Balancing planning and spontaneity:
- What are your top 5 travel rules that you follow every time you travel and why?
I am a real nerd when it comes to researching a trip in advance. I actually enjoy the long process of reading up about a place before we visit (via blogs, quizzing friends who͛ve been there and all manner of other sources). I narrow down where we͛ll stay, what we could see and do, and of course, make a huge list of the places we might like to eat. But although the itinerary and hotel bookings are nailed down in advance we usually play it by ear in deciding what to do each day. All the advance research isn͛t ignored, but rather it gives us a pool of ideas to choose from according to what we feel like at the time. We don͛t waste precious time on the trip trying to work out what there is to do in the area but nor do we follow a regimented agenda that doesn͛t match our mood.
Hidden gems versus must see’s:
I think that some travel writers are so desperate to find the ͚hidden gems͛ that they miss the glittering jewels right in front of them! There͛s a good reason that some sights are firmly on the beaten path – because they are truly worth seeing and experiencing. So whilst we love finding the places that are, if not exactly undiscovered at least much less teeming with fellow tourists, we aren͛t afraid to join the crowds now and again either. Our ideal trips are all about balance.
Guilt has no place on a holiday!
Whilst we don͛t actively avoid the ͚must sees͛, nor do we get upset or feel guilty if we don͛t see them all. If we͛re wholly absorbed by exploring a food market such that we don͛t make it to the famous palace nearby, or we have whiled away an entire afternoon eating ice cream and people watching in the park and realize that the museum we͛d thought to visit has closed for the day, so be it. As long as we enjoy what we do, it͛s all good and there͛s always next time!
Know your limits:
Occasionally I lament the fact that mobility issues on my part mean I can͛t do some of the activities that other travellers enjoy, nor pack in as much into a day as some. But I try to remember that our resulting slower way of travel means that we enjoy some experiences that the speedsters may not – the unexpected chat with the locals sharing our table in the coffee shop where we pause for rest and restoration, the sighting of a beautiful local bird that feels emboldens by our lack of rushed movement and hops back onto a favourite branch just by the bench we are sat on, the views of a beautiful landscape from the windows of a bus that takes a more meandering route than the direct walking path.
Be sensible rather than scared:
Of course, there are some destinations around the world that carry a high risk and are particularly volatile for a given period. It͛s only natural that travellers want to avoid them. Likewise, some activities are more physically dangerous than others and some kinds of behavior are foolhardy. But sometimes it seems to be the fear more than the reality that puts people off going somewhere or doing something, not to mention a mental image of a place that is built on nothing more than sensationalist media portrayals
and social media hyperbole. I would never suggest anyone should push too far beyond their personal comfort level, but I would say that it͛s worth trying to build up a more accurate and nuanced impression of a place (or activity) before making your mind up.