To enjoy your travel you need to work a little at it. Your attitude and how much you try to connect with that new culture and join in will make all the difference in how memorable your trip is.
You do want to be positive and expect to have a good time… we really believe you get what you’re looking for, so you might as well expect to have good things happen and have fun.
On the other hand, don’t expect to just float through this trip you’ve imagined without having to put a little effort into connecting with the local places and people.
Travel isn’t always easy. I had a friend who was recovering from a divorce and looking for a new relationship. She said before she ever got serious again, she would have to travel with her new partner because travel brings out the worst and the best in you. I thought there was something to that.
Learn to go with the local time tables… not every culture operates at the same pace. Some cultures even have words to slow you down… in Swahili “pole, pole” means slowly, slowly. In a culture where things just don’t happen quickly, there is no reason to work yourself up over it. The only way to enjoy your travel is to slow down to their pace and observe how it works for them.
Respect the local culture and don’t gawk or make fun of it. The right attitude can lead to wonderful experiences. In Kenya one trip, our guide told us we were driving right past his village. We asked if he would like to stop to see his wife and children. We went with him.
They lived in a house that was humble by western standards but fine by theirs. His wife served us tea, telling us not to worry, that it was made with boiled water. Then she apologized that her house was a mess because she wasn’t expecting company… THEN she said the next time we came to Africa, we should plan to stay with them. Can’t you just hear yourself or your friends making all of the same protestations and the same invitations?
Join in when you can. In the Italian town of Gubbio, they were preparing for their annual “Ceri Race Festival”. The teams were meeting in their neighborhoods. We suggested to our friends that we should buy a jug of wine and ask if we could join the street party. Our friends didn’t want to intrude, so we went to a local restaurant.
But wait, one of the teams, the Yellow Team, came in and went into a back room…. when the conga line snaked out and onto the street, we joined in. We sang for them… “Yellow Rose of Texas” and “Yellow Submarine” anyone? At first our friends wanted to crawl away, but soon we were sharing wine with everyone. We partied the night away with the Yellow Team in fractured English and Italian…. and our friends haven’t stopped talking about it since. You can’t sign up for that on a tour… you just have to lose your inhibitions and join in.
Become an extrovert… join in. Keep yourself humble… acknowledge that your way is not the only way. Get lost, but don’t get frustrated, take it as an opportunity to meet locals and ask questions. Adjust your attitude and enjoy your travel.