Many of us twenty-somethings have been bitten with the travel bug and I am no exception. I find myself jumping at any chance to hop in the car or board a plane to discover more of this wonderful world we live in.
I often find myself wavering between trying to enjoy the moment and trying to capture it. It’s the eternal struggle of a traveler to be fully present but to also let your destination resonate with your soul so that you can keep a little piece of it with you for the rest of your life.
These are five things I do when traveling to ensure that I have a healthy balance of both living in the moment and having the chance to relive a trip I never want to forget:
1. Keep a travel journal.
Pictures capture the beauty of a place, but a journal holds on to the memories and emotions that a camera can’t capture. It’s fun to start a new journal for every big trip you take, but you can keep one to track smaller trips as well.
In my travel journals, I like to take some time every evening to write about what happened that day. I also find it enjoyable to sit at a cafe or on a bench and people watch while I write. Practicing this forces me to pay more attention to my surroundings and better understand the essence of the place I’ve traveled to.
A journal is also a safe place to keep travel mementos like polaroid pictures, ticket stubs, maps, and postcards.
2. Don’t over-plan.
It’s so tempting to try to fill your schedule with as many activities as possible while you are traveling. But there is so much beauty to be found in taking a slower pace. Even when I only have a few days to spend at a certain destination, I only plan two to three things per day to leave time for aimless wandering around city streets or taking an extra long hike in a national park.
I’ve experienced rushed travel days before and for me, it really takes away from the experience as whole when you’re paying attention to the clock instead of what’s in front of you.
As a rule of thumb, always tack on an extra hour or two when you are planning a drive to leave time for viewpoint pitstops and meals.
3. Wake up early.
Nothing quite compares to waking up before the rest of the world. There is a peaceful silence before the day gets started that will clear your mind and refresh your spirit.
Waking up with the sun and wandering around will give you new insight into the city you are staying in. Not to mention you’ll get to see how locals start their day and experience the pace of the city.
4. Try not to always rely on reviews.
Using Yelp or Travelocity can be helpful when planning a trip, but some of the best food I’ve ever eaten has been suggested by locals or I’ve wandered into accidentally.
I am big on experiencing things firsthand whether others have had a terrible experience or not. Ask a barista, travel guide, or market vendor for their recommendations — most people are happy at the chance to share what they love about their city with travelers, all you have to do is ask!
5. Stay in an AirBnB.
I absolutely love Airbnb. It’s an experience that makes you feel more “at home” in a new place. It’s especially useful if you need more than just the hotel room basics like a kitchen, for example. You get to experience a more local feel to the neighborhood. Plus, having a host means you can ask for recommendations and tips for the area that you would miss out on otherwise. (If you sign up using my referral link, we both get $35 in travel credit.)
I’d love to hear your thoughts on ways to both live in the moment and document your travels.