All of us are traveling much more than we used to, mainly thanks to cheap airfare and great deals on hotels and Airbnb. Because we travel more, we’re trying to save costs and cut some corners of enjoyment; quantity over quality.
That’s why when you travel, you can pull a few tricks to elevate the experience, without necessarily spending a great deal of money, tricks that will make you feel like a winner and make others treat you like one.
Traveling triggers a certain type of response in the brain. Humans are a naturally nomadic species, and throughout history whenever there was an option for travel and exploration, we have taken it. It is a way to escape the mundaneness of the everyday life, to open up your senses and to get out of your comfort zone. It opens the eyes and excites the senses in ways that many people haven’t felt since they were kids. A trip, properly prepared for, is one of the best experiences many of us will have.
You can’t plan for every possible contingency when traveling though, and that is part of the adventure. At the end of the day you will have to let go of trying to control every aspect of the trip. Let the journey carry you to unexpected places and you will truly have something to write home about.
With that said, there are five specific principles I try and live by when I take a trip, and they have made my experiences immensely more fulfilling and fun.
Do Your Research and Go to All the Right Places
Explore and do what YOU want. If you only have a limited time in a country, hitting the tourist traps may very well be one of the worst ways to spend your time. Being herded in with a mob of other foreigners is just not the exotic adventure most seek out when they visit another country.
Put some time aside to see something if it is a must on your list, but give yourself free time to just explore and meet people. Being in another country isn’t just about seeing different architecture or seeing a new painting, it’s about the culture and experiencing how other humans live. The more on the tourist trail you stay, the less of that country you will actually experience.
Try checking out travel blogs or sites like coolcousin.com to see what the locals recommend. The best sites are very often just off the beaten path.
Bring a Hot Companion (or Arrange to Meet)
Doing something amazing is always better with someone to share it with. There is a big difference in traveling with someone, and traveling and eventually meeting someone. Most of my excursions have been done alone, but this has allowed me to meet some of the most interesting people from some of the most interesting places.
When you arrive with somebody, your social interactions become much more insular. It often becomes an island of you and your companion from home in a sea others. Without someone else initially there, it forces you to open up and meet locals and other travelers – and doing that opens you up to a whole new world of possibilities that lie outside of the trodden path.
Making friends is all well and good, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Romantic flings of every kind are a bit of a travel cliché for a reason. People in a new place, on an adventure, want to live it to the max. This brings out the romantic in many, and I have witnessed both serious and not-so-serious relationships come from something as simple as a shared tuk-tuk ride. Plus, it’s human nature that everything is a bit better with somebody new and attractive by your side. Plus, if you do decide to go to a casino – now you have someone to blow on your dice for you!
With technology, finding new friends and romantic interests is easier than ever. There are entire apps dedicated to meeting other travelers, or for travelers to meet locals. Check out apps and sites like Backpackr, Triplisher, and Tripr. Really there are too many of these services to list them all, plus there are usually destination country specific versions as well. Popular social media apps like Instagram and Tinder are also still extremely effective for finding local people you may share interests with.
Visit a Casino
Not everything you do has to be “enriching”; this is another trap that prevents many from really enjoying their trip. A vacation is a vacation and you should do what you want to do. Hit the casino, go to a bar and just have fun.
In fact, going to a casino dressed for success is still one of the most fun and ego-boosting activities you can do in my opinion, regardless of where in the world you are; if you are in Europe, you should know that UK casino games are all the rage, and then some. Even if you don’t have a lot to spend, put on the airs of a high roller and soak up that ego boost.
(Over-) Dress for the Occasion
Until you make it a point to purposely test this theory, you won’t believe how much of a difference what you wear affects how others look at and treat you. We are all fairly conscious about the way we dress back home and how that is portrayed to the world – yet when people travel it seems they have a hard time gauging how what they are wearing still affects perception.
It is easy in a hot climate like Thailand, for example, to just eschew nicer clothes and wear shorts and tank tops all the time – it really is much more comfortable that way – but the people will simply treat you as a somewhat slob-ish tourist. They will sell you things but that is about it. Overdress a bit and look good and the entire experience will shift.
Wear Sunglasses Indoors
Looking like a high-roller and acting the part will open amazing doors for you in some of the most unlikely places. Even something as simple as “tactical accessories,” rocking sunglasses indoors for example, will bring you an inordinate amount of attention – and if you look good – that attention will almost undoubtedly be positive.
So stop thinking about it and just do it. Grab your best clothes, throw on some shades and make waves in a faraway land. If your life was a movie, would you want to watch it?