Get the Most out of Your Destination by Doing These 6 Things
Get up Early
I believe it’s worth getting up early on at least a few mornings of your trip, because being an early riser brings with it a lot of travel benefits. I wrote a longer post about why travelers should get up early, but essentially the main benefits are that you will avoid the crowds and be able to visit attractions in hot countries before the heat of the day.
Also, you will get to taste the local breakfast and you will avoid being out too late at night, which can be dangerous.
Plus you’ll have a chance to observe people waking up— the locals setting up their fruit and vegetable stalls in the local market, the joggers going for their morning run, the businessmen on their way to work.
You’ll learn about this interesting aspect of the culture — how do people start the day?
Take the time to settle for a while in a local cafe or in the park and just quietly observe people around you. Every culture has its own rhythm and watching a city street in London is incredibly different from watching the interactions in an open-air marketplace in rural Bolivia.
Sit back and pay attention to what is going on around you. How fast are people walking? Is everyone in a hurry (like in New York) or do they saunter slowly, smiling at everyone (like in Sri Lanka)?
What do people wear? How do they greet each other? How loudly do they speak?
In Istanbul you will see groups of old men sitting on tiny stools in the marketplace, sipping minuscule cups of tea. On Khao San Road in Bangkok you can watch the endless hilarious struggles and negotiations between pushy tuk tuk drivers and cheap backpackers in neon singlets.
In Rome you can watch elegant businessmen and women confidently clip-clopping down the cobblestones in designer clothing and polished shoes. No matter where you are, you’re sure to see something interesting.
Record Your First Impressions
Last but not least, whenever you visit a new destination make sure to take time to record your first impressions. You can only see something for the first time once and when you get used to it you will perceive it in a different way.
Later on, it will be hard to remember what the destination looked like through fresh eyes.
For example, I’m glad I wrote down my first impressions of Bangkok. I’ve been back six times since and I’m used to the sights and sounds now, but when I first encountered them they were strange and fascinating (especially little details like the stray cats).
Since I wrote down my thoughts, I can now look back and see the destination again as I saw it for the first time.