From making sure your passport is up to date, to learning important phrases in the local language, there are some things you probably already know about traveling internationally. This post isn’t to remind you of those things. I’m here to give first-time international travelers useful advice to make the most out of your trip.
1. Learn the local currency
Learning the exchange rates will save you money and stress. There are many useful apps for smartphone users. I have heard good things about the XE Currency app, which is available for free in the Apple app store. The best part about this app is that it automatically saves the latest rates so you don’t always need wifi in order for it to work.
This app would’ve come in handy when I studied abroad in Rome last year and didn’t always have internet access. Meanwhile, my roommate was studying in Costa Rica and said making more of an effort to learn the local currency could’ve saved her money. She ended up paying $50 for a taxi that would’ve cost her $20 in the local currency, had she exchanged money beforehand. Make sure to exchange some money prior to arriving at your destination.
2. Accept that there will be differences and embrace them
There are times you might find yourself comparing other cultures to your own, even questioning why certain differences exist. This thought-process will come back to bite you because it ruins the entire purpose of traveling. Rather than complaining about a place lacking certain conveniences, dive into what that culture has to offer and be grateful that you get to go home to those things eventually.
3. When in doubt, wander and get lost
Taking a double decker tour bus for a few hours basically makes you a local, right? Wrong. There’s a lot more to learn than you think. Although those tour buses give useful information and a nice place to rest your tiresome feet, there’s a lot more to see and do than meets the eye.
Check out some of my favorite travel websites for useful travel guides and lists of things to see: Lonely Planet and Condé Nast Traveler. Also, check out a few of my favorite travel bloggers who give great recommendations: yTravelBlog and Alex in Wanderland.
4. Appreciate the opportunity and remind others to when they aren’t
This one may seem obvious. But I too had read it somewhere before and not listened. In 2006, my family and I went to Europe. I remember being at The Louvre in Paris and sitting down the entire time. I was too tired to walk. I was however 9 at the time and in no way interested in museums. Looking back on it now, I’m slightly disappointed my parents didn’t force me to act like I cared. But then again, they probably knew I wouldn’t. I wish more than ever now that I had another chance to look at the Mona Lisa.
If you are traveling with someone who’s acting like 9-year-old me, tell ‘em to knock it off! You’ll be home before you know it, so take advantage of your time abroad.
5. Immerse yourself in the culture, but respect certain boundaries
This is the most valuable tip I can give any traveler. It speaks for itself. Soak in every site you see and every person you meet, but remember you ARE a tourist. When I visited Thailand this December, I saw a group of girls taking what looked like future Instagram pictures. I’m sure you know which pictures I’m taking about. The against-the-wall, mouth puckering yet candid ones with a caption that reads something along the lines of “Having the Thai(m) of my life”. Did I mention these pictures were taken at the sacred Buddhist temple?! Now, I’m not saying don’t take pictures! By all means take pictures, but consider when and where they’re appropriate.
I hope you find these 5 tips for international travelers helpful. I would love to hear where you’re traveling to in the comments section below. If you’ve been to another country before, what’s a piece of advice you’d give a first-time international traveler?
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