It was some guy who said “The gladdest moment in human life, methinks, is a departure into unknown lands”. That guy was Richard Burton, and I won’t lie and tell you that I know loads about him because I don’t. I just know that I totally agree with what he said. I also agree with some gal called Mary Anne Radmacher, who said “I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world”. On Googling Mary Anne I discovered that she is, amongst many things, a famous wordsmith, and I can’t say that I’m surprised. Because she’s totally right, too. Travel does that to you.
Coming back from something “not the same”, however, can be an unsettling notion. We’ve all seen enough action films in which all hell breaks loose when you leave your house, only to find that you’re part of an alien experiment/you’re a spy with amnesia/a member of your family has been kidnapped in your absence. However, I’m writing to you to tell you that there’s little chance that any of these things will happen (quelle surprise) if you decide to go on an adventure yourself. Life is not a film. When Redmacher indicates that you’ll come back “not the same”, she means it positively (at least, that’s how I’ve interpreted it) – she means that you’ll come back a more broad-minded person who is better experienced at being a human and other such life stuff.
Which is why, for your comfort – the comfort of the “almost adventurer”, who wants to see the world but needs just the tiniest push – I’ve put together some tips from my own escapades to help you take that first step out your door. Or, if you’re a natural adventurer, I’m just adding more fuel to your jetpack, here. You probably don’t even need me – you just read everything related to travel with some mad, obsessive hunger, like Gollum over that damn ring.
Here are the tips.
1. Thou Shalt Find A Flight Ticket For Not A Stupid Amount Of Money
It is a truth universally acknowledged that an adventurous person in possession of little money must be in want of a budget flight. Indeed, it is also universally acknowledged that some flight companies seem to want to take the, ahem, pee, when selling you a seat. A seat which should be gold-plated and granted to you alongside a complimentary Rolex for the amount of skrilla that you’re expected to hand over. Okay, so what if I’m over exaggerating? For myself – and for all other students and those who have difficulties saving and those who don’t earn a load – it’s a lot. I can’t quickly afford it. And if you’re reading this with your own eyes, instead of having your butler relay it to you, then I’d wager that you can’t either.
You don’t always have to risk your life by booking Ryanair
However, there are ways that you can fly without having your wallet die. Sometimes I race out to a plane seconds before departure, and latch myself onto a wing with duct tape and rope and a vial of dragon tears.
If you’re not quite THAT adventurous, you can also adopt easier tricks which, as obvious as they are, are still worth knowing. For instance, be prepared to fly at weird times if you want to go long haul. Also, if you’re quite patient, maybe brave a ridiculous layover (some of them can be up to twenty hours long, which sounds horrible but you could save up to two hundred or something on your ticket that way… sorry. You could have an epic airport adventure, though, in which you befriend the barista at the airport Costa and end up falling in love sitting under Gate 23.
Always travel in a pack. Keep one hand on your bumbag. Don’t take candy from a stranger
Good days to fly on are midweek – Sunday’s can be expensive. Set up email notifications too, I know that signals a lot of spam but you don’t want your dream holiday to fly under the radar. Also it’s good to remember that not every plane gets filled out to capacity, so sometimes it’s worth looking last minute as some companies will be trying to shift all remaining seats. Harness Twitter too, for whilst it is confusing and kind of horrible, it is also a useful tool – follow every airline you know of that you might end up using and whenever there’s an offer on it’ll usually be tweeted about.
Basically, be vigilant: the bird who doesn’t blink gets the airborne worm. You don’t always have to risk your life by booking Ryanair.
2. Thou Shalt Be Street Savvy
Retain your common sense. Don’t eat food from a street vendor that’s deserted on all sides. Learn the fixed rate for cabs in your area and stick to that rate. Always travel in a pack. Keep one hand on your bumbag. Don’t take candy from a stranger.
Simply – retain your common sense. You preferably want to return without having obtained an illness/lost a limb/been impregnated by a friendly-seeming local who goes by the pseudonym ‘Frederico’.
3. Thou Shalt Be Daring (But Not Too Much)
TRY THINGS. Don’t just take pictures of yourself standing outside of things – unless you are excruciatingly poor but still want to keep face for all those eagerly watching you from home, then you are excused. Try things like white water rafting, hiking, jet skiing. Try gross looking food and great looking food. Try a cookery class. Try something that you never thought you’d try (within reason).
Do not try things like going off with strangers, particularly those who have previously offered you candy, like that shady so-and-so from point number two. Don’t try food that could upset any dietary requirements you have. Don’t go deep-sea diving if you can’t swim. Don’t go out into the blistering sun without sun cream in order to obtain a daring tan.
Basically, I suggest that, whilst being intrepid involves a level of adventure and spontaneity, don’t lose all knowledge of logic. Don’t endanger yourself, like, really. That’s how you become tragic action film fodder.
4. Thou Shalt Try The Weird Food
It does not help to be picky on holiday, particularly if you are attempting to be adventuresome. Wasn’t it Mary Anne Radmacher who said that, “I am not the same, having eaten food on the other side of the world”? Okay, I know those weren’t her exact words but I believe that she meant that too, on a subliminal level. Secretly, everybody is always thinking about food. Right?
When I go abroad I like to try and eat something traditional at least once a day (breakfast excluded: breakfast is a sacred time, in which you should treasure the needs of your stomach above all else. Don’t jeopardize its fragile happiness by feeding it curry or fish at seven a.m.). Who knows what untold pleasures sleep in the heart of a pistachio ice cream, or roasted cricket? Who knows what the weird, anonymous green drink tastes like, or whether it might be the best thing ever? You have to try it. You HAVE to know and then come home to report back so that if it is good we’ll all go try it out ourselves and if it’s bad we can laugh at your expense, which is, as we all know, one of the best ways to bond with friends.
5. Thou Shalt Dedicate Thouself To Learning One Cool Phrase In Another Language
This is just something that should be done so that when you go home and start spouting in Swahili/Indian/Latin you will look insanely clever. Learn any phrase. It can be “spoons are greater than the circumference of your foot” and people wouldn’t know any better. Unless they are native Swahilis themselves.
Don’t endanger yourself – that’s how you become tragic action film fodder
6. Thou Shalt Give Back
If you’re a veritable nomadic hero, perhaps you should consider some sort of volunteering or training programme. You can apply for tons of different experiences via project planners such as Projects Abroad or The British Council (who host programmes like the ‘TET Programme’).
It’s an amazing experience but made more amazing by going hand-in-hand with another like-minded individual
It can’t be denied that there are supreme benefits to “giving back” abroad – one of the most memorable experiences of my life was teaching English in Thailand for three months, and I’m pretty sure that anyone you ask who’s done a voluntary programme will tell you the same thing. One excellent perk, for all adventurers, is that by doing something like this you become completely immersed in a different culture in a way that might not be possible were you just visiting as a regular tourist, as you have the privilege of viewing a way of life from the local’s perspective and often will be taken under their wing. You also get to stay in a country for a lot longer than if you were just visiting, and on occasion (depending on what programme you pick) may also get paid. Skrilla! Skrilla to help you buy horrendously expensive flights home (provided you want to go back)! Hooray!
It’s additionally good for your sense of conscience and breadth of experience as a whole – you never go away feeling like you’ve achieved or learnt nothing. Pretty sure that’s a fact, anyway. Don’t sue me if things turn out differently for you.
It’s also challenging, which is why I’d only recommend it to those who consider themselves truly adventurous. Hardcore vagabonds. Undeniably, it can be difficult to acclimatize to a totally different way of life, even if you think yourself to be quite shock-proof or adaptable. You may also find that you’re pushed to your limits, sometimes it can be quite isolating, particularly if you put yourself in a place with no internet (a heartbreaking prospect to many) or easy contact with friends back home. That’s why I’d recommend you pick a programme where you have 100% chance of being placed with someone else in the same situation – you do meet friends for life and support each other through the ups and downs of volunteering. It’s an amazing experience but made more amazing by going hand-in-hand with another like-minded individual.
7. Thou Shalt Do Something Traditional
Go to a festival. Go get involved in tea ceremony. Go to a museum. Go to a temple. Go to an event. Watch a local sport. Go to everybody’s favourite local burger bar. In really going the whole-hog and fully embracing a culture, you might discover yourself feeling like you’ve found a second home. Or, at the very least, you’ll be trying new stuff. Which is what being an adventurer is all about.
8. Thou Shalt Sleep In A Dorm
I am a firm believer that some of the nicest people that you will ever meet are the people that you meet in hostels. This is because everybody is in the same boat as you (sometimes literally, dependent on your chosen mode of transport), and everybody is looking for adventure and companionship, just like you. Not a bad combination.
Nomads are often nice to their core. They want to expand their minds and have fun and do crazy s*** and meet loads of people. Walking into a hostel dorm full of these people is like walking into a room full of doppelgangers –dorm-pelgangers. People with the same aims as you, and the same penchant for fun.
9. Thou Shalt Keep A Log
Try and save some things. Ticket stubs, or pamphlets, or pictures that you take. Maybe write a little bit. That’s the best way to salvage the dregs – the little things that you forgot happened, like a trip on a bus around the corner or a receipt for some strange food you blocked from your memory because it was just that great/horrific.