by Rodger Crane ,
So you’re finally going for it — planning that overseas trip you’ve been dreaming about. You’ve always wanted to visit new and exciting areas of the world, see ancient wonders, learn about new cultures, experience new foods and meet new people. However, international travel differs from domestic in a number of ways, and you should be prepared. Here some key guidelines to live by while traveling in a foreign country:
Educate Ahead Of Time
Take some time to educate yourself and your fellow travelers about the countries and specific regions you will be traveling to. Don’t expect to find the attitudes, atmosphere and culture to be like what you left at home; embrace the diversity and be respectful of the cultural norms as well as the “dos and don’ts” of the area. And blessed is he or she who can say “hello,” “please” and “thank you” in the local language.
Become One With Your Passport
Engrain the habit of keeping your passport with you — safely hidden away somewhere on your person — at all times. A person without a passport may as well be a refugee without a country.
Get Off The Beaten Path
While tour guides and fancy Westernized vacations can serve a purpose for the uninitiated traveler, strive to stray off the beaten path at least a couple of times on your trip. After you’ve seen the known tourist hot spots, do a bit of exploring on your own. Eat and shop at places the locals favor.
The explosion of technology in recent years has made certain aspects of travel easier than ever. There are a number of free or very affordable “apps” you can download to your smartphone to enhance just about every aspect of travel. The LocalEats app can help you find the best local cuisine wherever you travel. Travel App Box has been called the “Swiss army knife” of travel apps. It features a currency converter, tip calculator for each country, country codes, clothing size converter, a phrase dictionary for 5 languages, emergency numbers for each country and even pictograms to show to the locals when you don’t know the language.
Keep Your Wits About You
While you’ll want to relax and have an amazing time on your trip, never lose sight of the fact that you’re in a foreign country. Traveling in Europe may require less vigilance than some parts of the Middle East, but be sure to use common sense wherever you go, especially when in crowded areas like markets and bus terminals. Watch your alcohol intake and avoid neighborhoods with high crime rates. Consider enrolling in an identity theft protection service before you leave on your trip. According to the LifeLock, their service can help with recovery if your personal information is ever stolen and used fraudulently.
When traveling internationally, remember at all times that you are a representative of your country. Use common sense, trust your gut and always be friendly. A smile and a pleasant demeanor can go a long way in offsetting a language barrier or a cultural faux pas. Also, don’t let one or two bad experiences sour you on an entire country. Just like America, there are good and not-so-good people everywhere. Use your intuition, think on your feet and you’ll find yourself connecting with the good ones.