Female Travel Hack · Hacks For Wanderlust · Inspirational Corner

Learn How To Master Your Instincts As A Traveler

Girl, Unspotted  
You ever had that experience when you got that weird feeling that your boyfriend was probably doing a little foul play behind your back? And although he made you feel like a little psycho and even had you questioning your own sanity, you ended up being right about it all along. Or what about the time you took a wrong turn but felt like you were headed in the right direction, and somehow ended up avoiding a massive traffic jam? That’s instinct, my friend. Intuition, often times, is said to be something you’re born with. A gift, others would say. It’s in you, and whether you trust it or not, it’s that tiny voice inside that guides us and our judgement. But how reliable is our gut feeling?

Olivia Pope once said “My vote comes down to my gut and my gut tells me everything I need to know.” As it should. When you’re out in the big world exploring strange places outside your comfort zone, your intuition is the most reliable map you have. From simple directives to sensing danger, your gut feeling sends an alert notification before we even know it. But somehow, our brain works in mysterious ways that it’s hard not to doubt whether we’re mind-f*cking ourselves or not. So how do you determine what’s intuition and what’s plain arrogance? And how do you decide if it’s real or if it’s just all a delusion?

Common Sense

If you plan on mastering your intuitiveness, you’ve got to sharpen your common sense first. It’s easy to mistake some circumstances and turning it to something more meaningful when it was really just basic common sense to begin with. If you can’t determine the difference between what requires that or intuition, then you’re gonna have some problem, honey. Lacking common sense doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stupid. You’re most likely just overlooking things. Either that, or you could just be a tad bit too trusting. For instance, an overly friendly guy inviting you to an underground party but you’re all alone– now maybe that would require a bit of gut feeling to make judgements to see if you could trust this person or not. But an overly friendly and borderline creepy guy being a bit pushy about an ” underground party” at a location he won’t disclose– meh, pure common sense. A negotiation deal with a taxi driver in a city so notorious for scams? Listen to your instinct. A negotiation deal with a taxi driver whose car doesn’t even have a company name printed on it? Common sense. Questionable street food? Instinct. Questionable street food sitting out for hours with obvious flies making a home of it? Common sense. You know the drill.

Know A Thing Or Two

After all that has been said about common sense, you should already know that a little knowledge about your destination can be quite essential too. How would you make accurate judgements without knowing the facts? Let’s use one of my major fail during my travels as an example. Coming from an 8-hour long bus trip from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I found myself finally in the Pham Ngu Lao district in Ho Chi Minh City. A taxi driver who approached me (and actually didn’t have a company printed on his taxi car– mistake number 1) managed to scam the eff out of me. I probably could have avoided it have I known how much cab prices usually ranges from, regardless of the lack of common sense right from the start. And I could have absolutely avoided it if I knew a little more about where my hostel was located at. Hint: it was located literally around the corner– and it cost me $15 when I could have walked.

All I’m saying is be prepared. Spontaneity is fun, but safe travel is also important. Research basic information– exchange rates, basic taxi rates, areas to avoid, scams to watch out for, maybe be prepared with a simple map, etc. You don’t have to read an entire encyclopedia. Just know the basics.

Recognize The Signs

I believe in signs and I believe they’re everywhere. Whether they come out to act as a signal or a warning, or to simply lead the way, I believe signs exist to guide us in the right path. Some people choose to believe in coincidence, and that’s fine too, but throughout my existence, I’ve come to believe that there are things that just happens in such a timely manner that no logical explanation could justify. You don’t have to believe in sublime cosmic power to try to see where I’m coming from. You don’t even need to be superstitious. And no I’m not up for any religious debate. But one way or another, you’ve come across these signs too. If it’s your instinct that guides you, it’s those signs that guides your instincts. I guess it’s more on a personal impulse that I’m finding it hard to explain or to even comprehend myself. And since I’m no expert or clairvoyant, I’m just going to leave it at that. But the point is, learn how to recognize these signs. Perhaps you kept missing the restaurant you wanted to try out. Maybe because there’s an even better restaurant you oughta try all along. It doesn’t have to be life changing. It can be as little and as literal as the sign on a train station. Just stop, listen, and let it guide you.

The First Choice Is The Answer

I probably owe my sharpened instincts to nursing school. Back then when multiple choice was my worst enemy (because trust me, nursing school multiple choice is unlike any other when all of the choices seems to be the right answer), I messed up plenty of times all because I didn’t listen to the first instinctual whisper. I had it already, but I thought too much and too hard, that I ended up missing the right answer, which I knew all along! When you say instinct, it’s usually the first choice. We all tend to end up mind-f*cking ourselves because we failed to listen. Instinct is not something that needs to be overanalyzed. It’s not something you even need to learn. It just comes naturally– it just is. It’s either you do or you don’t. It’s either this or that. It’s either now or never. It needs no extensive knowledge. It just knows. When you feel that something is wrong, then something is probably wrong. When you’re caught up in different directions, then whatever draws you in more is mostly likely the right path. Succumbing to the first “feeling” you get is one of the best ways to master your intuitive gift.

Believe In Yourself

When all else fails– and that includes your factual knowledge, experiences, and logicall you’ve got is you, yourself, and your intuition. When I mess up, whether it was nursing school exams or my traveling blunders, it was partly because I doubted myself. There’s a very thin line between overthinking and simply doubting. The other disguised as the other, it’s all very common. But the truth is, you can be caught up in the biggest confusion of your life, but at the end of the day, you already know the answer. Some things goes beyond what knowledge and what logic can prove, that’s why intuition is so special. Because it’s within you. And if you don’t start believing in yourself, then it’s such a wasted gift. Just trust yourself and thrive from it.

Practice Makes Perfect

There’s only one proven way to sharpen your instinctual skills, and that is by using it as much as possible. The more you put it to use, the better you get at determining what’s real instinct. The more you listen to it, the better your judgement will be. And finally, the more you believe in yourself, the more confidence you will have about your intuition. So put this gift to use. Especially when you’re traveling alone, this is the most important gear you have. Don’t lose track of it.

The Perfect Balance

There will be times when your judgement will be clouded and. You might even come across people so charming and manipulative that your gut feeling has been compromised as well. And there will be days when you’re in over your head and arrogance was parading around masked as your instinct, or your instinct being overshadowed by paranoia. When those days happen, remember that it’s okay to reach out to your support system (or strangers) for assistance. Traveling can be tricky and life itself can be confusing sometimes. So don’t be afraid to ask until you’re comfortable enough to make a decision. Intuition, after all, should be a perfect balance between wisdom, personal judgement, and confidence.

Disclaimer: Nope, I’m no expert on this matter. Everything I’ve written is purely based on my personal view and my own wisdom 😉

INTUITION 101: A guide on how to master your gut feelings as a traveler

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23 thoughts on “Learn How To Master Your Instincts As A Traveler

  1. As soon as you mentioned taxis, my mind went to Ho Chi MInh City. I lived there 4 years, and I learned to (almost) always take a ze om (Motor bike) instead of a taxi. You only need to have the doors of a cab locked on you one time, while the driver demands a huge fee, to not fully trust taxis again. Even with all of the insignia on the cab, because there are counterfeit taxis, and some of the regular though less reputable companies will rip you off too.
    This is all good advice. I have gotten myself in sticky situations by not trusting my instincts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it’s important to learn this before traveling, because you’ll never know what you’ll come across with when you’re in a different country especially when you’re alone. Thank you for the pointers, I don’t travel a lot but it’s definitely going to help!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve heard about your first choice is the answer. Instinct is a mix of logic and logical. There are times when you can’t understand it yourself but you later realize the significance why you made that questionable decision. It does take some honing of one’s nose to make it work for you. Nice post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great article. Something that all newbie travellers should read before picking up their pack to hit the road. You can get into heaps of trouble if you don’t learn to pay attention to the signs around you and trust your instincts.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am so happy that you put these on words. This is me when I travel. And I love that you mentioned that Olivia Pope quote. Die hard Scandal fan here. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I would love to practice traveling as much as I can. The world is such a wonderful place to check out! I wish it did not have to be so expensive though. With a family of four it is not always feasible unfortunately.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Trusting your instincts is so important when traveling – and although I think these tips are great before you travel, I think you have a much better chance at perfecting them whilst traveling in a different country! The language and cultural differences are a great learning curve.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That the first choice is usually the correct choice is also a tried and true belief of mine as well. Our instinct pointed to that answer, it cannot be so wild a guess. We have reason for choosing that, but we just can’t recall it at that moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I couldn’t agree with you more on this. As female travellers we are always told not to put ourselves in vulnerable situations and to always be suspicious but we can actually miss out on so many acts of kindness! Sometimes I do things that I know are maybe irresponsible and could give my mum a heart attack!! But, you can tell whether or not someone is genuine- intuition is such a powerful thing we all possess! Let’s use it!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Its not something you can learn i think. You need to be aware of your surroundings and have the experience to deal with them. This is something you develop over time. On the other hand i just toss a coin to decide things sometimes and go with the God of Luck , Fortuna 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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