Hi friends, this is Rachel from How Bout Some Cake. Jordan has invited me to take over her blog today and share some tips about international travel.
If you’ve never traveled abroad before, it can be a little intimidating. It usually involves a really long flight, jet lag, a foreign language, currency exchange, and unfamiliar foods. But, in my opinion, it’s all totally worth it for one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Here are five tips that will help you prepare for and get the most out of your first international trip.
I’m a huge fan of travel books (I wrote a whole post about them here) and I truly believe they are a tourist’s saving grace in an unfamiliar city. They offer everything from restaurant reviews and sample itineraries to history and cultural etiquette tips. Nobody wants to be a sophomoric traveler, and these guide books can really help in teaching you things you didn’t even know to ask. For example, how else would you know that gratuities in Spain should be a fraction of what you’d leave here in the States?!
I recommend making copies of all your important documents and keeping them with you all the time. When I say this, I’m including your passport, license, credit cards, insurance information, and any other documents you can’t live without. Of course, you have to keep your credit cards with you to use them, but everything else is better off back in the hotel safe. Pick-pocketing is rampant in many foreign countries, especially European ones, and you really don’t want some stranger running off with your passport. Similarly, if they do get away with your credit card, you want the card number and company phone number handy so you can call and report it immediately. Trust me, as someone who has been the victim of purse-snatching, these photocopies/scans can be invaluable.
First, find out their foreign transaction policies and second, apprise them of your trip. Your credit card companies may freeze your accounts when they see foreign spending, thinking it’s fraudulent activity. I’ve never had any trouble using my credit/debit cards abroad, but it is good to know how they’ll handle the currency conversion. Also devise a plan for cash- if you’re not comfortable carrying a lot when you travel, you will probably be able to withdraw from ATMs at your destination, but expect hefty fees with each transaction.
This is a good tip no matter where you’re going, but especially when you’re going somewhere vastly different than home. Bags do get lost, and you don’t want to be stranded without medications, a clean pair of undies, and anything else you would need within 24-48 hours of landing. Pharmacies work differently in other countries, so if you regularly take any medication (even something like Tylenol) you should bring it with you.
You never know what you’re going to encounter when traveling abroad. That’s the fun of it: encountering exotic and unfamiliar tastes, sights, and experiences. Don’t expect every experience to be good. You’re not going to like every dish you order, every hotel you stay in, every cultural experience. Conversely, you’ll probably enjoy some experiences more than you thought. View it as an adventure and keep a positive attitude to get the most enjoyment out of your trip. I think that, as Americans, we often think that our way is the best way, but I’d encourage any tourist to reserve judgment and appreciate every place for its own unique qualities.
Hope these tips help you when planning for your next big adventure!