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I’ve lived and traveled all around the world. From epic nights of fun in Budapest, Hungary, to roaming the Asia side of Istanbul, a city on two continents, at 3 in the morning with my Turkish friends, to speaking in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I’ve had my fair share of adventures. As I write this, I’m more than 38,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean on way to Europe, a continent I travel to several times a year.
After years of ups and downs on the road, being in the middle of all sorts of adventures and unexpected encounters, I’ve picked up 5 key insights to keep in mind for you to have an epic and rewarding travel experience wherever you may go. Any one of these insights could revolutionize your travel experience. Here they are:
Key Insights #1: Be Spontaneous
Some of the best and most rewarding moments of my travels came from deviating from the plan and being spontaneous. This isn’t to say that plans are worthless – it’s good to have an outline of what you’d like to do. What I’m saying here is to never be afraid to deviate from the plan when the situation calls for it.
When I was in Barcelona in July of 2010, I had the trip of a lifetime. The final night before flying back home to Budapest, the plan was to take it easy in Catalunya Square. But when my friends and I got there, we weren’t having a lot of fun. We had hung out there the night before and while it’s an amazing square, we wanted to do something else.
Spur-of-the-moment, my friends and I decided to go for a walk on the streets of Barcelona. We noticed a hill in the distant background and decided to climb up it. While walking up this huge hill, we heard music near the very top and followed it. By pure serendipity, we ended up crashing the after-party of a Spanish wedding. Free drinks, lots of dancing and laughter, and the time of our lives. We would have never planned this, but because we deviated from the plan we ended up having one of the best nights of our lives.
Key Insights #2: Don’t Necessarily Take Someone Else’s Word for Something
Before I traveled to Morocco at the end of 2015, I got many opinions from friends and other people I knew who were fearful of me traveling there. “Don’t go there!” they said. “It’s way too dangerous. You’ll get yourself killed.”
I know they had my best interests at heart, but these were people who had never been to Morocco before and were making judgments based on preconceived notions. Their opinions were based on what they heard, but hadn’t experienced for themselves. Without exaggeration, Morocco had some of the friendliest locals I’ve ever met. Every step of the way, I was guided by locals. I made new friends from Morocco and I was treated with respect – even more so than I’m treated with respect in my own country. I left that country feeling enlightened, with one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had. You have to take people’s opinions with a grain of salt, especially those who haven’t been to the place you’re traveling to. Or they may have been there, but not within the last three to five years (cities are constantly changing and if someone hasn’t been there in a while, their opinion may be outdated).
If your experience matches what you’ve heard, that’s fine. But you at least owe it to yourself to experience it and form your own opinions rather than relying on the errant reports of others.
Key Insights #3: The World is a Friendly Place
Building off the previous point, the news does a great job of making the world seem like an incredibly scary and dangerous place. What I’ve found from my experience, and in the experience of countless other travelers I’ve spoken to, is that the more you travel, the more you realize the world is friendly and welcoming. In 99.99% of circumstances, you will be safe flying in an airplane and staying in a new city.
Please know that this does not disregard the possibility of danger. And always use your common sense and trust your better judgment. I’m simply saying to keep in mind that the media makes the world seem much more dangerous than it really is. There are millions of kind and loving events that happen all the time, but the media never reports on these because it doesn’t make them as much money. Don’t let the media fool you. Don’t let the one-in-a-million tragic event prevent you from experiencing the countless awesome events going on around the world.
Key Insights #4: Try Something New
When you travel, it’s easy to stay in a routine. And there’s nothing wrong with a routine, to an extent. You stay in a hotel, you go to the popular tourist destinations and restaurants, and have yourself a pretty good trip. But if you want to have an epic and truly memorable experience, you need to try something new. Here are some ideas:
What I’m suggesting here is a mindset shift. The mindset of consciously stepping into the unknown will lead you to the trip of a lifetime.
Key Insights #5: Redeem Credit Card Rewards
During Labor Day weekend of 2015, I went to Bogota, Colombia, South America for a 3-day weekend. Some people thought I was crazy to travel so far for a weekend, but I loved it. New York to Bogota was roughly the same flight time as New York to California. Better yet, I flew down there for free. Redeeming rewards from one of my travel credit cards, the full amount of the round-trip plane ticket was covered. I only had to pay $80 for additional airplane fuel charges and that was it.
Traveling for free is a detailed topic and something to be covered in a future post, but I wanted to make you aware of the possibility. Travel does not have to break your bank; travel can be affordable. If you are careful with your finances, manage your spend strategically, and plan for a big trip, you can absolutely make it happen even if you don’t have a lot of extra cash.
Stay tuned for more articles in the future! In the meantime, if you have any thoughts or questions, please email me via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeff Davis is a world-renowned author, professional speaker, blogger, YouTube creator, and philanthropist. For more information on Jeff, please visit jeffdspeaks.com or contact his Executive Assistant Meg via email@example.com
Jeff Davis, JeffDSpeaks.com | June 28th, 2016