Whether you are seeking adventure or seeking to unwind, understanding your chosen destination before you embark will help you make the most out of the experience.
Travel is all about stepping out of your world and into another world. That process can be fun, exciting, and rejuvenating. It can also be stressful, shocking, and uncomfortable if you are unprepared. Learning about your destination in advance can help alleviate and optimize the adverse effects.
The 2 Main Ways to Understand Your Destination
1st - Practically
Whether traveling domestically or internationally, understanding your destination’s physical, practical elements will help you plan and navigate your vacation. If you are planning a vacation, odds are you have a few stops in mind, but researching the location further will reveal more fun or enlightening activities you might not have known about before. Learning details like location, accessibility, and cost will also help you plan out your days and optimize your fun-having-abilities.
Becoming familiar with local laws and general practices will also be helpful. Researching transportation systems, neighborhoods, and taxes or tolls might also be beneficial.
There are a lot of European and Asian countries where charging a few to enter a public bathroom is pretty standard. It’s usually only a few cents, but knowing if that is common practice where you are going is very useful. The last thing you want is to be stuck at your favorite tourist destination, desperate to pee but unable to use the public restroom because you aren’t carrying change.
2nd - Culturally
You might be surprised to learn just how important it is to have at least a basic understanding of the local cultures and customs when you visit a new destination. This will not only keep you from making a fool of yourself but also keep you safe by helping you deter potentially risky situations.
In Norway, there is very little chatter on public trains or buses. The airport is one of the quietest you will ever encounter. Most visitors interpret this as the locals being cold or unwelcoming when it’s just their culture. In Norway and most other Scandinavian countries, their culture is deeply rooted in a social concept known as the Law of Jente.
The Law of Jente teaches you to value the many over the individuals. As a result, respecting other people’s time and space is considered polite by not assuming they are available to talk. Knowing this will help you both respect and enjoy their culture.
5 Things You Need To Understand About Your Destination:
1 - How to stay safe:
This is relevant whether you are traveling internationally or domestically. You are venturing into unknown territory, and as much as we would all love to believe that we can wander parts of the planet without risk, we can’t. You could travel to the safest city on Earth and still need to know the risks and how to avoid them.
Most safe-travel practices are universal, but researching safety in your specific destination will help you narrow your safety efforts to what is truly relevant. For example, in Norway, violent crimes and infectious diseases are uncommon; however, train theft does occur. Knowing this allows you to focus on having a secure bag and worry less about getting many vaccines before you visit.
Before you travel, research:
The top crimes in that region and how to prevent them.
The most dangerous neighborhoods
Best health practices and necessary vaccines.
2 - How to navigate your travel destination:
This is probably the most helpful tip on this list! No matter where you are traveling, understanding how to navigate will save you in more ways than you can count. Not only will it ensure that you get to where you need to go, but it will also help save time, money, and stress.
Simply reviewing a map of the surrounding area will show you how to get from your accommodations to any local hotspot and which activities are close to each other and you. This will help you plan out your itinerary to maximize fun and minimize stress. Also, a general understanding of the local layout can help you navigate the area when feeling more spontaneous.
In addition to looking over a map, it’s a good idea to research the local transportation system. In the US, cars are the primary mode of transportation, but many major cities have excellent train and bus systems to help you get around on a budget. If you are traveling internationally, the odds are public transportation is the most efficient and affordable option. Learning the routes and ticket system will help you save a lot of time and stress. Most bus or train systems will have passes available and routes/schedules listed online.
3 - The various available activities:
Whether you choose your destination with an activity in mind or an empty itinerary, researching the various activities available will help you make the most out of your vacation.
We suggest that you,
Look up popular attractions and activities.
Dig a little deeper for some off-the-beaten-path attractions.
Research the necessary details for your chosen activities. You’ll want to know if you should be aware of any restrictions, costs, or schedules.
4 - The local culture and customs:
This is relevant mainly if you are traveling internationally, but it can also apply when traveling domestically. One of the best parts of traveling is stepping out of your usual routine and experiencing a new culture. You could jump into a new, foreign culture and discover things as you go. Or you can avoid the awkwardness of trying to acclimate by doing a little research beforehand.
What you learn is really up to you, but if you are looking for a place to start, try exploring your chosen destination’s history, values, and customs. Some things can’t be learned in a book or online. Others, like important cultural customs, beliefs, and general practices, can be learned, and in some cases, knowing them in advance can save you a lot of trouble.
Knowing that cows are considered sacred in India can stop you from disrespecting their culture if you encounter one. If you visit Japan, learning their long list of etiquette will prevent you from insulting them and help you build connections. Something as simple as taking something using only one hand or speaking on the phone on a public train is considered a faux pas in Japan. If you didn’t know that in advance, you could quickly ostracize yourself without even trying to.
5 - The local language:
If you are traveling internationally, it will help to know what languages they speak in your chosen destinations. English is the universal language, meaning that in popular tourist locations, you are likely to find at least one person you can communicate with.
However, you don’t want to rely on this entirely. You don’t need to learn a whole new language, but having a travel dictionary or translation app on your phone will be very handy. If you want to take it further, you can learn essential words or phrases like “Thank you” and “Excuse me.” “Do you speak English?” or “Where is the bathroom?”
In the end,
You have a choice. Are you going to stubble your way through your vacation and hope for the best? Or will you put in a little effort to understand your destination beforehand and do your best to experience the local culture fully? Connecting with the locals, eating delicious food, and taking in all the sights allow you to build lasting memories that leave a lingering imprint on your soul. Learn more about how staying in a homeshare will also allow you to optimize your immersive experience, and with the 2xcape membership, you can save money doing it!