Traveling abroad for the first time can be exciting and scary. Whether you’re going for an extended stay, a semester abroad, or just a few weeks vacation, knowing a few tips before you fly can help ease some of the travel anxiety and make your experience worth every penny. that you paid. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you take to the skies.
One of the most overlooked aspects of travel planning is exercise. If you are going from place to place (probably on foot), it will take time for your body to get used to the extra effort. If you don’t exercise regularly, don’t panic. You don’t have to be a marathon runner, but it’s a good idea to take long walks to get used to standing most of the day.
Also, check the availability of laundry facilities at the hotels where you will be staying and their prices. It’s a good idea to bring a travel-size laundry detergent bottle so you can hand wash a few clothes if you need to. It’s not glamorous to rub dirty pants under the shower head, but neither is it.
What and how much to pack is an obvious dilemma on any trip, especially with the strict baggage rules imposed by airlines. You want to have enough clothes to last, but not so much that you can’t put away the treasures you buy when you come back. A good place to start is to think about what you will be doing on the trip. Will you be spending long days walking the ruins of Pompeii, or will you see your sights from a tourist bus? Will you have most of your meals at stalls on the road, or will you dine at upscale restaurants? Your main activities will dominate the clothes you will need to bring.
Choose practical pieces that can be mixed and matched with multiple outfits, and limit the number of shoes you bring. They take up a lot of space and increase your weight limit. Pack clothes without a lot of words or logos. This type of clothing makes you an obvious tourist and makes you more vulnerable to pickpockets. I recommend bringing as many pairs of underwear as possible; it is better to wear a dirty shirt than to wear dirty underwear.
If you can, it’s a good idea to learn a few basic phrases before you go on your trip. Just as we expect people to speak English in America, people from other nations expect you to communicate in their language, or at least you try. Simple sentences like “please” and “thank you” are important to know. Other words like “bathroom” can also be an asset. Depending on how much time you spend, you will start to familiarize yourself with the local vernacular and it will become more natural.
I’m a seasoned airplane traveler, but a full day of flying made me turn green in the end. Prepare for the long time sitting with a book or some music. You can also buy motion sickness pills if you are worried about feeling sick. While you might be hungry after an exhausting day of travel, it may be best to refrain from eating on board and grab something from one of the airport restaurants instead.
Eating in other countries can be a good or a bad experience. Most often, the menu will be written in the native language, and the food may not sound like what you would like to eat at all. Be adventurous. If you find something that sounds good, it probably will. However, don’t get stuck in a rut. If you find a food or a place that you like, that’s great! But get out there and keep finding new places and new foods. On my first trip to Italy, I learned that the best restaurants are furthest from the tourist areas of the city. In Venice, we ate in a restaurant right by the canal. The food was expensive and not that good. Later that night we drove deep into town and found a little cafe for dinner. It was cheaper and there was good food.
If you have a set route, research the sights and places you will be visiting. A bust of a man will make more sense if you know who it is and why it was created. Researching the area can also give you ideas on the best places to grab a bite to eat or get a good deal on a particular item you might like to purchase.
With a little preparation, a trip abroad can be a life-changing experience. Hope these tips help you have the best possible experience!
Image credit Charles Dyer
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