Luckily, I have been able to take quite a few trips abroad. Traveling can cause some stress for all of us, but it really does not have to. Travel should be amazing, fun, and always the trip of your life. You have spent all of this money to go experience a new place, new culture, or to revisit somewhere that you love. If you are in the stages of planning or packing, hopefully my advice from real life experience will come in handy!
Know before you go
Do some research, I cannot stress this part enough. Not only can it save you some money along the road, but it can also save you some embarrassment in whatever country you are traveling to. The last thing you want to do is offend anyone because you did not take the time to research their customs and morals. Attempt to learn some of the language. While your accent and pronunciation will not be perfect, I think being able to say “yes”, “no”, “thank you”, and other basic phrases will show your respect to their nation.
Manners matter, just ask your grandmother
Manners are not something that is stressed in this country sadly. I love etiquette, and my grandmother enforced those on me like you would not believe! Honestly, matters matter at home just as much as traveling. I think it is important to be respectable to any person you come in contact with.
For my parents out there, give your kids a history lesson! This will help the younger generation know why they are visiting a place. Who knows, you could find out some information that you did not know.
Plan ahead, this will save you time and money
Figure out your transportation options before you get there. There is nothing worse that going somewhere and not knowing how to get back. Most major places have some sort of public transportation in place which is a huge help. Companies like Uber, it makes it much easier to get around during your vacation. Learn about ticket prices, and most places have an option for tourists, or a re-loadable card that can easily be done through your laptop or phone. I also usually carry a train map in my bag with me just in case we get lost.
Think about what you actually plan on purchasing. I knew that I was going to buy quite a few things while I was in Europe, and somehow pulled it off with only an international carry on and a backpack. I also suggest packing a lightweight shopping tote so that you can back some extra items you cannot fit into your backpack or suitcase. It also acts as a great bag when you are out shopping as most places make you pay for a shopping bag now!
Stay connected, but leave some surprises
Look into an international phone plan. I know that we should be focusing on our trip and our experience without worrying about our phones. There are definitely a few reasons that we may need a phone overseas though. One of the biggest reasons we used ours in Europe last summer was for directions, easy translations, and obviously to take photos. It also is a great way to ensure your safety in case the worst happens.
Don’t book every day up! Leave some days open to explore the area you are going to, be a local for one day, it won’t kill you. Seeing different sides to new places is a great memory to have that a lot of people don’t get to experience. Go to the museums, go to the monuments, but be sure to explore.
Use Airbnb, seriously. I know that this is a “modern” kind of hotel deal which is not comfortable for everyone. It is just a great way to feel like a local in a place, and usually way cheaper than any hotel you are looking at. You can rent anything from a room to an entire home or apartment depending on your needs. If you have not looked at the site before, I highly suggest just giving it a look.