Travelling abroad can be an extremely rewarding experience. No matter the reason for a trip, it will be an unforgettable experience but there are certainly some things you need to know before you depart.
How Much It Will Cost
Unfortunately Travelling is not free, even if you’ve found free accommodation, there is still airfare to cover along with things to do and food. Consider all of the costs before settling on a destination, there is nothing worse than running out of money before because you didn’t budget enough.
The Local Currency
Some countries have closed currencies, meaning travellers cannot exchange money until arrival. Airport exchange rates can often be beaten by exchange rates in town so change a little as soon as you arrive and the rest later, once you’ve found a stronger rate.
Beware cash machines! In Asia cash machines work backwards, they give you your cash first and return your card back to you last. I met so many travellers who had lost their card from taking their cash and walking away.
Did you know that some countries won’t accept dirty notes? You can find yourself in a bit of a bother if the only money you have in Cambodia is crumpled up and scribbled on. Even though it is legal tender, no one will accept it if the cashier cannot exchange it themselves! Make sure when changing money each note is crisp and in near new condition.
The Local Culture
It is a good idea to read up on the country you will be visiting. Check out travellers forums for the latest travellers’ advice and anecdotes to get a feel for local people and customs. Even something like the concept of personal space is very different from country to country.
Search online for social norms in your chosen country and try to stick to these, also check and see if there are any differences in the meanings of hand gestures. Thumbs up and the OK sign mean different things around the world and are very rude in some countries.
What Visa You Will Need
What visa will you need and how can you apply? If the visa requires sending your passport to the local embassy before hand, how far in advance does it need to be sent?
Also look when the visa begins. You don’t want to send you passport off too far in advance if the visa begins immediately, it may run out before you return home.
Different countries view different outfits as appropriate or inappropriate. If unsure, dress modestly. Organisations should be able to advise on what to wear if travelling to a more remote destination, off the beaten track. If you’re not sure, look on Facebook and Instagram for photos of previous and current travellers to see how other travellers have dressed in the country.
When exploring cities, unless you’re on the beach, hot pants and cleavage is often better avoided to not insult any locals and minimise hassle and unwanted attention from men. In some countries inappropriate clothing can land you a night in jail or arrested for indecent exposure.
The Local Health System
Accidents can happen anywhere; your body doesn’t know you are abroad, it can wear out and malfunction at any time. It is always best to check what the local healthcare system is like and what to expect if anything does happen. For example, will there be a clinic or large hospital nearby?
A bed in hospital, without any treatment can cost upwards of £100 each day. Avoid unexpected costs and travel with health insurance. Depending on the policy, insurance will cover the cost of medical bills paying the hospital directly or reimbursing the traveller on their return home.
Local Events And Festivals
Not every country follows the same calendar and national holidays. Search online for your destination’s list of national holidays. You don’t want to arrive in a country to find out that it is their New Year, nothing is open, or there is no public transport and taxis are charging triple prices.
It is worthwhile looking online at the country you are visiting calendar to be aware of all holidays that may affect your trip at all. Not just to be aware of any challenges they could cause but so that you can be excited looking forward to celebrating another cultures lifestyle and holidays.
Unfortunately, there is no avoiding scams, they exist in every country from London to Wellington. Specific scammers prey of tourists and their art will change from country to country but all with the common goal of stealing from foreigners. In Europe there are many scammers who prey on relaxed tourists with cash to burn, offering what appear to be free gifts, friendship bracelets, a rose for your partner or an act such as reading your fortune or shining your shoes. After they have tied the bracelet round your wrist or shined your shoes they then insist on being paid for their services, often a very high cost perhaps even more than you would pay at home.
Most common tourism scams involve someone distracting you while their friend has a rummage through your pockets without you noticing.
Ways to prevent scammers: Always beware when handing over large sums of cash and credit cards abroad. Even reputable chain stores and taxi drivers are sometimes blinded by large notes and will try and fiddle the change they give back. When locals stop you on the street, always beware of their intentions and where your valuables are.