How to visit a new country like a PRO?

I see people saying things like:

  • I’ve visited 100 countries, most of them for less than 2 days! (my reaction – facepalm)
  • Next month I’ll go and visit 8 countries in Asia! (my reaction – facepalm)
  • There’s this low-cost airline company who just created a new route to Paris! (facepalm)
  • Last year, I saw both the statue of Christ the Redeemer and the Eiffel Tower. (facepalm)
  • I’ll go with some friends to the seaside! We’ll sunbathe in the day and spend the nights in a tent. (half-face-palm)
  • I’ll go with some friends to the mountains! It’s useful for health and bonding. (half-face-palm)

Some thoughts about these?

  • There’s a huge difference in staying in a city or country for 3 days and spending a lifetime in there. If you visit India as a tourist, with money to pay for everything, visiting certain places, meant for tourists, you’ll get the touristic view of India. Even if you go off the beaten track, you’ll be the foreigner who leaves that place the very next day.
  • As a tourist, it’s relatively hard to get any idea how the people are. If you stay for more than 5 days in a place, you might understand some things.
  • It’s little to zero value in visiting the Eiffel Tower. Yes, when you see some TV news about Paris (or France), you’ll likely see, in the images, an image with the Eiffel Tower. If there’s a movie shot in Paris, the movie will likely show the Eiffel Tower. The same goes for other symbols. But this is pretty much all the value of seeing the Eiffel Tower. You will associate it easily with other things you will see.
  • I have this theory – travelling to Paris can be cheap (low-cost flight) because the actual value of going to Paris can be low (you’ll learn little).
  • If you visit a country as a tourist, you will most likely notice the differences and the weird things they do in a place – “Oh, they don’t use forks!”, “Oh, their traffic lights are different!”, “Oh, their houses are smaller!” and so on. It’s not 100% wrong, but, most of the time, you will not use the things you learn as a tourist.
  • When going with friends to the seaside or the mountains, the most bonding experience in there is the road to and from that place. Most of the time, at the seaside you’ll just stay in there and sunbathe (if this looks similar to wasting time, it’s because it is), or you’ll be too tired from the walk on the mountains to speak anything. You’ll get a much better use of your time if you go jogging each day for 4 weeks, instead of wasting two days in a trip. Also, there’s little to no bonding if you don’t communicate. And at the seaside the sun is taking all of your energy, while on the mountains, you’re too tired from the walk to have a normal conversation.

What’s the solution?

  • The best way to visit a country like a PRO is to take part to an event where at least 10-15 people you know nothing about share the same room for 7-10 days. If they’re different personalities, from different countries, that’s even better. The energy, personal connection and insights you’ll gain like this is unmatchable. You should be able to find a training in a country, with International participants, on your age group. Most of the time, you’ll learn some practical things in there, but the most useful things you’ll gain are the personal connections, networking, and your personal understanding on how the human mind works. You’ll have much better bonding by taking part in a training with 10-20 people with International background, than by visiting a country as a tourist.

If you fit this description:

All training activities in the Calendar should be European (or international), not-for-profit and related to calls for youth worker who want to develop their competences to work with and for young people, to share experiences and sometimes also want to make contacts for common future projects. Besides, the calendar can also publish calls for projects in which youth worker will meet other target groups such as youth policy maker, adult learning organiser, etc in order to learn from each other. (SALTO-YOUTH – European Training Calendar – Training for youth work and projects – or recruit participants)

, you might want to check out:

Note: you need to be part of an approved NGO to take part to these.

I visited only a few countries (Hungary, Serbia, Germany, Bulgaria, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and, with a big speed, Slovakia and Austria). But, by knowing people from different other countries, I feel I visited some more.

To me, travelling is mostly a difference between these two:

  • You go very fast through a country, you want to visit as much as possible, you come as a tourist, you have no real bonding with anyone, because you have the power (money), while they’re the resource which needs to please you.
  • You take it slow, you connect with people, you try and understand their culture, their way of being, how they would treat if you were on the same level with them.
Shawn Harquail - Salzburg Tourist, https://flic.kr/p/i5gXsC
Shawn Harquail – Salzburg Tourist, https://flic.kr/p/i5gXsC

P.S. #1: Also see: La ce conferințe / training-uri / workshop-uri / seminarii din România să participi? Cum alegi? Experiențe personale: Olivian Breda

P.S. #2: Also see: Dacă ești voluntar prin Tineret prin Acțiune, poți avea traininguri de perfecționare finanțate de UE – Olivian.ro – de Olivian Breda

P.S. #3: You can also travel internally, finding loneliness a good companion for this.

P.S. #4, 2015.10.08: Desiree Halaseh: “Travel works best when you’re forced to come to terms with the place you’re in.”

P.S. #5, 2015.10.10:

 

  1. Always keep the essentials on you: Whether you have one of those pouches to hide everything in or a jacket you always wear, keep your passport, phone, and wallet on you at all times.
  2. Don’t be arrogant: Try and be humble wherever you go. If you do something that seems to upset someone, apologize.
  3. Smile a lot: Smiling shows that you’re not a threat to anyone and that you mean well. Besides, everyone would rather help a smiling stranger.

Source: Three Tips for Safe World Travel From the Man Who’s Seen It All

Also see: Some travel web sites with good discounts – Olivian.ro – de Olivian Breda

2016.02.05: Update – 12 Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Museum Trip | The Art of Manliness

As early as the 1910s and ‘20s, researchers became aware that as the length of a museum visit increased, visitor engagement and attention decreased. One researcher in 1916 noted that “after a brief initial exertion he [the visitor] will resign himself to seeing practically everything imperfectly and by a passing glance.” So after first being gung-ho about an exhibit or two, you’ll then just breeze through without having gleaned much at all. This effect has been shown to come into play after just 30 minutes or so of museum-going.

While your instinct is probably to take advantage of your admission fee and stay as long as possible to get the most out of it, it’s in your best interest to only stay a few hours, if not even less time than that. Not only will you stay fresh, you probably won’t get to the entire museum, and you’ll be yearning to come back. That’s a much better feeling than not wanting to ever return because you spent 8 hours on your feet and couldn’t retain anything you learned or experienced.

PS, 2016.02.05:
How to Make Money While Traveling | Travel + Leisure

PS, 2016.09.22:

“You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.”
― Italo Calvino

PS, 2017.02.10:
Some travel web sites with good discounts – Olivian.ro – by Olivian Breda

I am a Digital Marketing Manager for The KPI Institute. My expertise is in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) / UX (user experience) / WordPress. Co-founder of lumeaseoppc.ro (series of events on SEO & PPC) and cetd.ro (Book on branding for MDs). On a personal level, I like self-development - events, sports, healthy living, volunteering, reading.

2 Comments

  • Not a pro

    17 April 2015 - 13:29

    Fortunately, you can do all of the above the right way, learn and work and visit and know people and so on. I have been to over 60 countries (facepalm). I have known people from 100 countries (facepalm). In each of these countries, or maybe 50 of them I have been multiple times, stayed for maybe 1-7 days each time. I’ve lived in a room with: Indians, Mexicans, Germans, Poles, Slovakians, Hungarians, Ukrainians, Romanians, Philippinos, Indonesians, Bulgarians and a few other nationalities. During my visits I have met thousands of people. During my trip, my wanderings among all these destinations, I have met all world nationalities and spoke at least once with each of them. I really have no idea what is like to visit like a Pro, I have know the way to do so and get to be a true encyclopedia.
    Get on a cruise ship. Quick.
    Be a bartender, a waiter, a room steward or get any other low-level jobs. It is money beyond expectations and experiences that you can hardly find otherwise. One is visiting India and pretty different to visit it together with your Indian colleague or even talk about it for days after it is done. Classic touristic encounters don’t provide even half of your experiences. Not to mention touring – pretty time & money consuming.

  • Olivian Breda

    17 April 2015 - 15:39

    Thank you, very valuable tip: “Get on a cruise ship. Quick. Be a bartender, a waiter, a room steward or get any other low-level jobs.”.

    Thank you for visiting my blog, now you have yet another experience. :)

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