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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.

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        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 February 21, 2019

          The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

          The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

          In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

          Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

          Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

          Conflicts are literally everywhere.

          Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

          Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

          Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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          Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

          Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

          Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

          The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

          Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

          Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

          How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

          Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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          Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

          Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

          How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

          Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

          Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

          Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

          How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

          Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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          Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

          Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

          How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

          Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

          Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

          Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

          How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

          Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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          Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

          Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

          How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

          Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

          Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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