The A-Z of Travel
Travelling: an adventure, an expedition, a journey, memories, experiences and mishaps. I’ve compiled an A-Z of all things travel related. Since taking my first trip in 2004, this list is what I consider to be some of the most important things about travel. What would you add?
All travellers need ambition. Have a desire to go further, to do and see more, meet new people, try new foods. Let your ambition guide your choice of destination. Don’t be put off when people query your choice of location. Embrace it all the more!
Whether you carry a backpack or wheel a suitcase, this is one of your most important travel possessions. Don’t forget to pack light though because even a wheelie suitcase can be a pain if it’s too big and heavy. I thoroughly enjoy the look on people’s faces as I stumble out of the arrival hall at Heathrow airport with my giant backpack behind me and two smaller packs on my front. I might be heavy-laden but I can still say ‘I’m hands free!’
Continents and Countries.
The reason for a traveller’s existence: to see everything and visit everywhere. Whether you’re on a country-counting mission or simply meandering your way across the continents, you’ll constantly be mapping routes, watching flight prices and planning trips. Don’t miss an opportunity to visit somewhere if it arises. The world is constantly changing and things may not be around forever.
One of my favourite travel topics! Because no matter how organised you are or how well planned something is, there’s always the possibility for disaster. Personally, I always look back on my disasters as trip-enhancers. Maybe this wasn’t the feeling at the time but for me, the bad is as much part of the adventure as the good. There was this one time when we were dumped out in the Sahara desert...
The experiences had whilst on the road are the reasons why we book another ticket, pack another bag and set off on yet another adventure. Whether it’s chasing the Northern Lights, flying over a waterfall or chatting with a local in a bar, these experiences feed our wanderlust.
Some of us prefer solo-travel, others prefer organised tours or heading off with a group of friends. Perhaps you’ve got a significant other who you collect air-miles with. Whoever your usual travel buddies are, don’t forget that family travel can be an adventure in itself. You may argue and regret the decision (especially if you don’t see each other too often and perhaps have forgotten some annoying habits) but do it whilst you can. You won’t regret it in the long run.
Only you can make your travel dreams come true. If you want to be a globetrotter, you need to make the decision and go. Don’t sit around waiting for someone else to set the date or book the flight. If your friends aren’t keen, go by yourself. If time is short, don’t go so far. If money is tight, stick to a budget. Anyone can be a globetrotter!
You may have heard of the phrase stay-cation. There’s as much adventure in your backyard as there is anywhere else. Remember, everyone is a local somewhere so get out an explore wherever you call home. I can guarantee there will be places to visit and things to see that you never knew about before.
A controversial topic within the world of travel. Some people will swear blind that it’s an absolute necessity and that you’re crazy for leaving home without it. Others will say it’s just another expense that will take away from your experience whilst on the road. My opinion is that you do need some sort of medical cover. Large hospital bills could seriously ruin a trip and cost you a fortune in the future.
Enjoy the journey. If you were supposed to be there in eight hours and it takes twenty, don’t worry. If you’ve missed a flight or had to make an unscheduled landing, don’t panic. You can get back on track. As long as you’re safe, plans can be changed, activities rearranged. The journey is as much part of the adventure as the destination. Of course, if you’re stuck on a train in Thailand in the height of summer with no air-conditioning and bugs crawling over you, the journey may be difficult to enjoy. However, I guarantee people will love hearing your story of the debacle!
This is where people tend to fall into two main categories. There will be those of us who cannot wait to have kids so that they’re able to continue their adventures as a family unit. Then there will be those of us who are travelling as much as possible now so that it’s all out of the system before having kids. Whichever category you fall into, don’t let kids be an excuse to not travel.
Surprise! You’ve got an extra day off work, an impromptu long weekend… whatever the reason, don’t think you can’t get away because you haven’t got anything planned. There are lots of websites geared at the last-minute-booker and you can usually grab a real bargain. Hey, even if you haven’t got a long weekend, just book a last minute regular weekend away. I’m sure you deserve it!
The big one. Aside from a passport, you do usually need to have money to travel. But contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have bucketfuls of money. When I was a student at university, I managed to take three or four trips a year by setting a budget and eating ramen noodles. My trips may have involved sleeping in the car in Edinburgh or Paris to escape hotel costs. It may have meant flying to Geneva to see in the New Year and then flying straight home again, but it was all worth it for the experience. I can honestly say that travel costs as much or as little as you want it to.
A definite perk of travel is all the wonderful people you get to meet whilst on the road. Whilst sailing around Halong Bay in Vietnam, the group of travellers I was with shared stories about the weird and wonderful encounters we had had with people from all over the world. The stories were heartfelt, hilarious and harrowing but became the basis for our new friendships! You can make new pals wherever you go - travel is your common interest!
Having an open-mind whilst you’re travelling could be as important as your passport itself. Five years ago I moved to Egypt and the comments I get about living there are astounding. Don’t believe what you read in the newspapers, go and see a place for yourself. Keep an open-mind and you never know what you’ll stumble across or where you’ll end up.
Travelling is definitely about making memories and keeping those memories. Whether you’re using an iPhone camera, a point and shoot or a DSLR; take photographs. You don’t need things, you need memories. Photographs are a great way to keep your baggage at a minimum and make an amazing montage when you get home. Please, please, please backup though, I recently lost 917 pictures whilst in Antarctica! Some things you may only see once in your lifetime!
Don’t be afraid to get off the tourist paths and head to some less well known quirkier spots. One of my favourite places in Italy was a seaside town accessed by hopping on a random bus in Pisa. An amazing, deserted beach in Croatia was found by walking about five miles out of the town. Some of the best and most scenic views I’ve had were from taking wrong turns or saying to the driver ‘take me somewhere you’ve never taken a tourist before’.
Round the world.
I aspire to be a traveller who sets out on a one-way ticket to travel the world. For now, I’m happily taking several trips a year during my holidays. Don’t think that you can’t travel because you can’t cover the whole world in one go. The best part about going around the world is that there are no rules. Take a year, take ten years, visit one continent… it doesn’t matter. Just enjoy the adventure!
Solo travel is either an incredibly daunting or ridiculously exciting prospect. However you feel about the idea, try it once. A road-trip for a weekend, a cheap flight to a city for a weekend-break, take the challenge and you may surprise yourself. Get out of your comfort zone and see what happens when you start to make new friends and lose your inhibitions.
Time is short and the world is big. You’ve probably heard this a million times. There’s never enough time. Most of us don’t have enough time to do all the things we want to do in normal every day life, let alone to head off on an amazing adventure. Still, if travelling is something that you want to do, you need to make the time. As soon as you make the time, you’ll realise how possible it really is. I made the time ten years ago and I’m still finding it now!
Just like disasters happen, it’s important to acknowledge that you won’t be comfortable at all times. If anything, there will be some terribly uncomfortable experiences that await you. Maybe you’ll get washed out of the tent that you were sleeping in during a rainstorm, perhaps you’ll have to spend a night sleeping on the airport floor. Maybe you will find yourself hidden in the toilet of a train travelling from France to Italy due to ticket troubles! The uncomfortable only makes you appreciate the comfortable more so embrace it!
The first trip I took was a volunteering trip to Ghana. I was privileged to teach, build and conserve during my time on the African continent. Despite the outgoing costs, the vaccinations and visas, it was totally worth it. If you haven’t considered volunteering for a stint, I recommend it highly. It doesn’t have to be long-term but as a traveller, it’s thoroughly rewarding to give something back.
This is a relatively new phrase which has been bouncing around. It seems to replace the ‘bucket list’ and is comprised of all those things that us travellers want to do before time runs out. If your wanderlist is anything like mine, things get ticked off regularly but it doubles in size on a weekly basis!
The existence of this word is arguable, but as you can imagine, I was struggling for an X! According to the Urban Dictionary (which I wouldn’t normally use as a source of reference) to be xenial is to be helpful and giving to strangers. Therefore, it’s made it into my list! Whether you’re a local who’s helping out some travellers who have crossed your path or whether the roles are reversed and you’re being lent $30 for petrol because you spent your last few dollars on cigarettes, being xenial is important!
This may be the biggest cliche of the 21st century but let’s think about it… you really do only live once!! Throw yourself off the top of that mountain, kayak down the whitewater in an inflatable boat, look after the elephants who have been treated terribly. Don’t walk away from an opportunity that you will regret missing later.
Never stop being zealous for travel. Share your enthusiasm with the world. Tell stories, make memories and feed your passion. Once bitten by the travel-bug, there is no cure. Embrace it, get out there and go!