Ruth, a.k.a. Elayne Kongaika, was raised in the orchard town of Orem, Utah. She married a Polynesian and has had amazing travel experiences.
The World Is Getting Smaller
The world seems to be getting smaller. It is becoming easier to get from one side of the world to the other or to go all the way around, and while travel still isn't cheap, spending money on traveling is a great investment. It creates memories that will last a lifetime and make you appreciate different cultures and traditions. It will also help you love your home even more.
How to Get the Most out of Your Adventures Abroad
Though you may be scared off by the media that tends to sensationalize stories from different areas of the world, fear not. You cannot spend your life looking over your shoulder, expecting disaster at every turn. Instead, you should use common sense and creditable information before setting out on a trip. It is worth it to purchase a travel guide and study it before you leave.
You will probably want to see the most well-known sites in a country, but you will be missing out if you only follow the popular tourist areas. You might want to "get lost" a little to see the country that the locals know best. When we lived in Hawaii for several years, most of the tourists hit hot spots like Waikiki and Honolulu. Those are fun and exciting places to go, but we encouraged visitors to go to the North Shore where they can see many local surfers, turtles on the beach, paragliders, and many other things they may miss if they only stay in Honolulu.
Eat Local Food
Food is an integral part of any culture. Look for eateries where residents hang out. Try a bit of street food and sample native cuisine. Look for vendors with long lines since that is a sign of great food. Buy purified water to drink and be prepared for some delightful taste sensations rather than sticking to the familiar McDonald's takeout.
Be street smart. If locals strike up a conversation and invite you to dine with them, be friendly, but do not let them take you for granted. They may befriend you because they see you are a tourist and probably carry a lot of cash. Keep your credit cards safe and only travelers' checks or a small amount of cash on hand. You can learn much about the traditions and culture by talking to locals. Don't set down purses or cameras where they can be easily picked up. I made that mistake once and before you know it, it was gone.
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Obey Warning Signs
If there is a sign that says "no trespassing", definitely take that to heart. Dogs are used to deter people from entering private land. If you are near the ocean and see blowholes, it is not wise to go close to them. You may be pushed to the other side when the water spouts or when large waves come in. Usually, signs are posted where big waves occur. Don't ignore them.
Unless you have an excellent memory, keep notes of your adventures so you won't forget parts of your travel and regret it later. Write down sights, sounds, smells, and feelings you had to jerk your memory. When you get home, you can write up a travel adventure story to share with your family and friends.
You may find that you overpacked. You will know the truth if you get home and find that you did not wear or use all the things you put in your suitcase. It is best to pack less. If you need something, you can usually find it in a local store wherever you travel. One thing that is very important is to have very comfortable shoes that you can wear most of the time as you walk from place to place. You definitely don't want blisters while you are traveling. To keep yourself entertained during downtime, take a book, music, or pick up magazines while you wait for planes, trains or just to unwind before sleeping.
Tell Your Family and Friends Where You Will Be
Before you leave on your travels, make sure your family or a close friend has a copy of your itinerary. Give them your contact number or email and check in with them from time to time. Having travel insurance is recommended and a copy can be given to your support person also. Not everywhere you go will have WiFi, so a postcard or two can also be sent. Have a sim card so it will not be very expensive when you call. Make sure your phone is set up properly so you do not get exorbitant roaming charges when you return home.
Look After Yourself
Traveling long distances can be strenuous for your body, especially if you are crossing several time zones. Make sure you get enough rest, water, and exercise. The first thing I do after traveling a long distance is take a nap until I feel rested even if it is not night. You may have to take a couple of naps to catch up on lost sleep, especially if you do not sleep well on the airplane. Keep hydrated and take a nice hot bath (if possible) to relax.
By now you should be all ready for your next great adventure. You have made your plans, know how to take care of yourself, and keep your belongings safe. You have a notebook to keep track of where you went and to write about your feelings. You are ready to be respectful of new customs and traditions and even maybe try some of the delicious local food. You will obey signs and be the perfect tourist seeing not only the touristy places but have a unique and enjoyable trip.
© 2018 Elayne