Tag: traveling

How to Plan Your Trip to a Place You know Nothing About

Yvone AK Johnson: How to Plan Your Trip to a Place You know Nothing About

How to Plan Your Trip to a Place You know Nothing About

One of the best things about traveling is experiencing a place and a culture that you know nothing about. There is no better way to learn about this planet and the people we share it with than to leave behind all your preconceived notions and go exploring. Putting myself in an entirely new situation and embracing my surroundings has lead to some of the most meaningful experiences of my life. Of course, the trick is knowing how to plan the right kind of trip for you. When you’re going somewhere you’ve never been, it can be hard to know where to start. How do you plan a trip to somewhere you know nothing about?

Whether you’re the kind of traveler who likes to make detailed itineraries or wait and see what takes your fancy when you land, you’ll have to start somewhere! Here’s a crash course in planning your trip when you’re starting from a blank slate.

 

Wiki It

Seriously, look up your destination on Wikipedia. It might sound silly, but when you’re really going in blind this can be a great way to get an overview of the country and its history. Pay attention for any tidbits of information that pique your interest. If something catches your attention, do a little more research and you may just have found an awesome destination or activity that isn’t part of the standard guide-book fare!

Get Guide Books

If you’re pinching every penny for your upcoming trip, you can even visit you local Barnes and Noble and sit in the coffee shop with a stack of books, or your local bookstore with the comfy armchairs. You’ll probably want to take at least one or two of your favorites home with you, though, so that you can mark them up and dogear the best pages. Reading guide books is a fantastic way to get a sense of the sights you won’t want to miss, and many offer great tips for safety and cultural sensitivity.

Ask Around

Once you have an idea of what kind of questions to ask, start asking around among your friends and family to see if anyone else has already been to your destination. Where better to get advice than from those you trust? Make sure you ask not only about their favorite days, but also about their least favorite parts of the trip, things they wish they had know before they left, and what they would have done if they had more time. Keep in mind what you know of the person, however. If they like to travel in style and luxury and you like to rub shoulders with the locals, you may not want to take their word as gospel.

Find Bloggers

And no, it’s not just because I run a travel blog! Blogs that center around your destination can often fill in the gaps and suggest neat things that aren’t common knowledge. The best part is, you can reach out and ask them your questions directly! Get googling.

Crowdsource Your Plans

If you are comfortable with putting your trip in the hands of others, don’t underestimate couchsurfing as a resource. You’ll get a real taste of local flavor staying with locals, and many hosts will be happy to take you around their city. There are even some people who sign up simply as guides without offering a bed. It’s hard to know exactly what you’ll get, but you’re guaranteed to have experiences that you couldn’t find in the guide book!

Safety Tips for Solo Travelers

 

Yvonne AK Johnson Safety Tips for Solo Travelers

Yvonne AK Johnson Safety Tips for Solo Travelers

Traveling and immersing yourself in new cultures can be one of the most rewarding experiences in your life, and doing it alone can be a very different and powerful experience. You will meet interesting new people, see incredible sights, and get to know yourself better. If you’ve travelled enough, chances are you have a horror story or two about the time you got lost and couldn’t find your hotel, showed up for your flight on the wrong day, or were even pick pocketed. It’s almost a rite of passage – but certainly one you should do your best to avoid!

No one should let fear and anxiety keep them from having the trip of a lifetime. If you’re careful, away, and rely on your common sense, you’ll have a fantastic time and come back overflowing with exciting stories to tell. Just take a few basic precautions, and go book that trip you’ve been dreaming of!

  1. Copy, Copy, Copy

Don’t leave without multiple photocopies of all your important documents — your passport, driver’s license, visa, traveler’s insurance, and health insurance. If you get into any trouble, you’ll be glad you protected the most important things! Keep one copy easily accessible at all times, one in your hotel room, and one permanently online on a service like google docs or dropbox, or emailed to a friend or family member. As for the originals, they should always be in the safest place available to you. If your hotel does not have a locked safe, keep your most important documents on your person.

  1. Keep a Secret Money Stash

Duh, right? But the important point here is to hide it in several different places. Keep only a few small bills in your wallet, enough for one day’s worth of shopping or mail. That way you’ll never accidentally flash a wad of big bills when you’re hurrying to get change for the bus. Not only would that be a tempting target for crooks, it could also show vendors that it would be worth their time to overcharge you. Just in case your main bag is snatched or left behind, carry an emergency stash of money in a hidden place, like a shoe, concealed pocket, or undergarment. Make sure you always have at least enough money hidden on you to get back to your hotel if you were to need it.

  1. Hug Your Bags Close

Hopefully, of course, you’ll never have any need of that emergency stash! To protect yourself from thieves, never let your bag out of your arms in public. If your bag has a shoulder strap, put it over your head so that it is harder for for someone to snatch and run off. If you’re worried, consider investing in a slash-proof bag with reinforced straps. Backpacks are practical, it’s true, but it’s easy for a pickpocket to get behind you in line and ease those zippers open without you feeling a thing. On public transportation, don’t just set your bag on the seat beside you, loop an arm through the strap and hold it in your lap if possible. Finally, if you’re distracted pulling things out or talking to a cashier, keep your bag between your legs or between you body and the counter to make it harder to grab and run.

  1. Call Mom

No matter who it is, make sure you leave a full copy of your itinerary with someone back home, and schedule a regular check in time with them. Someone should always have a general idea of where you are, and no when you’ve arrived there safely. If phone calls for skype don’t make sense, Whatsapp can be counted on almost anywhere in the world.

  1. Keep your Maps a Secret

If you lose your way, no problem — you brought maps! But be careful to never take out a map or check your smart phone in the streets. It just screams “I’m a tourist, I’m vulnerable and I’m not paying attention.” Instead, duck inside a cafe for a few moments while you get your bearings and head back out with confidence.

  1. Register

Finally, it’s a good idea to register with the U.S. Department of State. If anything important happens back home or in the country you’re visiting, they’ll give you the information you need ASAP. They even have a handy Smart Traveler app.

 

You can check out some more tips here. Most of all, remember to have fun! Be careful, but also know that sometimes the unexpected or even scary moments will become your best stories and your favorite memories. Bon voyage!