In those weeks before a trip, the unexpected can morph into nervousness and anxiety. This is completely natural. Experiencing something for the first time and not knowing how it will turn out can be quite unnerving, even for the consummate traveler. So we’ve compiled a list of activities to engage in before embarking upon your journey that will hopefully settle your nerves, and turn your anxiety into a more positive form of excitement.
- Net Surfing: Use the internet to find websites, blogs and message boards that cater to the type of traveling you’ll be doing and the destination you’ve set for yourself. Use social networks like facebook and couchsurfers to get international connects.
- Literature: Sure you know a little something something about where you’ve decided to go, but you can always know more. Don’t limit yourself to just one book; read a variety of texts, including works of fiction.
- Music: Listen to indigenous music and find out what’s popular now. Be open minded to what you’re hearing; give yourself a chance to adjust to something other than the Top 40 or Hot 100.
- Film: What better way to get to know a place than to see it in action? Foreign films are so rich with culture and so interesting to watch. Forget about your favorite actors and actresses for one moment and take in a new face. You might even get inspired to look for a landmark or try an establishment used in the film you watched.
- Word of Mouth: Talk to people who have been there. Get their input. Ask for recommendations. But be careful not to build your travel itinerary based on what they’ve told you. Remember to stay true to yourself.
- Listen to the Language: No need to be fluent, but do familiarize yourself with the sounds and tonality of the language; become acquainted with the gestures that accompany it. You can do this by, again, watching a film. It’s also important that you take the initiative to learn key words and phrases, such as hello, please, thank you and goodbye. This will take you a long way.
There are countless other things you can do to prepare for a trip and reduce the chance of culture shock. Be sure, whatever you do, to get creative, have fun and soak up as much knowledge as possible. -VJ