The answer is simple.
I picked a country.
Bought a plane ticket.
I understand that my three step process isn’t much help to most people. You have to be half crazy to travel the way I did, so I’ve put together a few things that will at least point you in the right direction when it comes to traveling overseas.
Before you DO anything, you need to find out if you’re ready to take the leap and leave the comforts of your home country. Travel is awesome but it will throw you off balance, it will challenge you and it will make you very uncomfortable at times. You have to be ready for food that you can’t identify, people that confuse you and languages that make your head hurt.
Are you flexible?
Are you adventurous?
Are you patient?
Are you open-minded?
Are you social?
These five traits are really important when traveling. It’s not that you can’t travel without them, but it will be much more enjoyable for you and everyone around you if you can embrace them.
Now that we’ve got that one out of the way, let’s talk about how to choose a country to visit.
It’s important to research several places. You can use Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guide books, or the many travel community websites. First, you’ll want to create a list of the things that are most important to you and then see how the different countries match up with your criteria. This is what my list looks like.
Sights to see
Weather is VERY important to me. Sure Paris was awesome in November but I usually like to be warm so this is a huge factor. Food, dito. I love trying new things but I’m most interested in countries that are known for amazing cuisine. Neighboring countries is important because I love making mini-trips to cool nearby places. History and sightseeing make the trip for me.
Once you’ve chose a country, it’s time to talk about it.
Being social is really important before and during your trip. If you want to know the real scoop on the destination you chose I recommend becoming a member of Matador Network. It’s an awesome place to find people who are “experts” in countries all over the world. They can answer questions, give tips and offer recommendations on everything from the best times to visit to what to pack and where to stay.
Create an account
You’ll find that the more proactive you are, the more you’ll get out of networking at this site. I can tell you from personal experience that the only unanswered questions you have are the ones you have yet to ask. So, get in there and have a great time!
Once you are out of the country remember it’s gonna be alright.
Once you arrive in your first “foreign” airport you might feel lost and completely unprepared for the adventure you’re about to embark on. Language and currency change and you realize you’re going to need to trust other people to help you. Keep in mind that 99% of the time people are really excited by the idea of helping a foreigner in their country. Whatever you do, don’t isolate yourself. (Americans are especially independent, which can backfire when traveling.)
Be ok with sounding silly as you struggle to communicate
Keep a sense of humor
The best piece of advice I can give you is…
Have fun learning as much as you can from people who live or have been where you want to go.
I am obviously a LOVER of travel, cultures and the world and I’d be happy to answer any questions you have.
Hungry for More, Monique Alvarez p.s. If there are typos, spelling or grammar mistakes in this post don’t worry about. Those are the kinds of things I’ve worried about for FAR too long. It’s time to just get it out and who cares if it’s not perfect, it’s from the heart! p.s.s. My book Celebrate Life 365 Ways is now available at Amazon.com (both the paperback and Kindle edition). Thank you for joining the celebration! ;)
“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.
Then take half the clothes and twice the money”.