Hey guys, you’re regularly scheduled travel stories and rants will resume on Friday and every Friday after that, along with extra bits on Mondays like that stuff I’ll be talking about below. Hopefully in the next two months I’ll get to tell you all about my trip around the England and Scotland, we’ll here about some more exotic adventures from some visiting travellers who’ll be dropping by to say hey on Mondays and getting advice about planning, packing and other travel related endeavours not to mention me ticking things off my bucket list, book list and film list (which I’ll also throw onto the blog at some point) as well as me reviewing the books and films as I watch/read them. Wow that was a really long sentence.
I was going to put my New Year’s resolutions up but then I decided that was boring because mostly it was about me going to the gym and doing my bucket list and being less flaky with my blog posting. So instead I’m going to give you some resolutions! Hey bet you didn’t see that coming. But you won't be alone in these troubles. I'll be attempting to keep to them all with you. I'll let you know how I do in my regular blogs and you can let me know how you're doing in the comment section.
So here they are. The top ten travel commitments I want you to make for 2012.
Everyone should have an adventure this year, a trip that you have no idea how it will go but full of things that you’ve always wanted to do. Whatever that plan or dream you’ve been putting off – do it now! Mine: touring the ancient sites of Greece with uni friends before hiking up Mount Olympus. Stay tuned for what messages Zeus passes along.
As much as I love seeing the world I also want to protect it so that my children and my children’s children can enjoy that beauty too. One unfortunate truth is that aeroplanes are hugely damaging to the environment. Luckily there is a really easy solution to this. www.carbonfund.org is Al Gore’s is charity which will calculate the CO2 emissions of your flight and offset them for usually less than €10. Honestly guys you could spend that on a coffee and a sandwich for that price on most airlines these days. I’ll have a whole blog on ethical travelling in the coming weeks.
Yes my friends, no one wants to be THAT tourist that we all go home with stories of how outrageous and rude they were. One of the best ways to see a country is to blend in as much as possible. This means it is absolutely essential to learn the 10 words or so of the local language you’ll need to be polite before you arrive. I’m not saying you need to be a linguist but anyone can master Hello, Goodbye, Thank you, please, yes, no and how much? Lots of people will speak English as a second language but making the effort is important to show some respect. (PS this picture doesn't exactly match the topic but it was in Oxford and it was the most politically correct wedding cake I'd ever seen and by extension respectful so that's the link)
No I’m not recommending dieting, that’s hardly original New Year’s Resolutions material; I’m talking about your bags. Even if you’re under the allowed weight by your airline a few days into your trip you’re always going to wish it was lighter. This is doubly true for backpackers it is important for anyone travelling with any kind of luggage. Try to pack a few days in advance to allow for mind-changing and look at weather forecasts. But mostly try to practice the motions of heaving your bag in and out of buses, taxis, trains and up and down stairs or the worst of all across a city in the sweltering heat. In the next three weeks I’ll be putting up a ‘Packing a Rucksack’ blog post.
5. Do it together
There’s nothing better than sharing an adventure with your friends. But you have to put a lot of thought into who you travel with. It has to be more than you just get on really well, you have to trust them completely and it helps if you’re at the same level of fitness with some of the same interests. At home it might not matter your best friend is a pub-crawling, shopping buff if you’re an avid hiker but on holidays it can cause havoc. But that isn’t to say that travelling with someone different then you can’t get you to experience new things but it’s just a matter of balance. Share those amazing experiences and you'll become closer than you ever expected.
6. Go it alone
While travelling with friends is fun it can be really rewarding to know you can fly solo. Get a chance to meet new people, reflect and see things you only notice alone. Just like you need to trust travelling companions you also need to know that you can look after yourself. Peel away your distractions and really see places. Climb to the top of a mountain and just revel in what can be accomplished, by you by yourself and know that you are a force of nature.
7. Feel the Fear
Travelling alone is frightening enough but even when you’ve got company you should always challenge yourself. If you always surround yourself with friends, strike out on your own for a weekend of meditation in Cork (http://www.dzogchenbeara.org) or take a city break alone. But that is not the only way you can feel the fear. If you’re afraid of heights go bungee jumping or zip lining, if you’re afraid of water take a boat ride. The spirit of adventure is in the risk but with risk come the greatest rewards.
8. But stay safe
I encourage everyone to test themselves but remember to stay safe. It can be a dangerous world and travellers are often an easy target. Make sure you know where you’re going but don’t take out maps in public, keep your money close to you at all times and in different places, make sure you get the necessary vaccines and above make sure someone at home knows where you are, where you’re staying and where you’ll be going next at all times.
9. Plan Ahead
As romantic as the idea of wandering the globe with any plan or purpose is, in reality if you want to see the best stuff and not go broke a lot of forethought needs to go into it. Always use the amazing internet resources (Wanderlust (http://www.wanderlust.co.uk/), Tripadviser (http://www.tripadvisor.com/), GeckoGo (http://www.geckogo.com/) you can find my profile on all these site if you have questions under Orla-Jo) to check up on places on plan on staying. Don’t take every internet entry as gospel though, so do scout around. Make sure to have a list of hostels for each place even if you book one just in case you need to switch hostels (you never know what it’ll really be like until you get there) and always have the emergency numbers for the country you’re in. This is where resolution 2 really comes in handy too. Even a few words of the local language could save your life in an accident. (Example: where is the hospital? Is this snake that bit me poisonous?) (PPS I’ll admit it, the British Natural History Museum lobby has nothing to do with this topic it’s just a cool picture.)
10. Record and Share
It’s all very well to see the world. But that’s not enough, you have to take the world home to share with everyone. Everyone’s view of a trip is different which gives you a totally unique version of events that could help someone else on their adventures. So take photos, tell stories and don’t forget to be awesome.