The world is a wide and wonderful place, as anyone who has gazed at a map or encyclopedia recently can surmise. There are not only a plethora of places, but an even larger number of people and unique cultures that are unlike our own. The differences can be both banal and interesting, leading a traveler to wonder about just how large and strange our world is and if it’s worth the journey (hint: it is).
For example, in the USA, people eat french fries with ketchup at many eateries of their choice. In Holland, they eat “pomme frites” with mayonnaise as a side. Both think nothing of their respective names or toppings, other than those being the cultural norms of their societies. Yet when they encounter each other, worlds collide. On another note, in some areas of the world water is only available through a water well pump service and you must get it yourself. Most of us are probably used to turning on a kitchen tap to achieve the same function, and would have a hard time adjusting to the former.
In this article we’ll go over some of the best tips for traveling internationally and enjoying yourself to the fullest. While many places in the world may be very different than your home, you’ll probably find something or someone to appreciate everywhere. Because at the end of the day, no matter where you are, we’re all humans spinning around on this strange globe called Earth. Flying through space, occupying our own little worlds. To get to see some of it is both exciting and life-changing, so try to embrace it for all it’s worth. It may be one of the best tips for traveling internationally that you ever receive
Pick a Point and Go: Getting the Travel Bug
It’s been documented that approximately 40% of Americans take a vacation once a year, but many do not leave the country. In fact, the rate of passport ownership in the USA is only 42%, which is still less than half of the country. Regardless of where you live, many people are either not interested or not able to leave where they area and you should consider it a unique privilege to be able to explore the world. If you think of traveling in those terms, you will enjoy the adventure even when you’ve been searching for hours to find internet access. Consider it part of the mystique of the world.
Let it also be known that there is no “right” or “wrong” place to travel to. While there are areas of the world that do not cater to tourists in the way that we commonly think, they are still usually open to hardy travelers. The one exception to this rule would be countries or areas that are hostile to the country you are traveling from. Unfortunately, there is little you can do about these situations as an individual citizen and you are best to simply avoid them. Always check with your state department or equivalent travel guides for the most up to date information.
Precautionary Measures Before Traveling
Perhaps one of the best tips for traveling internationally is to be prepared for anything. Especially if you are traveling with children or the elderly, you need to be adaptable and flexible. In some areas, day care may be different than what you are used to in your home country and your little one might not enjoy the foods present. Medical or emergency care may be improved or reduced. You should research where you’re going accordingly in order to have the highest quality information available should you need it. It never hurts to have too much information, especially if that information can be practically used.
Having health insurance and a way to heal yourself if sick is a big part of planning to travel. If you are an elderly person or traveling with one, you should consider getting them a guide or agent who can tell them how to enroll in Medicare for precautionary sake. Being able to see a doctor or pay for an extended stay at a hospital during a trip can mean the difference between life and death in some situations. Certainly, it can help to erase a negative damper put on a trip when the person does recover and is well again.
One of the best tips for traveling internationally is to get a check-up before you go abroad. What seems like a “little cough” now could develop into something serious in a week’s time, and you also want to make sure that any medications you are taking have been refilled before you leave. Some areas of the world require you to have certain vaccinations before you enter the country, and they are usually cheaper to get before you arrive than after. Only a qualified and licensed physician will be able to adequately advise you on the health measures that you will need to take before traveling to a certain area, and it would be wise to consult one that you have a personal relationship with.
First Things First: Finding a Place to Stay
If you research the best tips for traveling internationally online or elsewhere, you may never see something that says “sleep is vitally important to your travels.” But it’s true, sleep is one of the most important factors in staying healthy, well, and able to enjoy the sights and sounds you’re seeing. Just like when you’re at home, depriving yourself of sleep abroad will lead to irritability, poor cognition, and perhaps confusion. That’s fine when you’re at home and know everything, but it could be downright dangerous in a new area. Therefore, finding a place to stay should be one of your main concerns.
Finding a bed to rest your head is easier than ever now, thanks to the internet and online listings. Sites like Airbnb, Hotwire, and VRBO list both commercial and residential properties for any traveler to stay in. Some may even be luxury properties, with added amenities like a medical spa or garden. There are enough listings to browse through for many days, so perhaps it’s best to simply pick one and be happy with it. Eventually, it will probably even start to feel like home.
Even if the place that you end of staying happens to be lackluster, or not meet the wild expectations you dreamed up in your head, don’t worry. The main benefit of traveling is that in a little while, you’ll either be back home or onto somewhere new. If you’re upset about the hotel or residence engaging in something like swimming pool cleaning because you want to take a dip, it may simply be an occasion where you ask when it will be done (or even if you can help). All things happen on their own time, no matter where you are in the world.
Getting Around Town: Cars, Trucks, and More
As you travel, you may become increasingly aware of not having a car or transportation network of your own. It can be great exercise to walk everywhere, but eventually, this may get old or too tiring, especially if you have little ones. Navigating the transportation networks of some areas can be a challenge, especially if the directions or maps are in other languages and you are unable to translate them. Luckily, thanks to the internet, there are usually a whole host of other options available to the modern traveler, including several ways to save money on transportation while traveling.
If you’d rather stay in a car or taxi, apps like Uber and Lyft have gone international so that someone local will drive you anyplace in their own personal car. This can not only be helpful from a comfort perspective, but you may actually get to know someone in the area (if they also speak your language) who can give you points to add to your own personal list of things to do and see. This might range anywhere from museums, to restaurants, to off the beaten path haunts. You’ll have all the comfort of a regular car, while being able to see your area from a regular perspective.
Sometimes you just want to do everything yourself and not rely on anyone else. That’s OK, and you are free to do so. If taking public transportation or ordering a taxi isn’t your style, you always have the option to get your own personal vehicle, such as a truck rental or something else. You’ll want to make sure that your driver’s license is valid for the area you’re in and that you understand the unique traffic and driving laws where you’re at. For example, in the UK they drive on the opposite side of the road from many other Western countries. Not knowing this could get you and your passengers in a lot of trouble. One of the best tips for traveling internationally is to know the laws applicable to your situation in any area you go to.
When the Stomach Rumbles: Food, Food, Food
Food is so important to everyday life, no matter where you go in the world or who you’re with. Perhaps one of the best tips for traveling internationally is to always seek out the tastiest and most wonderful meals no matter where you are. It not only allows you to see the local culture from a human perspective, but the air conditioning and nice atmosphere in many restaurants may be a welcome respite from whatever the local weather conditions are. Having the opportunity to chat with the local waitstaff or patrons may also enliven you to what you should be seeing in the area. After all, how could eating delicious food make a trip worse?
There are many types of cuisine around the world, and it’s probably not a bad idea to try them all. Some areas of the world are known for their local street food, in which vendors make and prepare delicious meals on the spot for any willing customer. There are also many types of fast food and casual food available for the traveler on the go, who may be so busy that day seeing the sights that they barely stop to take a bite to eat. It’s advised that you try everything that you’re comfortable with or not allergic to, because you might get some inspiration to bring back home.
Food also brings people together, and one of the best tips for traveling internationally is to bond over food. Since food crosses borderlines, religions, creeds, and colors, it is a universal bond that people can share. Everyone wants a full stomach and some friendly conversation. Now that you can connect with people online, you can also search for people that want to take a cooking class, share a drink at the local bar, or enjoy a coffee. Food, drink, and the environment of food will rarely ever steer you wrong. Just be sure to tip your waitstaff (if appropriate in your area) and never outstay your welcome.
The Benefits of Traveling Abroad Go Far Beyond the Journey
If you’ve never traveled abroad before, or never left your home country at all, you may be obsessed with searching for the best tips for traveling internationally for purely practical reasons. While there’s nothing wrong with trying to make sure that the village you’re staying in won’t be doing sewer line cleaning and you’ll have working toilets for your duration, this misses out on the true nature of travel. The truth is, some places in the world won’t’ ever have toilets that you’re used to. It’s not And that’s OK, it’s just part of the journey and experiencing other cultures.
Because the world is a vast place inhabited by many different types of people, there is so much to see and do that to try and fit it all in a lifetime is quite the feat. If you travel far and wide enough, you will experience a plethora of different cultures, ideas, and lifestyles that you could have scarcely imagined before. You might even feel like your life is starting to take on the vestiges of an encyclopedia, with a new part on every page. And in the margins will be little scribbles consisting of your own personalized best tips for traveling internationally.
While we all love the comforts of home, whether that be our favorite fast food restaurant or the smell of certain plants in the summertime, traveling abroad and seeing the world deepens our appreciation of other people’s version of that. No matter where you go, someone has a favorite restaurant, traditions, old haunts, and more….just like you. By meeting these people and interacting with them where they are, you may find yourself becoming a more complete human being and a “citizen of the world” as some would say. Perhaps, even if you think of yourself as an individual with a cold heart, you may be softened.
It turns out that one of the best tips for traveling internationally is to embrace the journey and become fully yourself. Because at the end of the day, there’s really nothing else that completes the trip quite like that. Consider it your life passport stamp, validated and perfect as a keepsake. Enjoy it!