Happy New Year everyone. 2016 has been great so far here in Morocco. New Year celebration isn't a big thing here, as Morocco is a Muslim country and Muslims celebrate their own New Year on October. Anyway, Moroccans have a habit of eating cakes on New Year's Eve, no one seem to have explanation to it, but that's what they do. So we casually ended up taking a walk in the centre and had a cup of coffee. In the evening we ate cake all together with family, which was very nice.
As the title says, here are 10 things I learned about traveling in 2015.
1. Avoid short stopovers because things don't go as planned
- I can't forget how nervous I was last February returning from Istanbul and having to have a stop-over in Kiev, Ukraine. Not because of the war or anything like that but because I only had total of 50 minutes transfer time. I was kind of forced to take that flight, so I had no choice but wish I'd make it. And I did. But it certainly doesn't mean, that you will make it or that I will make it next time.
The general rule would be to make sure that you have at least 2 hours, preferably 3 hours time between your flights. More the better. I noticed that sometimes 2 hours isn't enough. I had a flight from Amsterdam to Madrid and then I'd continue from Madrid to Rabat with another airline. Of course, the flight was late about 20 minutes and my baggage lost so I ended up running like a headless chicken, 99% sure that I'll miss my flight but yeah after taken to a drug test at the customs, probably because of my nervousness, I made it to the flight. If it was 10 to 30 seconds later, it would have been too late. Thanks to my luck and to running like zombies chasing me.
2. Make sure your insurance includes all things you want it to
- This is not only about travel insurance but all kinds. I recommend to make sure very carefully what exactly your insurance includes, as I've been taken aback few times this year around this issue. I've noticed that the name of the insurance can say things that aren't necessarily true. For example, I thought having continuous travel insurance is as it says continuous. Well it wasn't and I learned that in a pretty tricky situation. On August, just a day before my flight back home I fell very ill and wanted to inquire my options considering insurance, only to find out that as my travels exceeded 45 days duration, I wasn't insured anymore. Excuse-moi?
3. Low season can be a great season
- I've haven't been travelling during low season that much, except in Morocco and some European cities. If you read my latests post about Istanbul on February, you may have figured out, I really recommend travelling there in low season. Of course, you might miss some things that would be available or possible during high season but there are a lot of good aspects that makes the loss bearable. Low season is a good choice for budget travellers, travelling to cities or destinations which have a lot to see even the weather isn’t the greatest. I wouldn't maybe recommend going to a destination where the beach is the thing, if the forecast is promising snow and wind. You got the point.
4. Use hand baggage only, if possible
- To be honest 2015’s air travelling for me wasn’t the easiest and the smoothest. My latest experience included delayed flight, almost missing another one and losing my luggage somewhere along the way. Hand luggage = if you lose it, you have no one else but yourself to blame. When it's time to go home, I'll definitely insist to take only hand baggage, even if I have 23kg checked baggage included in my ticket. No thanks. P.S I just got my baggage 2 days before going home, great.
5. Stay open minded
- Once you get outside your homeland or even your hometown be prepared to be open minded. Travelling, in most cases, means getting outside your own comfort zone and it automatically means that things that will happen or might happen aren't completely in your own hands. Therefore, it's very recommended to be open minded and have patience over any situation. As a inner control freak, I've figured it out that worrying just simply doesn't change a thing.
- I highly recommend you to take advantage of all the things travelling gives you. If you find a nice restaurant along the beach which serve perfect dish, why not eat there as many times as you wish? You'll miss it when you cook ramons in your student dorm back at home. If you paid a very interesting visit to a neighbourhood but couldn't see everything it has to offer, go there again. Listen to yourself and forget about the rules, there should be no rules for how to spend your travels. Just Enjoy.
7. Wait for the best, but expect the worst
- Okay, this might sound a little too harsh. By quoting Forever Young, I want to say that dreaming about perfection isn't good idea as with that attitude the risk of ruining yours or your company's holiday is guaranteed. Perfect doesn't happen, no matter what the commercials say. Don't get me wrong now, I just have came to this conclusion that when you don't have too high expectations, you end up enjoying your travels more. It's pretty unrealistic to expect pure perfection even in some beautiful exotic island. Be prepared to get bitten by mosquitos, some warmed up coke or noisy drunk tourists in the other side of your hotel room door. Life happens even on holidays.
8. Communicate with the locals
- Best way to get to know another culture is to talk with locals. I'd say all places I've travelled to there has been friendly and open minded locals ready to share their tips and opinions. And those tips has been the best so far. Many of my friendships have started by me asking someone tips or a way to somewhere and they have been nice and offered their company. I always prefer hanging out with a local, so you get the most out of the place. Nothing is more pure form of information than the stories from people who actually lived their lives there. So, to get to know the place, you need to get to know its people.
9. How to pack for 3 months trip using just 10kg cabin baggage
- I can finally add that skill to my list of personal super powers. I still wouldn't say I enjoy doing it or I stopped getting headache from packing but I've come a long way. I still remember how I packed literally for 3 days trying to choose what to bring and what not for my 1 month stay here in Morocco. When I finally closed the zipper and flew here and opened the bag to see what I brought, I ended up saying ''what the actual ..... I brought?''. Now I bring only essential and multipurpose clothing.
10. It indeed is my dream career
- I got accepted to the university I wanted, to study Tourism business in English. I've dreamed about when the time comes that I could study tourism field. Now after one semester of studies in Porvoo, I feel I'm in the right place. I can't wait to turn my knowledge gained from my experiences to professional expertise with help of my studies. I'm very excited to see what 2016 has to offer and all things future holds for me.