Travel. We each have our own way of operating. Whether it's how you pick the location, choose who to go with, research activities, pack, or simply your state of mind once you're away.
In December I returned from a 3.5 month adventure exploring Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Cuba. Travelling for that long was the best decision I have ever made, and I throughout my time away, I learned a lot. Last month, while suffering from a nasty case of the post-travel blues, I jetted off to Spain for a couple of weeks. This proved to be another crazy, exciting and cultural experience, but in a completely different way. Throughout these journeys I have developed my own travel style. I know what I like and what I don't. I know the best ways to get what I want out of a trip. However, my attitude is very different compared to the way I approached travel ten years ago. So, how interesting would it be to go back in time and give my younger self some travel advice?
As you travel more, you learn. You find ways of coping with difficult situations. You're more eager to understand new cultures. So, would I tell myself not to stress so much? Trust people more? Travel solo? Spend longer abroad? Go to riskier places? Take more photos? Throw myself into the local experience when I arrived?
I asked a select group of expert travel bloggers, to find out what wisdom they would impart to their younger selves. Here's what they came up with...
Nadine from Hey Nadine
It doesn't take thousands and thousands of dollars to travel the world. You don't need to save up for years and you don't have to come from a rich family ('cause I don't). You just have to adjust your lifestyle and change your perspective on what and how you spend money. Prioritize travel.
Bino from I Wandered
I would have asked my younger self to stay longer in each place and spend more time interacting with the locals instead of making the experience almost akin to a tick box of attractions to see.
Robert from Leave Your Daily Hell
Slow down! In spite of how old you feel, you're actually very young, and your life - to say nothing of all the amazing places you're passing through - will speed by you if you don't stop and smell the flowers every once and a while. Smell them - don't just photograph them!
Vicky from Vicky Flip Flop Travels
Definitely listen in French class, and take Spanish classes on top. I can only speak English, which is pretty shameful. I think the world really opens up to you once you can converse in another language and it's pretty high on my agenda to get back to the classroom in France, somehow.
Stephen from A Backpackers Tale
I like this question because while I would have a wealth of information and advice to share with my younger self, I am not sure I would. I have found that a favourite part of traveling for me is in the trial and error - making mistakes. They have led to some fascinating moments that I wouldn't want to miss. Plus, it is during these times that you learn a lot about who you are as a person and how to deal with situations.
However, if I had to share one piece of advice, I would tell myself to travel slower. When I first started traveling, I ran around like crazy spending no more than a couple of days in a city and maybe only two weeks in a country. Now I travel much slower. I often spend a week in a major city and at least a month in each country. This allows a lot of time not only to sightsee and have a few adventures, but also to really get the feel of the city, make connections with the locals, and explore areas off the beaten path. This has taken my journey to a whole new level.
Steph from Twenty-Something Travel
Do not wait for someone to travel with you. Just go the places you want to go and the rest will fall into place.
This is the ultimate advice - these guys travel for a living. For me, it would be great to go back and make these suggestions to my younger self. Like Vicky, I often wish that I was fluent in another language, rather than trying to pick up Spanish now! A few people mentioned the importance of slow travel, and yes, as many of us live our daily lives at a million miles an hour, it feels like we should live our travel lives in the same way. However, the magical experiences are the ones that happen when we allow ourselves to slow down, take a breath and see what a place is really like.
What piece of travel advice would YOU give your younger self? Answer in the comments below.