*sponsored post, Global Journeys
Travel means different things to different people, and for some, it’s all about getting off the beaten trail. It’s about being challenged, it’s about learning, discovering, and expanding horizons. It’s about personal growth and stepping out of that cosy comfort zone.
Taking a guided tour means you have the support to explore the unfamiliar confidently. To do things and go places you may not feel comfortable doing independently. However, while a guided tour facilitates getting off the beaten trail with ease, it can still be daunting and unnerving. Here are some things you can do to best prepare for your exploration beyond the well-trodden path.
Research the Culture
Setting off on a vacation into the unknown is exciting, but it is important to know a little about the culture to avoid making any faux pas and moments of awkwardness. Understanding the cultural etiquette of your destination is a sign of respect and will avoid causing offense. This may be anything from asking permission before taking photos to learning chopstick etiquette, like never spiking your chopsticks upright in your rice. Your tour leader will guide you on what is appropriate along the way, but doing some research beforehand will have you best prepared and at ease on tour.
Researching the culture and climate of your destination will help determine what makes it into your luggage. It is important to pack clothing that is culturally sensitive and appropriate for the places you are visiting and reading your tour itinerary in detail will help inform what you pack. You may need longer and loose fitting clothes to visit places of worship and throwing in a light scarf for the ladies is always handy to cover up if necessary. You may need layers and weatherproof gear to suit the climate, and comfortable shoes are a must. There may also be limited access to laundry facilities, so a travel clothesline often comes in handy. Being prepared to wash along the way also means you can pack lighter which will make your trip easier overall. If you have a long haul flight pack your carry-on luggage just as thoughtfully.
Tours that take you off the beaten trail often go hand in hand with remote destinations where access to shops and services may be limited. It is important to be equipped with everything that you need before leaving the well-trodden path into less tourist dense areas. Be sure to pack enough of any required medication (just check it is permitted in the country you are traveling to and accompany with a letter from your doctor) and toiletries. It is also important to consider money matters for your tour, so you don’t get stuck without funds along the way. Check with your bank the best way to access your money overseas and be mindful to carry cash where ATMs may be limited or non-existent. If you are walking a lot or hiking, wear in your shoes or hiking boots before you leave home.
Learn Some Language
Learning some turns of phrase is a great way to break down barriers and show respect to the people welcoming you into their country, and often their homes. Using the local language, or at least trying to, will not only open more opportunities for unique experiences, but can also circumvent awkwardness and misunderstandings. There are some great language translation apps around, or if you prefer, you can pick yourself up a phrase book before heading off on your vacation. Greetings and expressing gratitude are a great place to start.
Keep an Open Mind
The best way to truly experience a place and a culture is to immerse yourself in it. Sometimes things will catch you off guard and there may be opportunities that present themselves that you may not have previously considered. Keep an open mind and try new things. Your tour leader and local guides have all the insights to keep you safe, so you can boldly throw yourself into your adventure and get the most out of your holiday. Try the local specialties. Chat to the locals. Surround yourself with different languages. Say yes to new experiences and enjoy everything your destination has to offer. Adventure awaits off the beaten trail.