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7 Things You Must Do Before Traveling to a Foreign Country

7 Things You Must Do Before Traveling to a Foreign Country

Traveling to a foreign country is one of the most exciting adventures you can experience. You’ll experience a completely different culture from your own, break out of your comfort zone, and learn more about who you are in two weeks than you would in six months.

After traveling around countries in Asia, Europe, and South America in the past 12 months, I’ve learned (often the hard way) what to do and what not to do if you want to maximize your travel experience.

With that said, if you’re about to travel to a foreign country, here are the 7 things you must do before your departure.

1. Visa & Passport Check

This is the most critical thing you must check off your list before you travel.

Certain countries will require you to have a Passport that will not expire for at least 6 months from the date you enter. If you’re a digital nomad without a set return date, it’s better to be safe and have a buffer time of at least two years.

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    You’ll also need to make sure you have the required visas for not just the countries you know you’re traveling to, but also potential countries you may be visiting. For example, Canadians don’t need a visa to visit any of the countries in South America, but it is required for Brazil.

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    VisaHQ is a great place to start checking for visa requirements, depending on your current citizenship.

    * One last tip: Make sure you scan and have a copy of all your important documents including your visa and passport files. This will help expedite the process of retrieving another hard copy if you end up losing your original.

    2. Pack appropriately

    This may depend on where you are traveling to, and what season you are traveling in. The general advice is: pack light.

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      Despite what your friends, family, and the media tells you, it’s most likely that you can buy nearly anything you need when you’re there. Carrying around a bulky luggage may be the biggest obstacle from being spontaneous during your travels.

      It may even be better to leave some extra room in your backpack, in order to bring back any tourist gifts to your friends or family.

      Here’s a great article to help you start packing light.

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      3. Call your bank

      Whether you want to use your credit card, debit card, or cash, you’ll be making a foreign transaction. Since your bank is on high alert for your security, it’s likely they will freeze your account if they see a transaction that is out of the ordinary – such as a $400 withdrawal in Argentina when you live in the United States!

      Make sure you call not only your local bank, but also your credit card company as well to notify them you’ll be making international transactions.

      In fact, if you plan to be living in a foreign country for a period of time, you can sign up with companies like Charles Schawb, where you can make unlimited ATM transactions without fees.

      4. Get informed

      A few months ago, when I tried to enter Colombia, I had to miss my flight because I needed a return ticket out of Colombia. I was already late, and by the time I purchased my return ticket, it was way too late.

      Now I know that there are certain airlines that allow you to cancel your flight within 24 hours of purchase. If you are ever asked for a return ticket, purchase a temporary ticket from any of the following airlines:

      • Delta
      • United
      • US Airways
      • JetBlue
      • Southwest
      • Spirit
      • Frontier
      • American

      You should also be informed about potential dangers or events occurring in the country, potential vaccinations you may need beforehand, and where your country’s embassy office is located.

      Use this website to learn more.

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      5. Learn conversation skills

      You don’t need to be fluent before you arrive, but you certainly should learn the basics in order to have a simple conversation with a local person.

      There are still places around the world, where a majority of the people don’t speak a word of English. Being able to understand and respond at the basic level will not only help you connect better with locals, but it will also prevent you from being taken advantage of.

      If you’re a beginner, it’s unlikely you can reach that level at the speed you want by learning yourself or through using a free mobile app.

      You can use Rype to work with a one-on-one language coach, who will help you learn faster and keep you accountable before or during your travels. I recommend checking out Rype Club, which will pair you up with a coach from the country you’re traveling to, and provide conversation lessons tailored to your needs. It also includes a 14-day free trial.

      rype club

        6. Get involved in the community!

        You can find almost any community online for the country and city you’re traveling to, even ones specific for expats.

        Look on Facebook Groups, Couchsurfing, or Meetup, to connect with current locals, finding accommodation, or simply asking for advice about the city.

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          7. Create an adventure list

          One of the best things about traveling is breaking out of your comfort zone, and trying out new experiences you’ve never tried before. Do some research before you travel and make a list of everything you want to try for the first time. This can be an event/festival, food you’ve never tried, or an activity that’s popular in the country you’re going to.

          Make the list as long as you’d like, but since you may not have time to do all of them, prioritize the top 5 or top 10 that you want to try in your limited time.

          Conclusion

          Once you’ve gone through these 7 must do’s, embrace yourself in the culture you’re traveling to and prepare yourself mentally.

          More importantly, open up your mind to prepare for the new adventure ahead of you.

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          Last Updated on April 11, 2019

          How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

          How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

          Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

          I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

          I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

          Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

          How Communication Skills Help Your Success

          Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

          Create a Positive Experience

          Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

          When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

          What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

          Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

          As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

          Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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          Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

          Help Leadership Skills

          It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

          Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

          As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

          Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

          If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

          Build Better Teams

          Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

          In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

          If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

          When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

          Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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          How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

          There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

          Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

          1. Listen

          Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

          Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

          People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

          Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

          Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

          2. Know Your Audience

          Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

          Here is a good way to think about it:

          Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

          You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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          3. Minimize

          I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

          He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

          Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

          State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

          The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

          4. Over Communicate

          So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

          What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

          Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

          Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

          Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

          There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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          5. Body Language

          The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

          When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

          In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

          When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

          Conclusion

          Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

          Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

          There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

          Now go communicate your way to success.

          More Resources About Effective Communication

          Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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