Before you slap on your backpack and march out that door, here’s a small checklist of things you might want to do to ensure a better trip.
RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH
It doesn’t matter if you’re headed into uncharted territory or a bustling metropolis, it only helps if you already know what to expect when you set foot in your destination. A quick google search should give you enough information on things like the local culture, geography, weather and political climate to start with. Oh, and do not forget to check out the local laws, either-written and unwritten. People have in the past gotten into trouble for using the wrong gesture or for looking the wrong person in the eye. Did you also know that shaking your head can be interpreted as ‘yes’ in India?
“Hi, would you like to buy some drugs?
– Nervously shakes head –
“Great! Here’s two kilograms of cocaine!”
Learn a few words and phrases from the local language and the appropriate situations to use them in. You would be surprised at how much a ‘Yallah’ or a ‘Habibi’ can get people to warm up to you in the Middle East. Also, knowing the language makes ordering food that much easier. Just saying.
WHO YA’ GONNA CALL?
It’s very useful to have in hand a bunch of contacts that you can get in touch with if-knock on wood- you should ever find yourself in trouble, eg: Your home country’s Embassy/Consulate(stolen passports are a thing in some countries you know?), local emergency numbers etc. If you have friends or relatives in the country/area, make sure you have their numbers as well. There’s no telling what kind of emergency you might encounter on the road.
LINK UP WITH OTHER TRAVELLERS AND LOCALS!
This is for many people, the single greatest reward of solo travel-meeting new people. There’s so much you discover from engaging with people from different cultures and backgrounds. Yes, I’m being captain obvious here, but it’s a point that just had to be reiterated. Being alive in the internet age has its perks.
A slew of apps and websites have made it that much easier for travelers to get in touch with people at their destinations. It doesn’t matter if you’re just hanging out with your host from ‘AirBnB’ or finding fellow travelers to share in your adventure from ‘Penroads’, you’re guaranteed to meet some cool people on your journey. As a matter of fact, Penroads is the best way for you to connect with international travellers coming in from all over the world, so it’s definitely a useful tool to have (It’s a shameless plug. I am so sorry. But it really works!).
Last but never the least, take care of your body. Stay hydrated. It’s no good if your mind yells “Onward!” and your body groans “Hell no!”. Find out if you need to get vaccinated before setting off. Carry some basic medicines and bandages if you can, especially if you’re venturing into the wilderness. On occasion you might have to be careful about where and what you eat as well. Talk to someone who has travelled to India and you just might hear the story about how the delicious chicken Tikka from a street vendor gave them a bad case of ‘Delhi Belly’.