Thinking of embarking on an adventure abroad? Intrepid explorer and resident travel guru, James Willis shares the benefit of his wisdom with some top travelling tips.
Written by a Canadian pastor, and often (rather loosely) adopted by many tourists worldwide, these ten commandments of travel have become somewhat of a staple in backpacking life. When travelling anywhere, regardless of how long or short, it stands to reason that there should be certain ways to behave. With that in mind, here are the ten commandments of travel.
1. Thou shalt not expect to find things as thou hast at home, for thou hast left home to find things different.
While this may seem obvious, it’s amazing how quickly some backpackers go from “I want to try everything new this culture has to offer” to “All I want is sausage and chips”. Perhaps it’s not always quite that drastic, but this rule is still number one for a reason. Even if it’s not the food or culture, it could be the weather, the humidity, the fact that their custom dictates you have to tip more. There’s always something that a bad backpacker will find to moan about because it’s not like they had expected back home. Remind them that it’s not their home.
2. Thou shalt not take anything too seriously, for a carefree mind is the start of a good holiday.
Learn to relax. If you’re already an expert in the art of relaxation then you’re almost certain to have a good holiday. Things will probably go wrong at some point. Regardless of whether that’s something small or something big, being relaxed enough not to take things too seriously is the best way to enjoy your holiday.
3. Thou shalt not let other travellers get on thy nerves, for thou hast paid good money to enjoy thyself.
There will always be someone that annoys you on holiday. Whether that’s someone on your tour group being too chatty, someone on the plane reclining into your knees, a local constantly harassing you for money. If you’ve paid good money to get away and travel, relax and enjoy it. Shake off the irritating people and associate yourself with those whose company you enjoy the most.
4. Remember to take half as many clothes as thou thinkest and twice the money.
Packing half the clothes you need doesn’t mean you’ll need to have bad hygiene, it means you should remember that you can still do laundry whilst travelling. All that space that’s freed up in your suitcase will likely be filled with new clothes when you go shopping there anyway. This is why you’ll need twice the money. You may think you have plenty of room for all of this in your case, but it fills up very quickly.
5. Know at all times where thy passport is, for a person without a passport is a person without a country.
This doesn’t mean you have to carry your passport around with you all the time; far from it. Just be fully aware of where it is and how safe it is at all times. If you leave it in your hotel room, leave it in the small safe, or put it in the security deposit boxes down at reception. When carrying it around with you, don’t leave it in a large pocket on your case or at the bottom of the handbag where it could easily be lost or stolen. Put it somewhere that’s easily within reach but away from any prying eyes. You may need it for ID abroad because, believe it or not, bars all over the world don’t necessarily know what British driving licences look like and may not accept them as a result.
6. Remember that if we had been expected to stay in one place, we would have been created with roots.
Go travelling. See the world. You won’t regret it. This is the planet that you live on and you’re a part of this worldwide community. Go and see different cultures and places because nothing in the world will open your eyes and mind as much as a good trip.
7. Thou shalt not worry, for he that worrieth hath no pleasure, and few things are THAT fatal.
This all really comes back to relaxing. Sure, you may have booked a holiday that involves travelling into the unknown and, yes, there are people out there that will target travellers as an easy steal. However, if you take the most basic precautions that you do back home and keep your valuables in a safe place, you’ll be fine.
8. Remember, in Rome, be prepared to do somewhat as the Romans do.
You booked a trip and so it’s up to you to take part in it. You can go as far away from home as you want, both physically and culturally, so why would you still act and do the same things you do back home. In Thailand, I had rice every single day because it seemed as though they struggle to make a meal without it. I didn’t complain. I loved it. The meals were incredibly delicious and if that much rice hasn’t hurt them then it’s not going to hurt me.
9. Thou shalt not judge the people of the country by the person who hath given thee trouble.
If you were walking down your local high street and got mugged, you wouldn’t immediately think that everyone is out to get you. Exactly the same rule applies when travelling. Just because one taxi driver ripped you off, the next one might be the nicest person you’ll meet. Just because the guy sitting next to you on the local bus stinks, it doesn’t mean everyone in the country has bad hygiene. Take a step back and see the bigger picture. Look at the country for what it is as a whole – don’t just judge it by the small percentage of the population you meet along the way.
10. Remember, thou are a guest in other lands and he that treats his host with respect shall be honored.
This follows on from the last commandment. Don’t be rude to your hosts. So maybe they do something a little different to what you’re used to. Maybe in their culture they are brought up to speak their mind and that’s just too much for a polite, reserved British citizen. Don’t take offence to things so easily and in return show respect back to those people. Let’s face it, if it was the other way around, we’d all expect to be shown a little respect in our own country.