7 things I wish I'd known before my first BIG trip

After ten years of travelling around the world, Doug Lansky, author of 'First-Time Europe', reveals what he has learned on the road

5 mins

1. It’s more about doing than seeing

I am no longer that interested in travelling someplace simply to see something, so going to a new city just to have a look around now holds much less appeal. These days, my motivation for travel is what I’m going to do when I get there: hike a specific trail, volunteer with an interesting project, try my hand at some new thing, or get to do one of my favourite things (such as kitesurfing) in a new spot.

2. Pack lighter

I’m more comfortable with a small pack. For some reason I thought I needed more stuff – you know – just in case. The more you travel, the more you realise you can find virtually anything you need on the road.

3. Stay longer

I don’t need to conquer as much territory. I used to think, for example, that a month in New Zealand was loads of time, and I’d start trying to figure out how much ground I could cover in that time. Now I’m happy (and realise I get more out of it) if I visit fewer places, stay longer in each one and try more of the local things in each spot.

4. Plan your pit stops

I plan longer pit stops, even look forward to them. If I travel quickly for a bit, I know I’ll get sensory overload and appreciate the travel less. I count on this now and make some interesting plans to stay put a while.

5. Photograph the details

I take more pictures of the details along the way (road signs, toilets, meals, doorways) and fewer postcards and posed shots.

6. Know your taxis

I always find out the approximate price for any taxi ride, then make sure I’m getting in the right type of taxi and that we’ve agreed on the price (or meter) before getting in. Even in the most developed nations (like Sweden), getting in the wrong taxi will cost you dearly.

7. Don’t be too frugal

I’m less worried about the micro savings. I realised I don’t sit around after a trip and think, “Oh, I should have walked an extra 3km for that slightly cheaper bakery that day I was hanging out in Rome.” It’s good to be frugal, but I’m better at not letting the tiny expenditures dictate my entire trip.

First-Time Around the WorldDoug Lansky's books, The Rough Guide to First-Time Around the World and The Rough Guide to First-Time Europe are available now online at Stanfords. Wanderlust readers can SAVE 10% off the listed price by entering the discount code WANDERLUST as you check out.

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