Travel Tips for a Memorable Trip
What makes a great trip? For some members of my family, it is setting off to explore the world by backpacking or camping. Their itinerary is vague but adventurous with stories that are as fun to tell as they were to witness.
They do ask for advice or travel tips before they leave. One time my mother faxed her European B&B reservations from their house. They were so interested in her description of one that they used it as their home base on their bike trip the same year. They often share unique travel tips for lodging or best ways to access a certain landmark or destination. Chances are, however, that they do not have the same types of experiences.
Be Open for Anything
A little background aids any trip. Some cannot leave home without a list, a reservation, or a carefully-planned itinerary. The Internet is a cache of free resources from professional jet-setters, occasion tourists, and armchair-travelers. Bookstores and libraries can offer recent editions of international locales, but the bargain may be the used book sales. While the prices for meals and accommodations may change, the historical and background information is the same. There is also less guilt marking it, dog-earring it, or tearing out certain pages to take with on a journey.
Unique trips cannot be dictated by travel tips. The itinerary of a previous traveler is unique to their own adventure. Backpacking the hills of Tuscany may interest some travelers, while others want to visit landmarks and museums in Florence or Rome.
Perspective and timing play a big role in how a traveler experiences their vacation. Have you ever traveled with a friend who visited the same place as you but at a different time? They see something you missed or would have never thought to investigate further, such as a fabulous street musician or a specialty store of regional jewelry.
When I took my mother on a trip to where I used to live in Germany, I showed her my favorite places and introduced her to my host families. It reminded me how things changed though many of the places were the same. We made new memories that I was never able to make for the year I lived there. For example, as a student I was able climb to the top of the Cologne Cathedral; however with my mother, we heard a choir practice from the open doors of the same cathedral and went inside to hear more. Both events were awe-inspiring and made memories worthy of sharing.
The expectation to duplicate your previous trip or the trip of others will only lead to frustration. Travelers can also not expect to have the experience as relayed on a travel blog or book. The first time I went to Prague, I knew I wanted to see Charles Bridge. By the time we got there, it was sunset and it started to drizzle. Since we had our umbrella, we were able to walk the bridge after the vendors had closed up for the day but also without the other travelers as they were hiding for cover from the weather. During the peak of the travel season, we were able to see the statues along the bridge close up without the crowds or the glare of the streetlights. A weatherperson couldn’t predict that moment again for us and it exceeded all expectations.
For More About Prague and the Charles Bridge
- Visiting Prague-the Medieval City
The Medieval city of Prague will astound you in more ways than one. Gothic architecture, winding streets, vibrant culture, some of the best beer in the world, and a crazy night life will keep bringing you back to Prague!
Choosing a Tour Group
There are thousands of tour groups that offer package deals to appeal to a variety of tourists. Some are affiliated with airlines and others customize tours specific to a country or region. Student tours are ideal for high school and college students, but their accommodations may not be suitable for travelers who want more luxury or comfort.
If you are planning on a tour, ask others about their experience with the company. Foreign language instructors may have gone on tours, both student and adult, and give some feedback as to the quality of the tour and the support they receive from the representative they worked with. Internet reviews can alert you on common frustrations and disappointments as well as recommendations for tour guides or leaders.
Excursions can be booked while you are at your destination. You can walk the grounds of Versailles or opt for a Segway tour to cover more area in the same amount of time. A horseback ride in the rainforests of Costa Rica can enhance the memory of the trip.
Tour Groups vs. Independent Travel
I've been on guided tours, freestyle tours, and trips that I planned for myself. Regardless on the means of travel, each type of trip is memorable. Guided tours take the planning out of the hands of the tourist so that they can see the sights that a first-time visitor must see. While they may visit places that many others will see, guided tours can offer a perspective that the independent tourist does not experience. Guided tours also may offer support with a 24-hour leader, native or professional guide, and experts who are knowledgable on the subject in ways that Google cannot match. Optional tours may take a group to places that are a day's trip away from the city. Once I went on a guided tour to Italy with a group of students. As a student, I would have stayed in the city and explored the streets, shops, and markets, but we had an optional excursion to Vinci, home of Leonardo da Vinci. I would have never thought to include that on an independent trip, especially watching the tour bus driver manuever the narrow, hillside passes with calm, cool nerves of steel.
Freestyle tours cover the basics of airfare and lodging, perfect for city getaways. While optional excursions and tours are offered and a representative from the company is available, this allows tourists to roam on their own. They may opt for the expected sights or experience an international city the way they want. A freestyle tourist can interact with the people of the country the way they want if they want to shop in the touristy areas or interact with the ordinary walks of life like at the supermarket or suburban park. Proficiency in a language helps travelers get around, but attempting it shows respect rather than an expectation to accommodate to the traveler. When you show respect to the residents of the country you visit, they will be more likely to treat you well.
The same is true with independent travel. My cousins were known to share a pint with the locales and pitch a tent on their property that same evening. Independent travel goes beyond the history of a civilization or the collection of artifacts that awe and amaze the masses; it is learning about the citizens of the world and interacting with respect of culture and traditions. Those interactions put a different meaning to a photograph or a pin on the map.
Go with the Flow with your Travel Tips
Travel tips will help find a clean, inexpensive hotel, but it will not replicate how travelers will remember the journey. These tips are an enjoyable way to share parts of a trip with each other. My mother and cousins who stayed at the B&B shared their insights about their accommodations. What made that trip more memorable was where they shared their B&B experiences: my cousins were checking out the same morning my mother was checking in. It was never planned nor intended, but they just rolled with it.