Wake up early—Get there first! That way, you’ll have whatever place you’re seeing all to yourself.
Stay Late—same premise! When all the other travelers begin to tire and start thinking about that boring hotel pool, that’s a great time to hit that last attraction of the day or go for a hike. Its’s my favorite time of the day, the light is usually at its best for taking photos and the crowds have gone. One of the things you might want to consider is an early dinner then heading out after. Ahhhhhh solitude!
Talk to people. As you travel around, wherever that may be, chat up the locals! Also, make sure to visit the tourist information places, as well as things like National Park Visitor Centers. The tourist information offices are very often staffed by locals and retired locals. They can offer suggestions only people familiar with the area can. I’ve seen some amazing things just by taking the time to listen to what they have to say!
Observe your surroundings. Take the time to look around and see what there is to see. Sometimes the travel memories that stay with you forever are the small moments, a funny interaction with a stranger, a random museum in a small town, a wildlife encounter or a unique sunset.
Be flexible. “If you see a fork in the road, take it.” Travel surprises are awesome! Stop along the road to read that history marker or see that interesting house out in the distance. If you see a sign on the side of the road that has information about a random attraction, go see it, you’ll almost always be glad you did. Itineraries are great, spontaneity trumps them every time.
Take lots of photos and sometimes don’t. There’s a good chance you won’t be back to a remote place you’re enjoying any time soon and even if you are, it may not be as amazing as your first impression, so capture the meaningful moments—then stop! Remember to put down the camera and experience where you are. All too often I see travelers who only see things through the lens of a camera. If you aren’t really experiencing it for yourself you might as well stay home and read a book about it. Make sure you really see the places you visit—with your eyeballs.
Open up that wallet and splurge. Don’t be pennywise and pound foolish. If there is something you think is worth it, spend the money, you can always economize on something else later if you need to. National Park lodges can be pricey for example but nothing beats going to sleep and waking up in one. You have time on your own and get an intimate experience others won’t have.
Take the road less traveled. As often as you can! If you’re like me, nothing is quite as awesome as finding some out of the way place that no one else seems to have found. The more unique and further afield the better. There are all sorts of random things I’ve run into when I’ve ventured off the beaten path.
Say yes a lot more often than you say no. Yes opens a door, no closes it.
Be fearless, not stupid. Take chances but always listen to your little inner voice. Climb that mountain, drive that windy mountain road, however don’t wander around a sketchy area at night alone just because you’re somewhere new and exciting. Let your good sense and conscious be your guide when you’re out and about. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t rush, enjoy where you are at the moment. It’s easy to start thinking about “what’s next” We all have a tendency to think about what’s down the road or in the next town, but make sure to take the time to fully enjoy where you are and what you’re doing when you’re doing it. If you miss something along the way, so what, leave it for next time.
Just do it! When people look back at their lives, I’m sure very few of them think “I wish I spent more time in my office working” and if they do, they’re probably not reading this blog any way! Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. Get out there, see the world, you’ll be glad you did.
If you need to boil this all down to one simple rule, follow a friend’s wise travel advice:
“Have fun and don’t die”