How to Feel Like an Empowered and Professional Traveler
Most think of vacation as a getaway — that's why it's called such. However, an empowered and professional traveler realizes that traveling is transformational and not about running away from life.
Burn out or feeling stuck typically leads you to travel. When you set off on a journey to vacation, rather than simply be, you become the typical tourist. Common sense flies out the tour bus window. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your trip and feel like a mindful and empowered traveler that knows exactly what they're after.
Let Reverse Culture Shock Seep In
You set out to travel the world for a reason, even when you can't name it for yourself in the moment. You do it to get to know yourself and the world better, to lose outdated perspectives and fears — to expand your horizons.
Finally, you decide to actually get out there and see what this traveling thing is all about. Whether you travel domestically or internationally, culture shock inevitably takes you by surprise in all its unnerving glory. In the moment, it's beautiful and intoxicating as your senses come alive in a way they never did before.
Just as you start to feel like a local, you must go home again. Reverse cultural shock is there to greet you.
It's funny how the roots you thought you set in your childhood home or native country were firm, but travel makes you realize how interconnected everything and everyone is. You can come home literally tongue-tied after learning to speak and act in a whole new way. Sometimes difficulty follows an intense experience, once meaning sets in and grows its own roots.
Your perspective and beliefs will change when you travel. To be an empowered traveler, let reverse culture shock seep in and find out what it means to you on a deeper level.
Keep it Local
When you travel the big wide world, what you define as "local" changes and shifts with each respective culture and their perimeters of the term. Don't deny yourself that experience. Keep it local to be an empowered and professional traveler.
Do your research and invest your money and time into the truly local. Pay attention to who owns restaurants, hotels and entertainment experiences. Where are the products you're consuming being made? While local nonprofits may feel like a safe investment, don't discount local shops.
Coffee is universal — engage a local over a cup of coffee and ask where you should go, should you feel like following your wanderlust whims.
Take advantage of the technologically connected world to feel less alone and more networked among the locals of any nation. You can travel without feeling like a tourist with apps like EatWith, which pairs you with a local willing to cook and share a meal with you, or Party With A Local, which lets you post a status about what you want to find — such as dancing with locals at the best under the radar club for salsa in Cuba. Save more money, too!
Shopping Without Dropping
Research conducted by the U.S. Travel Association reveals shopping placed third as a top leisure activity for domestic travelers in the U.S. and as the top leisure activity for international travelers.
So, how do you shop with confidence in a new area? Start by avoiding unfamiliar products which can mislead you, such as a product being made in an entirely different country than stated. If you took a cooking class and want to take a spice home from the local market, that's a different story — go for it!
Many tourists look forward to taking advantage of duty-free shopping without thinking about what they're buying, why they're buying it, and what "duty-free" really means.
Items may be tax-free, but the “bargains” are false. Watch for raised prices for items of little value, and besides, who wants to shop “locally” in the airport, anyway?Approach duty-free with a professional traveler attitude: think more carefully about your purchase.
Say you're in the Caribbean at Little Switzerland shopping in branded boutiques on the strip. Little Switzerland offers a “best price guarantee” on items that are truly duty-free and tax-free, but it's important to check the product against the details. When the facts check out, you can too.
Consider purchases wisely. If a deal seems too good to be true, do your research.
Bonus tip: Ship purchases home to avoid breaking the zipper on your carry-on bag or buying a new bag for pointless souvenirs that may get lost in baggage claim.
Get to know yourself while traveling. Don't be afraid to take yourself out to dinner or engage in a brief conversation with a stranger. What you think of as “normal” will shift. Even things that appear normal are striking in detail.
So, let cultural shock seep in, especially when you get home. Let your vision of the world change but take some common sense with you when you travel — don't shop until you drop, hastily grabbing up every duty-free “bargain” you find in the bins.
Keep it local to get more out of your experience as a mindful, empowered, and professional traveler. Travel is transformational, and you'll find beautiful variations of your whole self in different places.
Human beings exist on a spectrum, and you're more gorgeous for being just who you are, no matter where you are.