“We just sort of wandered around all day, then got bored so we came back to the campsite”.
“I had such a big night, I couldn’t even get up the next morning!”
“I spent half the day waiting for a doctor to prescribe me some antibiotics”
“I don’t really like foreign food so I mostly just ate McDonalds”
Do these sound like the kinds of stories you want to be telling when you return from your trip of a lifetime? No? Not surprising. Unfortunately, these sorts of stories are all too easy to make. Unforgettable journeys don’t just happen, they are created. By you. On every tour I take I recommend to my passengers just a few ways they can make their trip as easy and fun as possible. It’s not hard, it just takes a conscious effort towards making the most of everything!
Be open to new experiences-
You’ve booked a trip. Hopefully you’ve pored over all the destinations and have been dreaming of the cool things you are going to get to do for months now. When you finally get to the destinations don’t suddenly choke and think ‘I cant eat this frogs leg!’ when it’s sitting in front of you in Paris or; ‘I don’t like to dance’ when your group has their arms around each others shoulders learning the Greek zorba. It might be that you never ride a bike at home but the whole point of traveling is to do things that you wouldn’t normally do. So when a Dutch man offers you two wheels, take it for a spin! You might be terrified of being on stage but a karaoke night in Florence with all your new friends is the perfect place to challenge that fear. When you are traveling, just remember to say YES!
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener
Know your limits-
You’re excited I know. We are all excited in the first days of a trip, but try and remember….. you have 20-something more to go. Look, some people are great at staying up all night talking and dancing and drinking and most importantly of all BACKING IT UP THE NEXT DAY. But if you are not one of them, try and think in to the future, not too far, just tomorrow. Is tonight going to spoil tomorrow for you? If you are happy to sleep through half your free day in Rome, good for you! If you are capable of being hungover and still dragging your sorry ass about the streets of Barcelona, go for it! But if you are someone who needs a day to recover from a big night out then pick your nights wisely. One suggestion, party hard the night before a big drive day, then sleep it off in the coach.
“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” – Benjamin Disraeli
Do your research
You might be surprised by how many people come on a trip without even knowing what cities they will be visiting. ‘I just booked it because it was the right number of days for a good price!’ is something I have heard many times. Fine, everyone is different and that is what makes the world go round, BUT. If you have just spent several thousand on your trip of a lifetime, try and make it worth every cent. Know the cities you will be visiting and have an idea of what you might like to do in them. Of course on the actual day of getting in to the city your trip leader will be there to give you suggestions if you are still stuck for ideas or directions for how to get between places but it is always good to have done some prior planning to get the most out of your day. My favorite place to get destination inspiration from is Pinterest, just type in the name of the city and get ready for the beautiful pictures to flood your imagination!
The other reason that prior planning can be good is in the cases where tickets need to be booked in advance. Two examples are Michelangelo’s David in Florence and the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. Both can have lines up to 3 hours long on the day but, if you book in advance, you can enter at a set time and not waste half your day in long, hot lines! When booking tickets in advance just be very careful to check with your trip leader or someone that will know, about the times that you will be free in the city!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Make friends –
If you have joined a coach tour, chances are that part of your agenda is to make new friends whilst traveling. There is nothing more wonderful than bonding with different people from all walks of life over shared new experiences. A coach acts as a greenhouse for friendships. The connections you will make on a tour will happen faster, get deeper, and probably be more weird and wonderful than friendships you have made at school or in an office. People flourish when thrown together into fresh and exciting adventures. Help the process along by being open and friendly. Be the first person to shake another passengers hand, get to know everyone’s name and personality, say yes to invitations.
“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill
Be prepared for coach time-
Another statement that has surprised me on many trips is ‘I didn’t think there would be this much driving!’ The amount of driving that happens on a coach tour is not unreasonable, we don’t take detours for the fun of it, most routes are the shortest possible between A and B, but many Australians look at the size of Europe compared to Australia and think of it as tiny and easy to drive around. It’s not that straight forward. Be prepared for drive days, some of which will be only 5 hours and others that will be more like 8 or 9 hours. Traffic, borders and detours all are unpredictable and can impact the time of a drive day. On many of these days the scenery will be beautiful and it will be all you need to look out the window and appreciate your new surroundings. However, be prepared for when this is not the case and bring coach entertainment. Books, music, cards, crocheting or journaling, a travel pillow may also come in extremely handy!
“Your true traveler finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his liberty-his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure.” – Aldous Huxley
Stay healthy! –
For anyone who has traveled and become sick, whether it is a persistent cough or a stomach bug, they will know how easily it can spoil a trip. I was once bed bound on a holiday to Santorini and it was so so distressing to know that there were all of these wonders just outside my door but be unable to get up to enjoy them. This is the last thing you want. Help yourself out by eating as much fresh food as you can, fruit and vegetables every day can be easily skipped when traveling if you aren’t thinking about it. Carry and take vitamins and pro-biotics and have paracetamol and Imodium on hand for if things get bad. You’ll be very glad that you did when you need them.
“Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.”- Paul Therouxy
You can make or break your trip. You. –
At the end of the day, traveling is what you make of it. You have the power to open your eyes to every experience, take it into your own hands and wonder at the beauty of it or to put on blinkers and decide to put a negative filter over everything. It’s your choice to say yes instead of no, to open yourself up to learning experiences and to make the best of every day. Choose to be positive and you wont be able to help but have an amazing time.
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” Jawaharial Nehru