When we envision our version of the perfect traveler, Mr. Bean probably doesn't come to mind. While he's no travel guru, Mr. Bean somehow manages to make travel appear effortless. He's clumsy, unconventional, and completely in over his head, but that's what makes Mr. Bean the best type of traveler. Because when it comes to travel, there is no rule book. You make the rules up as you go, and there's no guaranteeing where your travels will take you. There's always an element of uncertainty with travel, but it's people like Mr. Bean, who learn to embrace, and, who ultimately thrive off of the uncertain that end up making the most of their experiences. Mr. Bean is a man of more facial expressions than of words, but when it comes to travel, Mr. Bean understands the importance of soaking up every moment and finding the closest way to..."To the beach!"
Mr. Bean's approach to travel is certainly unique, but it's an approach that we can all grow from and learn to love, especially for first-time travelers.
1. Always carry proper documentation.
These days, it's difficult to travel anywhere without proper identification. While it can be burdensome to keep track of at times, your passport, is the key to your travels. If you want to see the world, then I would advise making your passport your best friend. While Mr. Bean may have been able to slide through the cracks more than a few times, it's always a good idea to make sure that you carry the most up-to-date documentation at all times. If you're anything like Mr. Bean, and tend to find yourself in one too many unusual situations, then it's never a bad idea to make sure both your passport and visa(s) are valid. And as embarrassing as your passport photo may appear to you friends, it's always fun to get back at them by flipping through your passport and bragging about all of the places you've been.
2. Try a new language...or languages.
Thank goodness for travel, because I can't think of any other occasion to put my high school foreign language classes to good use. No one ever said you have to be bilingual, or even trilingual, but it never hurts to learn a new language. Whichever country you plan on visiting, it's always a good idea to brush up on a few basic words and phrases. Nothing is worse than arriving in a foreign country and not knowing a word of the native language, so it might help your self-esteem to learn a bit of Spanish, or French, or whatever tickles your fancy. Although butchering a foreign language may make you feel even more like a tourist than knowing nothing about the language at all, making an effort to assimilate is still less of an insult than not trying at all. Learning a new language can be challenging at times, but the reward of communicating with people from all over the world is worth the challenge.
3. Find ways to keep things interesting.
If you travel with the right people to the right place, it's hard to imagine there ever being a dull moment. Unfortunately, dull moments can sneak up on you when you least expect them, so always be prepared to improvise or to have a plan to shake things up a bit when an area of your journey starts to become less entertaining. If it were not for dull moments, then there would not be as many opportunities available to tap into your creative side as a traveler. Not many people have the ability to captivate an audience for a given amount of time, but if you ever find that person, make sure to drag them along with you, because the strangest of personalities make for exciting travel. Whether we like it or not, life is full of dull moments, but we can choose to make these moments more exciting by surrounding ourselves with a diversity of personalities.
4. Travel like the locals.
You may only visit a country once, so why not choose to make the most of the experience by opting to ride like one of the locals. Not everyone travels to the market or to work in quite the same way, so try to expose yourself to new ways of getting around. Boarding a local bus or subway can be a new and exciting way to introduce yourself to a foreign country. On my first day in Peru, I traveled across town by metro during rush hour. It was insanity to say the least, but I would've never been able to fully understand the daily routine of Peruvians if it had not been for that experience. From hitchhiking to almost stealing a motorbike, Mr. Bean knows how to get around. Finding new methods to explore a destination is one of the more interesting aspects of travel, since it allows us to gain a better appreciation for our own means of transportation back home. We all go home at the end of the day, but how we get there is not always the same.
5. Be Spontaneous.
Travel has the ability to bring out something special in all of us. We've all got our quirks and different sense of humor, but for some reason, we wait until traveling halfway across the world to unveil who we really are to people. Living in the moment is great, but have you ever tried living out a thought or idea that briefly crossed your mind? Well, if you haven't, I strongly recommend you try it, because you never know where it will get you. Spontaneity is what keeps travel interesting and what makes for some pretty hilarious memories. I've tried my hand at it quite a few times, and I've never been disappointed by the reactions I've received. Because what it all comes down to is, what do you want the world to remember you by? If you choose to bottle yourself up to the world and are afraid to unleash your inner awesomeness, then you will miss out on a lot of great opportunities in life. Mr. Bean has never been shy about revealing his personality to the world, and neither should you. By placing himself in some of the most uncomfortable and, even the most unflattering situations, Mr. Bean has proven time after time how rewarding life is when you learn to express yourself.
6. Make friends.
Whether you're traveling solo or with a group of friends, it never hurts to be open to forging new friendships. A friendly smile or a small act of courtesy can go a long way when you're exploring a different country. Remember, travel is all about staying positive and keeping an open mind, so don't let stereotypes and rumors distract you from experiencing the beauty of international friendship. As funny as it may sound, the more you travel, the more you start to realize that people are not so different from each other. While Mr. Bean may not say much, his actions do the talking. Mr. Bean demonstrates how even the most introverted of individuals can forge lasting friendships abroad. Being nice goes a long way, and putting an effort into showing others you care is what makes travel more enjoyable. Making friends abroad is one of the best ways to explore a new country, because you never know who you'll meet or where they'll take you. And if you're looking to get off the beaten track, making friends in unlikely places is one of the best ways to discover hidden destinations. Besides, having some friends is better than having none at all.
7. Document your experiences.
As much as we hate to accept it, travel goes by in a blink of an eye. And no journey is complete without a collection of videos and pictures to remember the moments we died to experience. No matter how much it may seem to get on other traveler's nerves, don't be shy about recording that hilarious video or snapping that jaw-dropping photo that will make your friends back home jealous. Because when it comes to capturing your experiences, it's all about YOU. Who cares what other people think. It's your journey, and you're the one who gets to decide how you want to remember it. Although his camerawork needs improvement, Mr. Bean shows us how even the goofiest of moments can make for some of the best travel memories. But as much as we want to capture every second of our travels, it's important to distance ourselves from experiencing the world from behind a camera lens or phone screen, because living in the moment is a lot more memorable than trying to figure out the perfect way to relive that moment years from now. And however many words they say a picture is worth, an image will never compare to when you experienced that moment in real life.
8. Avoid attracting unwanted attention.
We all know those poor souls; the people who choose to flaunt their tourist status to the world. As much as we may get a kick out of their foolishness, it's important to be aware of cultural differences. Not everyone in the world shares the same values, beliefs, or customs, but that's what makes the world such a beautiful place. Some differences may be more apparent than others, but that doesn't mean we should judge or try to critique those that differ from us. If the world was made up of all the same people, then it would be pretty lame. Travel is about immersing oneself in different cultures, and that means embracing cultural differences and learning to adjust. Because the more we choose to accept differences, the better of an understanding we will gain about the world. So the next time you think about traveling to a foreign destination, be mindful of cultural differences, because you never know how you dress or how you carry yourself may offend or disrespect someone or something in a different part of the world.
9. Try the cuisine.
One of the more tastier sides to travel is getting the opportunity to stuff your face with foreign food. There may be times when you're not quite sure what exactly you're consuming, but it's all part of the experience, right? During my travels, there have been several times where I've been served some pretty odd-looking dishes, but once I closed my eyes and pinched my nose to block out the odor, I was pleasantly surprised by how good the food actually tasted. Looks can be deceiving, and it's always better to try new food than to turn it away at first glance. Getting to try new food, in my completely unbiased opinion, is one of the best parts of travel and is one of the best ways to connect with a culture. Plus, experiencing what life tastes like, no pun intended, from different parts of the world is incredibly satisfying. Mr. Bean may not be the most graceful of eaters, but, hey, neither am I. Trying new things is what travel is all about, and Mr. Bean demonstrates the importance of keeping an open mind when it comes to trying new cuisine.
10. Enjoy the journey.
When you're always on the go, it's easy to lose sight of some of the most rewarding parts of travel. No matter how stressful or even challenging travel may seem at times, it's important to embrace the negativity and to just enjoy the experience. You may only visit a place once, so make the most of your time there. Watch as the sun sinks below horizon, or listen to the waves as they crash into the beach, because these are the moments you'll remember long after your worries have subsided. Travel is about opening yourself up to the world and embracing whatever life throws at you, and that's why Mr. Bean is the perfect example of a true traveler. From his hilarious facial expressions to his light-heartedness, Mr. Bean shows us how beautiful travel can be when you're not afraid to be yourself. The world is full of people; people of all shapes and sizes, so don't be afraid to put yourself out there, because someone is bound to fall in love with you at some point.