As I have noticed in the past, Americans aren’t always the best international travelers. My friends and I will joke about that on our own vacations! I have even done stuff and then immediately smacked my own head and said… “Wow, you were just THAT GUY”. So how do you avoid being “that guy”? Here are a few helpful hints to help you along your way.
- Research your destination. Google is an amazing search engine. You can find customs relating to food, to tipping, to greetings, to personal space issues in certain areas. This is the easiest and fastest way to not offend people in the countries you will visit.
- Find out what currency your destination uses. I always use credit cards while I’m traveling because I like the protection I get on purchases, but sometimes they are not an option. Some of the best places to eat are little stands or cafés on the side of the road. You will need cash there. Also necessary for tipping drivers and waiters at restaurants.
- Another important thing to note is the plug situation. What currency does the country use and what shape are the plugs for their electronics? You can get converters at any electronic store.
- Learn a few key terms. Remember that you are a guest in their country and not everyone speaks English. Unless you are a student studying the language of the places you will visit, you don’t need to know the whole language. If they don’t speak English and you don’t know the words for what you want… improvise!
- One of my favorite stories comes from Danny. He was inPragueand went to a McDonalds for a fish sandwich. The girl behind the counter didn’t speak English. So Danny, being the clever fellow he is, got out a paper and pen and drew two slices of bread with a fish in the middle. He got his fish sandwich and I got my favorite travel story!
- Keep copies of your credit cards, passports and insurance cards in a secure location. Also keep some back up cash in case of an emergency.
- If you are traveling anywhere besidesEurope, find out where the consulates are. Register with them so they know where you are and can get a hold of you in case of emergency. It’s better to be safe than stranded.
Just being conscious and aware of your surroundings will make you a better traveler and will be appreciated by those you encounter!