After checking travel tips from Napoleon’s times, I went back in time once again and this time I found some travel tips from medieval times. Many of these “tips” were in fact pure fiction – for example, Sir John Mandeville never actually traveled, so his books are full of fiction. But there were also people who genuinely traveled the world and shared their secrets for others.
1. Keep your bags closed
Ibn Battuta explored the world around 1320s-50s, writing his memories and observations in a book called Rihla. One of his tips is to keep your bags closed at all times, which is valid now, as well as it was in medieval times. Apart from keeping thieves away, you want to keep the wildlife away from your bags. Small creatures can enter your bags and finding them when you are looking for your pants won’t be pleasant, especially if they are dangerous, like a snake.
2. Respect the hosts
When you travel abroad you will meet lots of people and most of them will invite you to dinner. Taste all the beverages and foods on the table, then gently focus on those you like. It’s normal to perceive certain foods or drinks as being gross, but don’t insult your hosts. Instead, focus on the foods you like.
3. Be careful around the other gender
There are cultures where married women carry a sign of their status, other than a ring. Make sure you know about this sign and treat them with respect. Trying to flirt with married women can get you in a huge trouble. As for women, you should respect the local dress code and mimic the local women’s behavior. You don’t want to look too “available”. If you get unwanted attention, reject it politely.
4. Be open-minded about the whole experience of traveling
Foreigners might have a different concept of what is normal and what is not normal, so don’t judge them. One of the memorable situations told in Battuta’s book regards an act of protection which was taken as rudeness. The moral of the story is to be open-minded about your concepts while traveling. For example, personal space might not be so important in certain countries.
5. Homesickness and loneliness can strike at any time
Even for medieval travelers homesickness was a major problem, as well as the feeling of loneliness. Leaving all your loved ones behind can make you feel miserable, especially when you get sick. You often feel alone, partially because you miss your friends and family, partially because you don’t know anyone in the cities you are visiting. Cultural shock can make it even worse, but the good news is they will all pass. In time, you will be able to overcome these dark moments and carry on traveling.