What makes a trip memorable? The people you’re with? The places you visit? New experiences? It’s different for everyone, but there are a few things you can do to ensure each trip you take, no matter how far from home, is memorable and worthwhile.
Prior to any trip I recommend reading up on the location. Learn about the culture, natives’ tips, what to see, where to eat, and so forth. Buy a hard-copy or digital map and take note of streets intersecting where you’ll be staying. Call your credit card companies to let them know you’ll be traveling. Doing these little things prior to departure will save stress and time when you’re actually on the trip, contributing to a more memorable experience.
1. Be open.
If you’re making an effort to travel somewhere you may already be open to new experiences, or at least a change of scenery. Further that openness by exploring something outside of your comfort zone. It can be as simple as tasting a local delicacy, leaving your resort and venturing into town, or even an adrenaline rush activity like bungee jumping or zip lining. Keep in mind you don’t necessarily need to be on a trip to try any number of new experiences- many larger cities offer countless opportunities for new experiences.
2. Take a picture, then put the camera away.
Part of traveling somewhere is to be there wholly. If you’re standing in front of a historical monument by all means snap a photo for the scrapbook. Then, and this is important, put the camera away. Enjoy the sight with your own eyes, take in the energy of the place, the people, the smells, the air, how your feel. Really be present. By doing so, I guarantee you’re more likely to associate feelings to the one photo versus twenty photos of similar angles and selfies.
3. Let it go.
Your bicycling tour of a new city began fine, then the clouds rolled in and when you suggested to go back your significant other wanted to continue. Now you’re lost, hungry, and rain soaked, and you wouldn’t be any of those things had you turned back…like you suggested…40 minutes ago.
If you’re not traveling solo there’s a chance an argument can break out, typically relating to agenda, timing, and restaurant choices. I’m not going to tell you to hold in feelings of anger and disappointment, but I will suggest to let them go. What’s happened has happened- the best you can do is get out of any current predicaments and remember a lesson for next time, maybe even genuinely laughing it off can help. Accusations are a slippery slope to name calling, yelling, hurt feelings, and tension that may remain palpable for the rest of the trip. Sometimes it’s worth biting your tongue and politely ensuring it doesn’t happen again.
4. Make a detailed, flexible plan.
A few weekends ago I visited Victoria, BC with my husband. Its a lovely, victorian-style seaside city which we enjoyed exploring. We began the trip like any other- listing places to visit to include restaurants with great reviews. What we forgot to account for was museum hours. On our second day (and last day), the Royal British Columbia Museum closed at 5 pm, we had just sat down for high tea around 2:30 pm, suffice to say we realized we weren’t going to see the museum.
Its important to have a plan of activities, but sticking too closely to a schedule can suck the fun out of a trip especially if an outing goes longer than planned, the weather decides to ruin outdoor activities, or you’re simply tired and want to relax in the local bar. My technique is to discuss future plans at meal times, with dinner time conversation for the next day’s run down. That way you can easily flex, everyone can be on the same page, and you can check more accurate weather predictions. My recent addition to the technique is paying better attention to museum times, or even noting peak hours to avoid crowds and long lines.
5. Remember to breathe.
You’ve only got two days to explore an entire city, a planned itinerary, and plenty of energy. Yet all that running around can make the trip less memorable. Squeezing in too many activities with too little rest won’t let you really enjoy your time. Going back to tip #2, you need to be present to preserve a memory. Consider cutting some activities out to put your feet up once in a while, and fit in plenty of restful sleep.
Another trick is using the first day for a walking or biking self-guided tour to get a lay of the land, then make day 2 dedicated for going inside and exploring the top two or three places on your list. Also, keep in mind just because something is labeled as a must-see tourist spot doesn’t mean you have to put it on your list. Travel is a personal experience, so be sure to visit the sites that you think will be interesting.