While we may not be traveling right now, there will come a time when we can get back on an airplane and travel to any part of the world we wish. Some of us are even planning, researching, and learning about our destinations. If you’re not, but you’re planning on traveling internationally, there are a few travel habits you should learn while you’ve got the time.
1. Learn basic words
It will serve you well to learn several basic words of the majority language(s) in the country you’re going to visit. It will serve you well to learn basic words of the language, as in “hello,” “goodbye,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome.” Even words like “bathroom,” “restaurant,” and “hotel” are important to learn.
One of the most important travel habits is to learn important phrases related to any special needs you might have. If you’re diabetic or have a food allergy, you should learn the phrases for this, as well as any foods you want to try or have to avoid.
2. Learn Common Places
Most of us don’t actually want to look like a tourist, looking at a map, looking around, looking lost. While there’s nothing wrong with trying to find your way around, there may be a few places you want to easily identify and be able to walk or drive to.
So before you travel, go on Google Maps and try to track down a few of the important places you’ll want to visit, like the local restaurants, banks, grocery stores, gas stations, and so on. This way, you know how close they are, and how to find them once you arrive.
3. Learn the Currency Rate
Of course, you want to know how much you’re spending at the various shops, restaurants, and hotels you’re visiting. So you want to start thinking about the currency exchange rate of the place you’re visiting.
Since this can fluctuate wildly, depending on both currencies’ value, you need to keep an eye on the rate of the country you’re traveling to. Get familiar with the exchange rate, study the historical rate and see if there are any major trends.
Also, start thinking in terms of that country’s money. Rather than doing the conversion in your head every time you make a purchase, just think about your budget in terms of that money. If you have $500 budgeted for the week’s dining, and you’re traveling to England, you’ll have roughly £400 (pounds). So start planning meals and restaurants thinking you have £400, not $500.
4. Splurge on Something
We all have our lives to live, and many of us live on certain restrictions. Maybe we eat fewer carbs, maybe we’re living on a budget, maybe we avoid needless spending. That means avoiding restaurants that serve pasta or pizza, or not going out to eat at all, or even not buying small treats.
But if you’re traveling internationally, this is the time to treat yourself. Eat pasta, eat at a fancy restaurant, take a cab or Lyft.
Of course, that means sticking to your current plan of reduced carbs, spending, or whatever you’re doing now. That way, when you finally do splurge on your big items, you’ll be ready. You won’t have to stick to that carb-free diet while you’re in Italy or France. You can enjoy the various local restaurants and cafés at your destination. You can buy that jacket or suit you spotted in the store window. This is one of the most fun travel habits and it shouldn’t make you feel guilty when you do splurge.
5. Learn the common customs
Did you know that tipping is not common in other parts of the world? When you go to a restaurant in the United States, it’s common to leave a 15 – 20% tip. For example, in Germany, it’s more common to just leave a few coins, since the servers there already earn a fair wage.
Wherever you go, there are customs and rules of etiquette for things like greeting, shaking hands, exchanging business cards, whether to call someone by their first name or Mr./Ms., and so on. Be sure to study up on the different social customs you’re likely to encounter.
6. Study Up on Your Destination
If you’re traveling somewhere new and exotic, this is the time to start watching videos and travel show episodes, as well as reading guidebooks and travel memoirs to get a feel of where you’re visiting.
Depending on where you’re going, travel experts like Rick Steves or Rudy Maxa may have already done an episode on it. Or Lonely Planet may have written a guidebook on it. So use this time to study up and get familiar with the culture. It may even help you plan a few places you want to visit.
7. Plan Things Ahead
There are two kinds of people in this world: People who plan, and people who like to wing it. Planners get a distinct satisfaction from creating a plan and then seeing it executed perfectly, because they thought of everything. The “wingers” like to live in the moment, get swept up in the wave, and just go where the day takes them. However, their trips tend to be a bit riskier than the planned ones, because things they hoped to do might be canceled or overbooked, or they cost more than pre-purchased tickets.
And although it’s an unpredictable time, you can still plan for “someday” as places will reopen again. So even if you’re a winger, consider doing a little planning for your next trip. Start researching some of the possibilities, even if you list 20 things you want to do, but only have time for 10. This way, you can still do whatever your mood dictates but you’ll have a little advance notice on what will be possible once you arrive.
8. Book Ahead
When it comes to your lodging, you can book your stay and be assured that you’ll have a room when you arrive. However, you can always change it if the need arises. Try to book your rooms as soon as possible. In some cases, you might even get a cheaper rate if you book now rather than waiting until a few weeks before you arrival date.
The same is true of your flight to your destination. Airline fares are always less expensive when you book further in advance, so make your plans for the fall and winter now while prices and wait times are lower.
What are some of the international travel habits you practice? Do you do anything special for overseas trips? Tell us about it on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream. You can also find us on our Instagram page at @TravelproIntl.
Photo credit: Hoai1987 (PXHere.com, Creative Commons 0)