When you hear the word ‘travelling’, what does it mean to you? Does it represent a journey of self-discovery, a chance to learn new skills and experience something new, or perhaps the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in a disadvantaged country? After being in the travel industry for many years now, we’ve come to realise that this term can hold many different, and often very personal meanings.
It’s therefore almost impossible to say that there are five ‘golden’ travelling rules that everyone should follow, but based on our shared lifelong love of travel, we think the below tips are a pretty good place to start! Whether you’re travelling around the world for the long-haul, or having a few months or weeks at one of our incredible conservation projects, make sure you read our top tips – they’ve helped us to get the most out of our expeditions, and we’re sure they’ll do the same for you…
1. Keep a good journal
When you’re travelling it goes without saying that you will experience lots of new things and meet lots of new faces. At first, while exciting, it can also be a little overwhelming as you adjust to a new and thrilling reality with so much to see and do. This is why we recommend keeping a good daily journal of your travels, so you can capture and preserve the unique memories you create – no matter how big or small.
Don’t feel like you need to write page after page either. While this works for some, others prefer to instead keep things like tickets or guides and then write down short pieces of information, such as how they felt about a certain experience or names of children they are volunteering with for example. It’s all about what works for you and what you’ll enjoy reading back years from now.
2. Rise and shine
When you’re travelling you don’t need to sleep in late, however tempting it might be after a long journey! Make a point of getting up early every day so you can truly experience everything your new environment has to offer, the longer you sleep the more you’re at risk of missing out on – and who wants that?
Mornings are also a great time to take photos as the light is often softer – animals in Africa also tend to be most active at this time too, so it’s even more important that you’re out of bed bright and early!
3. Arrive open minded
An unknown environment can be overwhelming, and the natural reaction can often be to raise your guard in an effort to feel more comfortable or protected. This can often result in you missing out on exciting new experiences however and also prevents you from being able to fully immerse yourself in your travels.
It’s always important to break out of your comfort zone to try things that you might never get a chance to do again – this is what travelling is all about! Plus, you never know what new activities, hobbies or foods you may come to love.
4. Eat local food
Whilst we can all be a bit apprehensive to try new dishes, once you open up your taste buds you’ll soon discover just how much amazing food exists that you’d never normally come by – or even consider trying. Don’t be afraid to ask some of the locals where the best eating spots are whilst you’re travelling too!
South Africa really does have some of the best dishes we’ve ever tasted, and you simply can’t leave this amazing country without having a good braai (otherwise known as a South African barbeque!). Bunny Chow is a must-try too, don’t worry though, it’s not really a bunny – but it is a delicious meal consisting of a hollowed out bread loaf filled with a very tasty curry.
5. Try and learn some local lingo
Due to the dominance of the English language, it’s often easy to simply stick to what we know rather than learning some of the local language. This is something we’d recommend trying to do though, as picking up some of the native lingo can really help to widen your experience of a new country, and the interactions you have within it.
We’re not saying you have to become fluent, but even simple terms like ‘hello’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ can go a long way, as people will appreciate your efforts to try and express yourself in their local tongue. If you’re travelling alone, learning some of the local language is also a great way to meet people and foster new friendships abroad.