I am a natural Intuitive. It’s primarily how I gather and process information. I love to travel and I often take groups of people to sacred and interesting places. I’ve found that there’s nothing more encouraging to the development and strengthening of the intuition than traveling in a foreign country. My heightened senses really help when I can’t readily use my command of language to understand and interact with others. Once I get into the rhythm of the country I’m visiting, I rely on my intuition, my phrasebook and my command of their language in order to communicate. You don’t have to leave the country in order to have a similar experience. Spend a week in Hawaii or New York or New Orleans—each place has its own rhythm and it’s guaranteed to be different than your home town. Here are some useful tips on travel and getting the most from your experience.
Language – You don’t really need to be fluent in another language to have a successful trip to a foreign country, but learning a few words in the language of the country you’re visiting is a very good thing to do. Not only does it help communication; it also shows respect for the people and the country you’re visiting.
Even though you may stumble over words and/or have a bad accent, the people of that country will appreciate that you tried to speak their language (just as we appreciate that effort here in the States). Words and phrases like, ‘hello’, ‘good-bye’, ‘thank you’, ‘you’re welcome’, ‘good morning’, and the ever important, ‘I want’, are worth their weight in gold.
The rhythm of a language is almost as important as the words. At least a month before you go, get language CD’s of the country you’ll visit and listen to them while you drive or while you’re on your daily travels. Also, get a small phrasebook to use while you’re there. (You can order the CD’s and phrasebooks from Amazon.com.)
Changing Money – It’s rarely a good idea to exchange money at the airport– the rates of exchange are too high. I always try to exchange $100.00US before I leave home to tide me over until I get into the city where there are plenty of places that have lower, more competitive rates. If you can’t do that, when the plane lands– bite the bullet and get a small amount of local currency to get you into the city.
On Scams and Rip-off Artists – They’re everywhere– even here at home. If you manage to avoid them here, you can manage to avoid them anywhere. Don’t let the fact that you’re in a new and strange place distract you. Pay attention to where you are and what’s going on around you and you’ll be fine. Get yourself a money belt and put most of your money, as well as your passport and other important papers in it and wear it under your clothes.
Customs and Culture – Research the countries you’re planning to visit. Get to know something about the people and the land they live in. The Internet is great for that. You’ll find all kinds of forums and personal sites (in English!) by people in other countries who want you to know more about them and how they live their lives.
Get a Good Guidebook – Frommer’s and Lonely Planet publish excellent guidebooks. These guidebooks are filled with useful information on the country you’re planning to visit– the cities, the people, the customs– everything. If you don’t have time to read it before you go– read it on the plane, it’ll help pass the time, and you’ll learn something useful and important.
On Punctuality – The majority of countries and cultures in the world have a different concept than we do of what punctuality is. A sophisticated traveler learns that the best way to have the most enjoyable experience is to adapt. This is good advice in Buenos Aires, Cairo, Paris, Rome, India, Tibet, the American South, southern Europe, the islands and countries of the Pacific Rim, and just about every place except the northern parts of North America and Europe. Just relax and go with the flow. You’ll find that everything that needs to get done, will get done.
On Traffic – Like large cities everywhere from Buenos Aires to New York to Mumbai and in between, the drivers are pretty intense and have very creative driving styles. You won’t have a problem if you take a minute to study the flow of traffic before you venture out into it. A trick I use is to wait until a local person crosses the street and then I cross with them. It works every time.
On Being A Good Guest – Being a visitor in someone else’s country is like being a guest in someone else’s home. Be polite, be gracious and be respectful of them and their space. Yes, they do things differently– but that’s one of the major reasons for traveling, isn’t it– to have different experiences.
To expect and insist that things be done exactly as they are at home blinds you to the beauty of the experience and robs you of the opportunity to discover that no matter how different we seem on the surface– we are a world family, all members of the same world community, and as schmaltzy as it may sound– we all share similar hopes, wishes and dreams for lasting harmony, happiness and peace.
Keep in Mind – The attitude, energy and expectations you take into any endeavor have tremendous power. They will almost always be reflected back to you through your experiences with the people you meet and the circumstances and situations you find yourself in.
If something you like happens to and/or around you often– be grateful. Conversely, if something you don’t like happens to and/or around you a lot– it’s a good idea to take an honest look at the attitude, energy and expectations you’re projecting onto the scene, adjust them and then decide if you really need to be in those circumstances.