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7 Things You Must Do Before You Travel To A Foreign Country

7 Things You Must Do Before You Travel To A Foreign Country

Traveling to a foreign country is one of the most exciting adventures you can have. 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 normally 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 and 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 potential countries you may be visiting. For example, Canadians don’t need a visa to visit any of the countries in South America except for Brazil.

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

    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 media tells you, it’s most likely that you can buy nearly anything you need when you’re there. Carrying around 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 souvenirs or gifts to your friends or family.

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

      3. Call Your Bank

      Whether you want to use your credit card, debit card, or cash, you’ll be making foreign transactions. 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 withdrawl in Argentina when you live in the United States!

      Make sure you call not only your local bank but 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 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 occuring in the country, potential vaccinations you may need beforehand, and where your country’s embassy office is located.

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      Use this website to learn more.

      5. Learn the Language

      You don’t need to be fluent before you arrive, but you certainly should spend some time learning a new language or re-learn a language in order to have conversations with the locals.

      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 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. However, you can use websites like Rype to work one-on-one with a private language coach. It’s built specifically for busy individuals, allowing you to fit language learning into your hectic lifestyle by offering unlimited one-on-one language lessons (only in Spanish for now) at anytime of the day, any day of the week. Learn more here and give the free trial a go.

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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 specifically for expats.

        Look on Facebook Groups, Couchsurfing, or Meetup and connect with current locals, find accommodations, or simply ask for advice about your destination.

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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.

          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 or 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 prioritize the top 5 or top 10 that you want to try in your limited time.

          Once you’ve gone through these 7 must-do’s, embrace the culture of the place 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.

          How to Learn Anything Fast? Take These 5 Powerful Steps 7 Best Language Learning Apps and Websites What’s the Easiest Language to Learn for English Speakers? 7 Hardest Languages to Learn For English Speakers 7 Best Languages to Learn to Stay Competitive

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          Last Updated on July 8, 2020

          18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

          18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

          The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

          1. Understand Yourself Better

          Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

          Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

          2. Keep Track of Small Changes

          I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

          Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

          3. Become Aware of What Matters

          As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

          You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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          4. Boost Creativity

          The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

          When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

          You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

          5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

          A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

          Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

          6. Process Life Experiences

          When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

          Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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          7. Stress Relief

          In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

          Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

          8. Provide Direction

          Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

          One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

          9. Solve Problems

          Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

          Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

          When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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          10. Find Relief From Fighting

          Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

          Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

          11. Find Meaning in Life

          Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

          12. Allow Yourself to Focus

          Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

          13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

          When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

          14. Let the Past Go

          I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

          15. Allow Freedom

          Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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          16. Enhance Your Career

          Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

          Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

          17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

          All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

          18. Catalog Your Life for Others

          No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

          We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

          Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

          Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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