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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.

          More by this author

          Sean Kim

          Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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          Last Updated on January 24, 2021

          How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

          How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

          Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

          For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

          But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

          It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

          And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

          The Importance of Saying No

          When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

          In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

          Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

          Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

          Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

          “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

          When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

          How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

          It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

          From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

          We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

          And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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          At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

          The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

          How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

          Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

          But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

          3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

          1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

          Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

          If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

          2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

          When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

          Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

          3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

          When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

          6 Ways to Start Saying No

          Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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          1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

          One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

          Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

          2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

          Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

          Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

          3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

          Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

          Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

          You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

          4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

          Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

          Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

          5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

          When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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          How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

            Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

            Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

            6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

            If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

            Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

            Final Thoughts

            Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

            Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

            Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

            More Tips on How to Say No

            Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
            [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
            [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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