International travel is always an exciting and interesting experience waiting to be had, but it can also give you the stress sweats with all of the things to remember. Here are ten tips to help you have the most positive experience while traveling abroad:

 

1. For international travel, arrive at the airport AT LEAST two hours early. This is the number one rule in international travel! There is nothing worse than the creeping fear that you will be caught in a long bag check line and pulled aside by the TSA enough times that you just barely miss an expensive international flight. That’s why you should always air on the side of caution and arrive early enough that you can feel relaxed, which makes the whole process a lot easier.

 

2. Pack light. When you have international traveling to do, such as catching connecting flights, switching airplanes, stumbling through public transportation, etc., it is best not to have four suitcases to lug around and/or get lost. It’s better to attempt to fit all of your clothes in just a carry on bag, if possible; this eliminates the possibility that your luggage will get left behind on a connecting flight or get lost, and it is simply much easier to travel without excess baggage.

 

3. Always carry enough cash in the local currency (euros, pesos, pounds, etc.) to pay for food, transportation, or any other unforeseen expenses. Otherwise, make sure you remember to contact your credit card company about your international travel, so your card will not be declined.

 

4. Learn the language. It’s unrealistic to expect to learn an entire language before traveling to another country, but it is polite (and smart) to learn the most basic and essential phrases in the native language. Although most of Western society will most likely be familiar with some English, it is unfair to assume that everyone will speak to you in English; at least make an effort to speak to the locals in their own language.

 

5. Familiarize yourself with cultural practices. Every culture has a different set of rules, a code of conduct, that native people know to follow. Read up on the local practices of the place that you’re visiting before you arrive so you know how to act to blend in, and to make sure that you don’t offend anybody. You know what they say: when in Rome, do as the Romans do!

 

6. Dress to blend in. The rules for what is acceptable to wear in the United States do not necessarily apply everywhere in the world. For example, in France, it is a faux pas to wear short shorts during the day, and it is the norm to wear more muted colors and more relaxed styles. As a guest in a foreign country, it is best if you remain inconspicuous and refrain from drawing attention to yourself, for your own safety, as tourists are often targeted by pickpockets or otherwise taken advantage of. It is also a courtesy to respect the customs of the culture you are visiting to dress in more familiar fashion.

 

7. Find a guide or travel in groups. If you are in an unfamiliar place, whether at home or abroad, it is never a good idea to travel alone, especially at night. It is always best to travel in groups; there is safety in numbers, and besides, it’s fun to share experiences with other people. The ideal situation when traveling abroad is to find a guide of sorts who is familiar with the area to help you get around and show you the ropes, but this is not always possible.

 

8. Do your research. What is the area you are traveling to known for? What are the main attractions, what is the history, and what are the traditions associated with this place? These are all good things to know before traveling abroad. Knowing the history and background will help you familiarize yourself with the place and understand the flow of things.

 

9. Plan ahead. What are you going to do with your time abroad? What are the main things that you do not want to leave without seeing or experiencing? Make a list beforehand of these things so that you can make sure that you get around to doing them. Map out each area, so you don’t get lost. Organizing your transportation, food, etc. is a good idea, too.

 

10. Don’t hold back — try new things. Being abroad in an unfamiliar place and an entirely different culture can be overwhelming, but don’t let this stop you from experiencing the world around you! Say yes to trying new things, and be open to the new experiences that will find you when you least expect it.

 

 

Are these tips helpful for traveling abroad? What do you do to prepare for international travel? Post a response in the comments below or shoot me a tweet @JenksUOhMeASoda