I wish that I had someone to give me advice when I started traveling, but then again there's something inherently rewarding about figuring it all out on your own. But I've left you with a few pieces of advice that I would have loved someone to tell me before I started traveling. Here ya go!
1.) Take risks.
Try to do something you'd never do in your real life. If you only have one opportunity to do something foolish, why not take it? Worse comes to worst, you've gained an awesome story out of it.
2.) Be flexible.
I cannot stress this one enough. Flexibility is the one skill you need to be a successful traveler. A lot of the time, things don't go the way you hoped they would, or the way you've planned. But being flexible and adaptable to a situation allows you to minimize the amount of time you spend stressing about it, and maximize the time you're out there seeing the world and having fun.
3.) Get your nose out of that guidebook.
Seriously. If I see one more person in London walking around with their face buried in a guidebook, I'm gonna blow a gasket. I've never looked at or opened a guidebook in my life. Make the city your guidebook. Ask the locals where the best place to go is. Ask fellow travelers if they've stumbled upon any hidden gems. There's nothing wrong with hitting the main tourist attractions, but don't necessarily follow what the experts have to say. Which leads me to my next point.....
4.) Make your own adventure.
See what you want to see, not what you're "supposed" to see. You can find things that are off the beaten path by just finding them on your own, instead of looking on Instagram or online or in a guidebook what you should be doing.
5.) Don't be afraid.
Traveling is terrifying. Especially if you're on your own. But once you get over the initial terror, you'll feel freedom. Promise you. Release you're fear as soon as you can. I know it's easier said than done, but you'll maximize your full potential if you're feeling free and easy.
6.) Take your time.
Don't rush! Be thorough. Don't leave a city or town or place with regrets that you didn't see or done something that you could have. My ONE regret is that I didn't take the time to ride a gondola in Venice, one of my wanderlist items. I have no desire to go back to Venice, except to ride a gondola. Now that's an entirely extra trip I have to take to Venice in order to cross it off.
7.) Make friends.
Be open to meeting new people, even if you're traveling with a group. And get their contact info! You never know if one day you'll end up in their city and needing a free place to crash. But also, be safe. Obviously.
8.) Pack light.
You can always find a laundromat and wash clothes if you need to. You can always buy the basics if you need to. It's better to leave with extra space if you want to shop while you're traveling. You're more likely to regret the things you packed and never used rather than regret not having enough.
9.) Have a backup plan.
This goes in tandem with being flexible. Often, things don't go as you planned, so always have a plan B. I always look back at the time I met my cousin for dinner when he was living in Hungary. We met somewhere in the middle of Budapest and Papa, where he lived, and when I went to catch the train back to Budapest, suddenly they announced that there were no trains left for the evening, and I had no backup plan. My cousin ended up driving me back to Budapest, but had I planned ahead and read up on the trains, I would have known that I needed to plan ahead!
10.) Laugh a little bit.
Learn to laugh at yourself and shitty situations when things go wrong. There's no use crying over spilled milk, so may as well laugh over it.
11.) Embrace the adventure.
Turn of social media and your phone sometimes. It's good to keep in touch with those at home, but traveling can be a time for you to find yourself and learn who you are without all that crap. Admittedly, I'm a social media addict and my phone is always glued to my hand. But it's a freeing experience to leave my hostel and realize I'm no longer hooked up to the wifi and I'm all alone all day. And I don't even miss it.
13.) Taking a rest day is okay.
Some days, I get pissed off with traveling. Some days, I just want my fluffy bed and heated blanket. I want to cook and I want to call my mom and I want internet that works and I want to read a book and take a nap. This pointer, I'm probably the worst at. I feel guilty when I take a rest day, but it's really important to take a day off if you need to. You're better off taking a day off and resuming in full force the next day, rather than have two half-assed days because you're drained.
14.) Don't be afraid if you change.
You're probably going to realize things about yourself that you didn't know before. You may find out that you have a certain distaste for some types of people and things and realize what you like/dislike about yourself. Embrace the change, and when you return home, you can integrate your old self in with your new self!
15.) Understand that your friends and family won't understand.
This is probably one of the most valuable pieces of advice that I was ever given when I began traveling. People outside of yourself really just don't care what you learned or what kind of foods you tried. And it hurts at first. But don't take it personally. Here are some pointerz on what to talk about and how to go about it when you return home from traveling.