Or just stay longer…

2.  Stay Longer

Many of my vacations have been short-lived to make sure I have enough vacation time left for another vacation that year.  To be honest, it is mostly for bragging rights.  To knock a destination or country off my bucket list.  Taking shorter vacations, you are very limited doing the activities you want.  Also, you don’t get the full experience of the place, such as culture, music, or local friendliness.  You don’t get to live in the moment, and “take it all in” because you are rushing to get things done in such little time.  Therefore, I decided to plan longer stays, meaning fewer vacations a year.  Rushing to knock countries off your list you get a limited experience.  Don’t rush!

3.  Don’t Plan Everything Ahead

The most important things one should always plan ahead is the flight and hotel.  But when it comes to activities, you may not want to plan everything ahead.  Too much planning can stifle your entire stay!  At times I would meet a few locals or tourists, and they ask me, “hey did you get a chance to do such and such?”  Nope.  Can’t do it since I already have something else planned, AND, paid for in full.  Therefore, I’ve learned to not plan everything ahead.  Only plan things you absolutely want to do.  It may be hard to do since you can find really good online deals.  But, most hotels have pamphlets where you can book activities directly through them at a good price.  They are locals themselves and can direct you to some really cool things to do there you can book that same day.  Chill out, don’t plan everything ahead!

4.  Get To Know Maps

Going to your dream destination, then getting loss sucks.  I hear those type of stories all the time.  I’m actually pretty good finding my way around town.  But the times I did get lost, I could’ve been doing something else more pleasant to enjoy my vacation!  You can ask locals, but what if there aren’t any around?  Also, if there is a language barrier, they may not understand you and send you to the wrong place.  For instance, when in Dubai we decided to visit the Dubai Mall. The mall is 5.9 million square feet, and we decided to wing it.  There were signs, there were maps, but we got lost a few times.  We ask locals either in passing or working in a particular store, but often directed the wrong direction several times because of the language barrier.  They nodded like they knew what we were saying, but not quite.  Our last day night in Dubai, we told the Taxi driver we wanted to go to the Miracle Garden.  He took us to the Glow Garden.  If only we had a map for each of these activities, things probably would have gone a lot smoother.  We could’ve shown the taxi driver where we wanted to go.  Therefore, I will always look at the map of every city that I visit.  Especially in a foreign country where English is not their first language.

5.  Catching an Early Flight is Not Always Best

In no way am I an early riser, but airlines typically price early flights (5-6 am or earlier) the cheapest.  Especially Southwest Airlines.  So I would sacrifice my sleep to catch the cheaper flight, usually landing before 12 noon, and basically have an extra day of vacation.  I’d catch up on sleep while on the plane.  Sounds great right?  Nope.  Often I found myself not able to go to bed early, staring at my bedroom wall for several hours.  Duh, because it is not my regular sleeping pattern!  Also, there were times I would not be able to fall asleep on the plane, therefore when I check-in at the hotel I sleep for hours!  So much for that extra day of vacation.  Therefore, I would find myself exhausted on vacation.  Early flights are enticing due to the low price, but not the best option for me if I wanted to enjoy my vacation.  Now in days, I look for the best flight that would work out best for my itinerary other than the cheapest.

6.  Think Twice Before Going Solo

Sometimes going solo is necessary if you don’t have a travel buddy or if your friends and family aren’t able to go.  For years if I didn’t have anyone to go with, I would not go.  But that equates to sitting at home with travel dreams stuck in your head.  Therefore, I began to take solo trips.  I say “think twice going solo” not because of safety reasons, or money reasons, but shared memories.  The experience visiting a new destination is a memory implanted for the rest of your life.  It makes it sweeter to experience the moments with your loved ones.  Sure you can take photos, but it is nothing like having someone there with you that you know and love.  You’d have someone there with you to witness something so special and life-changing.  You can reminisce about the experience for the rest of your lives!.  So I go solo if I have to, but check with my friends and relatives first.

7.  Put Down Your Camera, Put Down Your Phone

Being a photographer, you don’t want to miss those perfect shots.  I would take my DSLR everywhere to make sure I don’t miss a moment.  But when home, I’d go through TONS of photos, most I never use or post anyway.  Now when I travel, I make sure I leave my camera at the hotel during certain outings, like going to the mall, dinner, etc.  It is nice to interact and have fun without trying to capture those moments.  Your memory is still more than enough.  I found the less you use your camera, the more vivid the memory.  Because you are enjoying the moment!  The same thing goes for a camera phone.  With social media on the rise, we now snap, post, tweet, and watch the “likes” come in.  We are always glued to our phones, chatting it up, or editing a photo.  Now, I want to post anything on vacation, I’ll wait to post at night before bed, or back when I am home.

There is much more traveling to get out my system.  Therefore, there will be many more things that I will learn along the way that I will share.  The one thing that you can take from each of these is enjoying the moment.  In which also boils down to time!  We live in a society that everything is rushed.  One can lose track of what really matters which is the experience: taking each day at a time on vacation, not rushing, balancing out your time, to have a fulfilling experience.  As I mentioned above, when staying longer you can get to know locals who may have a different way of thinking, who can teach YOU something about life.  Enjoy the moment travelers!  Safe travels!

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50 thoughts on “7 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Traveling

  1. This is awesome advice! I learned the hard way when we took the kids on a cruise to the Bahamas. There were so many things we wanted to see and do but didn’t because time was limited to two days.

    I appreciate your advice and can’t wait to put these tips into practice.


  2. You really offer up some great tips. I think a lot of people opt for shorter trips because of their vacation day banks. I wish more employers valued time off for their staffs in the U.S. so more people would have the opportunity to travel or travel longer.


  3. Ughhhh I find #7 so hard!!! I’m an avid landscape photographer and sometimes I get so consumed in it all that I feel as if I’m watching the world through my lens rather than really enjoying the moment as is… Great reminders tho!


  4. Great traveling tips we should all keep in mind. I definitely learn, especially when I internationally travel to stay longer that whole 3-4 day traveling experience is a tease. This year I did my 1st month out the country and it was life changing I plan to do more!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Number 2 and number 7 are SO true for me. I’ve been to so many places that I wish I had another day or two in. I’ve also learned that while pictures are great, it’s so much more important to be present in the moment and really take everything in.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great Tips!!! I love the first tip the best, dont try to do everything. So many times we are trying to see EVERYTHING right away but we have to give ourselves times to regroup after traveling!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your ‘stay longer’ point feels very much like ‘travel slow’. Where you might not have a lot of time to enjoy in a given place but are committed to taking it all in with ease, instead of rushing from one point to another, ticking off stuff from lists.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. that 7. is so true.. in hate taking cam along with me now.. it spoils the fun.. now I just like to save the whole scene .. incidences.. by my heart.. with cam the tendency is always to capture the best click possible… so…


  9. I definitely agree on the 7th: Put Down Your Camera, Put Down Your Phone. With this age of social media, sometimes we still get lost with technology. Never enjoying the present or the company we have. A vacation is always best enjoyed by just being there and savoring the moment.. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think that the problem that some travellers have it that they want to see everything. People will plan 3 month trips to see the whole of Europe never to return to Europe again, missing so much! We lived in England for 2 years and it was an amazing experience. We still didn’t see everything though!


  11. I agree with all of these, however since I work full-time, it’s harder to plan longer vacation stints. I try to maximize time off with weekends and holidays. I wish I could take more time off for sure, but sometimes it’s just a weekend trip for me!


  12. Yes, yes and yes! These are valuable travel lessons that every traveller should read. I particularly like number 1, as many tourists try to take in too many places and too many tourist attractions on their travels. I like to slow down a bit and spend a few days at each destination and also plan for rest days.


  13. Love this post and each thing that you have mentioned here is so true.. Love the bit which says we do not need to plan everything beforehand. Have experienced this before and it makes so much sense to just go with the flow of your trip. Thanks for sharing.


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