What I have learned about travel these past 15 years.:
The experience makes for better memories. I am totally aware of every aspect of my travels .The result: my memories are more vivid. I
Accommodation makes all the difference. Over the years I’ve stayed in high-end hotels and some pretty basic 4 star hotels. What I’ve learned is that my accommodation can make all the difference. .
The size of a city can also make a difference: Staying in a small city rather than a large one can be less expensive as well as safer and easier to get around. People are often friendlier and you get to experience a local culture
Being a poor planner can sometimes be an asset. I always have some ideas of what I want to do on a trip, however planning light sometimes allows me to adapt to new opportunities and explore local venues.
I slow things down if I’m feeling unsure. It’s easy to get conned when people are asking you to make decisions or buy something on unfamiliar ground. If that happens, slow down or simply walk away.
It’s difficult to cope in a foreign language. In a foreign country unfamiliar languages can be a major barrier. When you come across bilingual signs (they were infrequent to be sure) take a photo of them so that you can study the basic words like exit, entrance etc., when you have a moment.
Major cities always have free options. From walking tours to city museums, most major cities have free offerings for tourists. Google your city name, “free” and “tourist” to find out what’s available.
Having a Vacation savings account makes for a nice surprise. A monthly payment or auto-withdrawal from my checking account to a dedicated saving account at an online bank is a good idea. When I’m planning a trip that is beyond my normal budget. I often get a very nice surprise when I see a surplus in my savings account.
Slow is better than fast. It’s tempting to build a lot of travel into a short amount of time but it’s not worth it. I really like basing myself somewhere and exploring new venues.
By road or rail, I need at least three nights in any place. I’ve learned that I need at least three nights in a city. With only two nights I only have one full day, which is not enough. I learned the hard way that you can’t count a travel day as a full day in a city.
Seeing the sights is often a low priority for me. Many times I’m more interested in the people and culture of a place than the standard sights. Yes I want to see certain iconic buildings, sculptures, etc., but sometimes it’s good to go to a small festival and mix with the people instead.
Solo travel doesn’t necessarily mean traveling alone. Although I usually have a traveling partner, I have traveled without a roommate on a few occasions There is always the possibility that I will meet and join a group when I arrive at my destination.
On the road you can recreate who you are. Being on your own, not defined by family and friends who expect you to act in certain ways, allows you to see yourself differently and recreate who you are and what you like. or don’t like, to do.
It takes time to re-enter home. It’s not always easy to return home and get back to the normal routine. I have changed if only by degrees. I am tired whether due to jet lag or simple travel fatigue. I give myself time to get back into my normal life.
Home is never the same place that you left. It can’t be because in your travels your perspectives have shifted, if only slightly by the locals you meet, by other travelers, or just by seeing how challenges in your country have been resolved elsewhere.
Not every trip is fabulous. You would hope that every trip is fun, amazing or fantastic! But it’s not the case. However, I have learned that with time, even the trips that were not fabulous at the time remain with me in interesting and valuable ways.
The travel industry in changing. Yes, when I first started travel was simple. Now we are into technology. We book on line, there are no more “ paper documents” everything is an e-document and often you do not see your reservation until you get to the airport. Finally there is the never-ending security lines and the horror stories that we hear should you have liquids or gels in your carry-on luggage.
Yes, travel has changed over the years and I am a better person for it....I wouldn't have it any other way
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Audrey Hyman is the owner and CEO of the Hyman Travel Network, a full service travel agency located in the suburbs of Washington, that specializes in cruises and all inclusive vacations