It’s all good and well traveling within the United States (there’s oh so much stuff to see and do), but it doesn’t quite compare to a journey overseas. When you’re traveling within your own country, it is fun, sure, but it’s rarely outlandishly different from what you already know.
The food and general culture are the same, for example. When you’re in another country, you’ll find some similarities, but many differences also. While this is exciting, it can also be a little stressful.
Below, we’ve put together some tried and tested tips that’ll help you to have a smooth traveling experience when you land overseas.
Do Your Research
There is a lot of enjoyment and adventure to be had if you just land in a place, and see what happens. But really, this is something that’s best saved for when you’re something of a pro-traveler. If you’ve only been overseas a couple of times (and especially if you’ve never been abroad before), then spend some time researching your destination.
It’s easy to have an idea of what a place is like just from your impressions, but these rarely stand up to scrutiny. So don’t leave things to chance — do your research, and make sure you’re going to a country that’s relatively straightforward to enjoy.
The Right Time of Year
Something else to keep in mind: many destinations are only great to visit at certain points of the year. In fact, most places fall into the category.
You might dream of visiting, say, Paris, but if you’re planning on making your trip during the winter, then you might find that it’s not as magical as you thought. It is cheaper to visit during the low season, but not overly so — if you’re going to go through the process of planning a trip overseas, you may as well go during the time of year when it’s at its peak. The destination will be set up for tourists then, which will make it easier to enjoy.
You might be all focused on having a good time when you’re traveling, but it’s worth keeping in mind that there are a few logistical matters that you’ll need to take care of, too. For example, your visas. These can be a little problematic, especially if you’re hopping from one country to the next when you’re on your travels.
To smoothen the process, you can look at getting a flight itinerary for visa. These will show the officer that you’re planning on leaving the country — things can get complicated/time-consuming if you can’t show that you intend to leave.
Another practical matter you’ll want to take care of is the money situation, such as: how you’ll carry it. If you’re going to a modern country, it’s best to get a travel cash card — you’ll get a great exchange rate, and can top up the money as and when it’s needed. It certainly beats carrying all of your cash with you.
Start in a Tourist-Friendly Zone
It’s a big old world out there, but most people only visit a small fraction of it. And the fraction that they visit is often the same as every other person. The idea of a tourist-friendly city sometimes gets a snobbish reaction from travelers, but it’s misguided — a city that gets a lot of visitors will always be more fun (by most people’s standards) than a city that receives none.
It’s best to start in a zone that’s set up for visitors, especially if you’re going to an area that’s radically different from home. It’ll help you to ease into the country. Once you’ve got the basics figured out, you can jump out and explore other areas.
If you start your trip somewhere off the beaten path, you may begin lost and never really find the way.
Learn a Few Words
People from English-speaking countries don’t always make an effort to learn a different language. It’s understandable, to a degree — they rarely find themselves in an environment where nobody speaks English. However, there are advantages to looking up a few key words and phrases in the language that’s spoken in the place you’re visiting.
For one, it might be useful, especially if you need to, say, ask where the hospital is. The second is more general: you’ll be treated better. Places open up a little more to you if you’ve made an effort. It’s not about being fluent — it’s about showing respect for the locals.
Don’t Over Do It
Some people try to jam as much into their trip as possible, but this isn’t always the best approach. It’s much better to see a few places comfortably, then to continually rush from one destination to the next.
The more stops you add, the more stressed you’ll be. Instead, focus on a couple of areas that you’d like to see, and save the rest for the next trip!