Travel better! It sounds good, doesn’t it? Not just to travel, but to travel better! But what does that actually mean? Let’s look at some of the possibilities.
If you’re like me, you’d like to not only travel, but to travel better! It sounds good, doesn’t it? Not just to travel, but to travel better?
But what does that actually mean?
Let’s look at some of the possibilities.
- Travel more.
- That might mean traveling as cheaply as possible, so that you can travel as much as possible. Search for tips online, and you’ll find lots of ways to save money on transportation, lodging, food, and more.
- Travel more comfortably.
- This might mean splurging on Premium Economy instead of Basic Economy for flights, booking a 2-bedroom vacation rental instead of one hotel room with two double beds for your group of 4 people, or taking a train because it’s faster and more comfortable than a bus. You can still save money in other ways. This works especially well for travelers who have a moderate budget and want good value for their money.
- If you’re traveling long-term, say 3 months or more, it may mean taking along some non-essential items that you just enjoy having–books, yoga mat, kitchen stuff, whatever.
- Travel luxuriously.
- Maybe you don’t care so much about traveling often, but you want to be pampered when you do. First-class flights, 4- and 5-star hotels, fancy restaurants, spa days.
- Travel with family.
- There can be lots of benefits to traveling with family. Whatever that means for you. A long weekend or a family gap year. Your parents, your kids, your siblings, your cousins. Visit family members who live a distance away. Take your grandma to the National Parks.
- Pets are family too! If they travel well, take them with you! Just be sure you book pet-friendly accommodations and make proper travel arrangements. Obviously, it’s easiest if you’re driving, and hardest if you’re flying, especially internationally–you may need to find an IPATA-certified pet shipper.
- Travel with friends.
- Girls’ trip, guys’ trip, large group, or just you and your bestie. Or visit a friend who lives in a different state or country. Whatever. Plan a trip with friends.
- Travel alone.
- Travel fast.
- See as much as possible in as short a time as possible, if that’s what you really want.
- Travel slowly.
- Never heard of slow travel? Here’s a good post about slow travel, and here’s another good post about slow travel.
- Go in the off-season, when things are cheaper and less crowded and hectic. This is also more sustainable, gives you the chance to make more connections, and is often just generally more enjoyable.
- Stay in one place longer. Instead of going to 7 different places on a two-week trip, pick one. Or if you have time, stay in one place for a month or three.
- Get a feel for what it’s like to live in a place instead of just passing through. Sure, see the sights, but don’t do only touristy things. Explore on foot or bicycle. Visit the local parks. Shop at the local markets.Talk to local people; eat where the locals eat instead of restaurants catering to tourists. Find a favorite walk, favorite places to buy groceries, a favorite coffee shop or restaurant.
- Travel sustainably/green/eco travel.
- Sustainable travel. Green travel. Eco travel. Slightly different, yet related, facets of this rather complex topic. It all boils down to making the world better (or at least definitely not worse) by your travel choices. And be sure to do your best to Leave No Trace.
- Don’t fall into the “voluntourism” trap. Instead, opt for community-based tourism that will have a positive impact on local people. Support local businesses and engage with social enterprises to make a difference. If you want to support local charities, do your homework and donate to ones that are truly grassroots, by-and-for-the-local-people charities.
- If you’re in one place for a month or more and really want to volunteer, find locals (preferably actual locals, not expats who’ve moved to the area) who volunteer their time and ask if their organization is open to non-local, shorter-term volunteers, or if they can point you to one that is.
- Connect to local people and experience local culture.
- In many places you can find homestays, hospitality exchanges, and free walking tours. If a homestay doesn’t appeal to you, at least avoid the big hotel chains and stay somewhere with local character. (In Malta, they’re literally called Houses of Character. And in Ireland, nearly everywhere has character.)
- Use public transit instead of renting a car.
- Hire a local tour guide or travel planner.
- Connect with people and groups that share your interests.
- Visit off-the-beaten-path landmarks and attractions as well as World Heritage Sites and well-known museums.
- Take a class, or attend a performance or festival or lecture. Check event listings geared toward locals to find non-touristy things to do.
So, now that you have some ideas about what it might mean to travel better, decide what it means to you! Most likely it will mean different things at different times–you may want to travel alone at one time, with family another, and with friends some other time. You may want to cram as much as possible into one short trip, and travel slowly on a longer one.
I know that I like to travel as often as feasible while still traveling comfortably, and to experience local culture if possible; and after our wonderful months in Ireland and Malta, I adore slow travel.
Everyone will have their own, personal, variable combination of factors when considering how to travel better.
I’ll probably expand each of these sections into its own article, over time. Meanwhile, these tips should definitely get you started! What’s your favorite way to travel better? Leave a comment below!