10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Traveling Abroad
1. Learn Language Survival Skills!
It is okay if you’re not multilingual(most of us are not), but learning some basic phrases of the country you're traveling to can be useful and fun! Learn the basics; things such as "Hello. Goodbye. Thank you. Please. Sorry." can be really useful. Other phrases like 'want a drink? You're Beautiful! and Crazy!' can lead to lots of fun!
2. Figuring out the transportation system for the host country
Research what you can about the public transportation, but be aware there will probably always be a time when you’ll take the wrong bus, or be overcharged for a taxi ride. Avoid the taxis inside the airport. The taxi stand is always your best for an honest fair. Not understanding the best way to get around is part of the travel learning experience!
3. Have snacks handy
Avoid getting frustrated with friends who can’t choose a restaurant or leaving a museum early because you’re hungry. Keep snacks with you to ease hunger pains and enjoy your time between delicious meals.
4. It’s okay to get lost. We encourage it!
It will happen. Embrace it. By simply wondering a city you will discover hidden gems!
5. Purchasing a data plan for a smartphone
If you feel the need to be connected for work or some other purpose for your travels (or if you cannot function without Google maps like me) consider purchasing a data plan for your smart phone. However, don't forget that disconnecting while traveling is important so only use your phone if you truly need it.
Personal space can mean different things in different countries. The Chinese philosophy when it comes to personal space is much different than the Italian. Be aware of the local practices. Get used to smoking. Like it or not this is a reality in most countries and you're going to have to be somewhat tolerant.
7. Always bring a jacket
No matter where you go on your travels, at some point you’ll want a jacket. The airplane may be cold or you’ll need something to cover your shoulders so you can go into holy sites like churches or temples.
8. Have answers ready for the border patrol (esp. back into the united states)
Get ready to play the most intense game of 21 Questions you've ever played as you head back into the United States or Canada after an international trip. Have a few questions ready to answer like: when did you leave your original destination, how long was your stay, and where did you stay in these different cities.
9. Keep a blog or journal
This will be one of the most memorable experiences of your life, but memory is often fleeting. Write down your travel experiences in a journal or blog so you go back and revisit them throughout the years.
10. Pack Ziploc bags
Ziploc bags are great for your travels for wet clothes, sorting clean and dirty clothes, preventing toiletries from exploding all over your suitcase, and hundreds of other uses!