When you daydream about taking a vacation, you probably envision yourself leaving work, heading to the airport, and flying away from all the drama and negativity you deal with on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, travelling to another country isn’t exactly that easy. There’s a lot of planning involved in taking a successful trip to exotic and foreign lands.
But that doesn’t mean it won’t be worth it in the end. In fact, the more prepared you are before your plane ever leaves the ground, the more you’ll enjoy your vacation from reality.
Just make sure to take these factors into consideration before you go:
If you remember to bring anything on your trip, make sure it’s your documentation. This goes beyond your passport and plane ticket. Make sure you have your license, identification for your children, and any receipts you’ll need for proof of purchase (such as the hotel you’ll be staying at).
Don’t just remember to bring these items, though. Take special care to ensure they are all up to date. It’s a big enough pain when you get pulled over in your hometown and don’t have an updated copy of your license or registration; if a similar situation arises overseas, it could ruin your entire vacation.
Considering you’ll be thousands of miles away from your family minivan, you’re going to need to figure out how to get around once you land at your destination.
When renting a car, be sure to take into consideration the cost of gas and insurance in addition to the baseline rental fees. Keep in mind logistics you don’t really think about when driving at home, like the rules of the road. And if you don’t know how to drive a stick shift, don’t fake it. Please.
Your other option, of course, is to rely on public transportation. This may be easier than renting a car – especially if you don’t exactly know where you’re going. But it’s also likely to be much more expensive. Do some cost-benefit analysis before you embark on your journey, and figure out what the best route to take – literally and metaphorically.
Language and Cultural Barriers
If you’re heading to a country in which the language spoken by the majority of the population is not your native tongue, you need to do some work before you take off. Bring with you a dictionary, a physical map, and even pictures of specific locations you want to visit. Don’t rely on your phone to do all the work for you (we’ll get to that later).
Chances are you know some key phrases to help get you out of a jam. If you think you’re going to rely on a local citizen to help you out at some point, make sure you know what’s culturally and socially acceptable in the country you’re visiting. Certain innocuous hand gestures, for example, have totally different meanings in other countries. Don’t make a mistake that will end up hurting someone’s feelings – or worse.
Exchange Rate and Economy
The almighty dollar isn’t just accepted no matter where you are. In most other countries, you’ll have to do some exchanging at the border in order to make your money worth anything while on vacation. When doing so, make sure you know how much your hard-earned cash is worth.
Not only should you understand how much it’s worth, but you should also pay attention to how far it’ll go. For example, a single US dollar is worth over 100 yen in Japan. Transferring a few hundred bucks into yen might make you feel like a millionaire, but the reality is many commodities, such as clothing, are much more expensive in the Far East than in the Western world. Be careful with your money while on vacation – you’ll need it in an emergency.
Most people know they’ll have to purchase a specific outlet adapter for their electronics when visiting a foreign country. But most of us likely haven’t taken the time to check out our host country’s policies on Internet and cellphone usage.
There might not be anything to worry about – but you’re better safe than sorry. Many countries have stringent regulations in place regarding what sites you can visit and what programs or services you can use. While there are ways around such regulations, you’re better off just following the laws of the country you’re in, and saving the Netflix for a rainy day when you’re back on your home turf.
Featured photo credit: Tourist / Ian T. McFarland / Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com