Avoid crowds. At the Great Wall of China, for example, you can walk just 10 to 15 minutes away from the main areas for a more interesting and personal experience.
Go in the off-season or shoulder season. It’s not just less expensive—fewer tourists also means you have a better chance of interacting with the locals and the environment.
Connect with people. I always know how to say hello, please and thank you in the language of the country I’m visiting. And don’t forget to smile and make eye contact. To connect with people, you first need to be a person someone wants to connect to.
3 Ways to Prepare Your Kids for a New Place
Read books before you travel. Learning more about the destination will stimulate your children’s curiosity and increase their comfort level upon arrival.
Treat it as an adventure. Yes, some things—even the food—will seem strange, but that’s what makes it exciting: “Look, they get to eat noodles for breakfast …”
Teach please and thank you. Learning a new language offers a feeling of accomplishment—and earns points with the locals. As you can see, being polite is important to me!
3 Not-So-Obvious Things I Travel With
Neck scarf. It’s a versatile piece of clothing in any season and any location because it can keep you warm, block you from the sun, cover your head when you visit a place of worship, serve as a beach cover-up and is easily washable.
Earplugs. Whether you’re dealing with music played at high volume, people yelling into their cell phones or the sound of 35 gate announcements, the cheap, foamy kind of earplugs do wonders for your sense of peace.
Mini power strip. Sometimes I think it would be easier to win the lottery than to find an open outlet at the airport. Bring a solution that turns one outlet into several—you might even help a fellow traveler in need and rack up good karma points.
3 Things to Do as Soon as You Arrive