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How to Make the Most of Every Trip

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a user’s manual for optimizing your experiences whenever you travel?  Just to take the worry out of the planning part of the trip so you’d know that you were going to have an amazing time no matter what?  During my travels, there have been times I wish I had that manual and other times, fresh off a once in a lifetime adventure, when I felt like I could write it.

Based on my experience, here are a few things that will help you get the most out of any travel or visit to a new place:

Soak it all in

One of my favorite things to do is arrive.  When you travel for hours or even days, you have your mind set on the moment of arrival.   Make it a moment to remember by soaking it all in when it is brand new.  Once a place becomes “familiar” you lose a bit of the sparkle that was there when you first arrived.


Go off the grid

Isn’t it slightly annoying when people travel to some wonderful or exotic place and they are on social media, email and text so much that you feel like they never left? While it might be tempting, don’t be one of those people.  You go AWAY for a reason.  Drop the “media” and just be social!  Do your best to stay in the moment, within your chosen journey or place of adventure.


Live like a local

This is one of my top priorities when I visit a new place.  As a tourist, the best you can do is plan to see all the places in the guidebook.  However, if you want to see the real beauty of any place with all the layers of culture, history, food and hidden attractions, you have to meet some locals, build a bond and blaze your own trail.

[Related Post: Livin la vida Local]


Capture an epic selfie

The selfie is here to stay and a wonderful way to create memories.  You plan for months, spend your hard-earned money, travel thousands of miles and now you’ve reached the moment you have been dreaming about for a lifetime.  What do you do?  Capture the moment for all eternity.  You deserve it!

Related Post: A Traveler’s Guide to Selfies


Pursue the unexpected

Like anything else in life, your travel shouldn’t be planned out in too much detail.  Structure is good, but you need to leave entire days open for roaming and discovery.  Here’s the thing, there are some places you will only find out about once you arrive.  Pursue these unknown or hidden treasures and you will be rewarded many times over.


Make a new friend

It’s simple, but one of the things I do in a new place is try to leave with a new friend.  The type of friend whose company you will miss when you return home and that you’ll look forward to seeing again should you ever return.  You have to trust your instincts, be careful and choose wisely.  The upside is you’ll have friends all over the world.


Do something completely out of character

Do you get stuck in your boring routines and look to travel to bail you out?  I think we all do. IMPORTANT: Don’t take your boring routine on the road.  Use my cure and do something completely outside your comfort zone.  Something that makes you feel alive, but you won’t end up as a top story on CNN.  Do as many as your heart can handle.


More from Samantha Brown:

7 Signs Your Vacation is an Epic Fail

Travel Mistakes I Always Make

12 Best Travel Songs of All Time

Tips for Traveling Solo

Practical and Easy Travel Tips


This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Sam

    I just return from an adventure to see the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo – I actually employed some of your thoughts and will take note of the rest !

    You are right about traveling beyond the beaten path …

    Your Washington, DC Fan and Elephant Photo Bombed Friend,


  2. Great tips Samantha – thank you for sharing. Hope you chose to travel off the beaten path in Jamaica again – if you do please come and visit us at Pimento Lodge in Portland – we are a hidden gem!

  3. Samantha, I live in Massachusetts, my daughter works and lives in denmark, i want to visit her but am fearful of flying, any pointers

  4. Hi Samantha, My family and I will be in Barcelona for three nights in late June. we would like to use our time wisely. Please give us ideas for places to see and things to do. We are traveling with our 13 year old son. Thank you

  5. My favorite story of someone stepping out of their comfort zone was of a former co-worker who toured Southeast Asia by motorcycle. He brought back some fabulous pictures but especially loved Myanmar.

  6. Samantha, I thought your beautiful family of three pieces in the wine the other night and then decided to go back and get the two larger pieces but I am very sad to see that I can’t nest them all in the largest piece because the two large pieces I bought don’t fit together. Am I doing something wrong or were they not meant to nest? Awfully disappointed, but I love the look of the luggage. And I hope you will give me a heads up as to why you didn’t do that. Thank you, Tonda Westmoreland

  7. I also find it beneficial to do some “research reading” as part of my preparation. In addition to whatever guidebooks catch my eye (which I use for ideas, not following every item written) and internet resources from the places I hope to visit (sites, houses, museums, etc), I like to read some of the history of the place and also some fiction set there to feel a bit familiar with it. I have also gotten some ideas of places to see through those books by someplace a character visits and/or talks about. For instance, I recently was on Nantucket and read about an area of town in a story that peaked my interest. It wouldn’t have been on my radar otherwise, but I found it and explored, and it was one of the most interesting parts of my trip!

  8. I love this so much! Great article! I would add: Never eat at chain restaurants. Ask locals for their favorite places and eat whatever the local speciality is.

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I wish there was a user's manual for optimizing your travels. In my experience, here are a few things that will help you make the most out of any trip.
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