You may love to travel, but just because you enjoy taking vacations and visiting far-flung destinations doesn't mean you're good at it. Unfortunately, simply liking travel isn't enough. There are a few traits that every good traveler should possess.
If you've ever wondered if you have what it takes, wonder no longer. If you know in your heart of hearts that you don't quite qualify as an excellent traveler but would like to, then read on. And if you know you're a badass traveler and just want to feel good about yourself, go home. Here are 24 signs you're a good traveler.
Good: You go with the flow.
Whether it's a flight delay or a noisy hotel neighbor, so much is beyond your control when you travel. Letting go is liberating, and accepting situations for what they are is part of the fun.
Better: You look at the bright side.
Embracing situations is even more fun. If you don't get the dish you thought you ordered, you just might discover a new favorite food. It could even be one of the best meals of your life.
Good: You try to learn a few words of the local language.
Studying a local language before you visit a new place won't only prove helpful, but it will also show locals that you're interested in their culture and who they are, more than simply where they live. Even if you just pick up the words for "hello" and "thank you," it's a nice sign of respect.
Better: You are well-versed in body language, hand symbols and smiles.
Learning a language, and even just memorizing a few words, can be difficult. Picking up on physical cues and expressing yourself with body language is easier and can be just as helpful. (No memorization necessary!) Most importantly, a smile can go a long way.
Good: You have a wristwatch.
While you might not always want to know the time, it's essential to keep a time-telling device on if you're going somewhere by public transportation. Don't rely on your phone or something that requires charging. Wear a watch, or keep it in your backpack if you don't want to look at it all the time. You will need it sometimes.
Better: You're prepared if things don't always run on time.
Trains may leave late, buses may leave early and planes may never leave. Just go with it.
Good: You make good use of travel apps.
There's no shortage of good travel apps out there, and you'd be wise to make use of some of the best ones, like Noted or Google Translate.
Better: You don't rely on travel apps.
If your phone or tablet dies, you don't want to be stuck. Know how to use apps, and know how to go without.
Good: You travel with some basic medical supplies.
You're prepared for accidents, no matter how minor, because trying to find a Band-Aid when you don't speak the language is just unnecessary. You've got some kind of antibacterial skin care, you've got some gauze, and you've got some Imodium. You can do (almost) anything.
Better: You travel with a whole first aid kit.
First aid kits don't have to be big and bulky. You've got one that fits in the small pocket of your backpack. It's accessible, even if it's never needed.
Good: You're not afraid to ask for directions.
Why should you be? You might even make a new friend or a new discovery by asking someone the way.
Better: You're not afraid of getting lost.
Getting lost and finding your way is all part of the experience. It's a fun challenge.
Good: You don't sweat the small stuff.
So much is beyond your control. Things will go wrong and things will run late. These things aren't important. Maybe your hotel room smells like cigarettes, and maybe there's no hot water or Internet when it was advertised. You can handle it.
Better: You don't sweat the big stuff either.
A lost passport or wallet is terrible. So is a missed connection on a flight. We'll give you that. But it's nothing that can't be worked out, and stressing about it won't do you any good. You take it all in stride.
Good: You travel with a water bottle.
It saves you money, it's good for the environment and it's just common sense.
Better: Your water bottle has a filter.
While a filter may not even be enough to sanitize some drinking water, there are some great water bottles with filters on the market that can go a long way. At the very least, they don't hurt.
Good: You plan enough but don't plan everything.
You know it's important to be prepared, especially when you're short on time. You want to maximize your stay so a little advance planning is pretty crucial here. You leave time open, though, for spontaneity. You make room for discovery.
Better: You're up for changing plans.
Oftentimes when people travel, they feel wedded to their itinerary. A simple phone call or email will usually get you off the hook for future commitments -- or at least they're worth a try. If you feel moved to change your plans, you do it, because you know you can and that it'll be worthwhile.
Good: You give back.
When you visit a community, you don't just take, you give back. Whether it's volunteering, donating or simply connecting with people, you give back because you're grateful to have the experience to be there in the first place.
Better: You continue to give back once you're home.
You don't forget the communities you visited when you leave. Whether it's bringing awareness by sharing your experiences or getting involved with an organization that helps the community, you continue to give back.
Good: You pack light.
You stick to one color palette so that all your clothes can be worn at any time, you learn the art of layering and you bring only walkable shoes. Basically, you "bring only what you need to survive."
Better: You bring only a carry-on.
No matter how long you're traveling, you don't need more than what can fit in a carry-on. (Unless you're skiing.) Of course there are exceptions, but you do everything you can to avoid the baggage carousel. It's just not worth it.
Good: You respect local customs.
If you're not used to eating with only your right hand, you give it a shot anyway. If you hate to say hello when you enter a store even though you know you should, you try anyway. Going out of your comfort zone is part of the experience, and you respect that local customs are important.
Better: You try to understand local customs.
You try to understand local habits and practices because you're curious and you care about the people with whom you come in contact. Why else would you be traveling in the first place? For some people, it's enough to play the part. But it's not enough for you. You are always asking, "Why?"