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(Photo: Quilotoa Loop, Ecuador. November 2014)
I'm not saying I know everything there is to know about travelling, because I don't, but I have done quite a bit of it and I've picked up a lot of tips and such from my mum, who spent ten or so years travelling. So, here is the top ten (in my opinion) most important things to remember when travelling!
1. Never, ever, disrespect someone else's culture. Ever.
News flash: Other cultures are different! They eat different foods! They have different traditions! And it is never okay too say eww at their food or to scrunch up your nose, or to laugh and ridicule something. Fair enough you don't want to try every single cultural dish, because some are a little unusual compared to the food that we eat in Australia, or some other countries. You don't have to try something if it makes you uncomfortable, but please be polite about it. Politely decline, don't make a big show about it.
2. Don't leave your bag alone in an airport.
Airport security have to assume it's a bomb, and they'll take your bag away, and you'll be held up and miss your flight, which isn't great.
3. Respect fellow plane passengers.
If you're in first or business class, lucky you! If not, the space is quite limited. Quite and limited being the important words in that sentence. The main thing to remember is: Don't kick the seat in front of you! Being stuck on a long flight with a seat kicker behind you is the worst.
4. Try to learn the basics of the language before you leave.
"You must be fluent in all languages of all the countries you visit," said no one ever. However, knowing a few basics is a good idea. Hello, Please, Thanks, Goodbye, Sorry, Do you speak English, No thank you, and Excuse me are all useful phrases. The more you learn, the more the locals will be impressed. Making a small effort to learn their language goes a long way!
5. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the airport
Let me tell you a story: Once upon a time, myself and the people I was with thought one hour was enough time between arriving at the airport and boarding the plane. Plot twist! It wasn't. We got held up whilst checking our luggage, we were in incredibly late and we were the cause of the plane being delayed. I feel awful about it, but I was so thankful that they did delay the plane. That doesn't always happen, and they will just take off without passengers who didn't arrive on time.
6. Check the arrival boards at the airport.
Sometimes, gates do change and if you don't know about it, you'll end up at the wrong gate. Also, it isn't uncommon for flights to be late or delayed. However annoying, it isn't the biggest of issues so try not to stress.
7. Photos are crucial.
You might never go back to wherever it is you're visiting! And it doesn't matter how much fun you're having you will forget a few things. Take photos of everything and everyone (as long as they don't mind being photographed) is my policy.
8. Keep a travel journal.
Whether it's only a sentence a day, or a few pages a day - travel journals are incredibly entertaining to read a few years later.
9. Don't joke about bombs, drugs, or terrorists in airports!
This one might seem pretty obvious, but it's like the number one rule when walking around in an airport. Airport security are some of the most uptight people you'll ever meet, and you do not want to give them any reason to be suspicious about anything.
10. Patience. Stay calm, cool, & collected.
Don't worry or stress about the little things. Missing your bus or leaving your toothbrush at home isn't the end of the world. There will be another bus, and you can buy another toothbrush! Simple, eh?
Just remind yourself that it could be worse, and you'll be fine.
And whatever you do, have fun! (How cliche of me.)
Travelling is a fantastic opportunity that many people never get so enjoy it! As Hans Christian Anderson once said, To travel is to live. Wise guy.