Studying/Traveling Abroad? Priceless Tips (You’ll thank me later)

The following article has to do with basic, touristy type, international travel. Some of the tips may prove useful to adventure travelers and U.S. domestic destinations.

Before departure:

  1. Make several copies of the first two pages of your passport. Pack one in your luggage, put one in your wallet, leave one with next of kin, and one in your backpack/carry-on.

2. Get fit. As fit as you possibly can. If you’re sedentary, begin a walking program immediately.

3. Unless you are traveling to a very cold climate, purchase and pack particularly lightweight clothing. Easier to haul and quick to dry. Think layers.

4. Indispensable items: several packs of pre-moistened wipes (majorly multi-purpose), empty ziploc bags of varying sizes, laundry detergent pods (packed in a ziploc), broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses, small umbrella, motion sickness tablets/patches, prescription anxiety meds. You just have to trust me on that last one. The latter will also make you very popular among your fellow travelers.

5. Check with your airline to be sure, but you may be able to carry baggage up to 70 kilos at no additional cost. If so, plan to bring a standard sized suitcase, either empty or with snacks packed inside. Why? You will need the extra space for items purchased on your trip.

6. Regarding the aforementioned snacks: You and your traveling companions will have no problem consuming these. Such preparation and sharing builds a bond between traveling friends. Most tours do not include every meal. You will be on your own more often than you think, and sometimes the food provided will not meet your standards. Go to Costco and invest in cans of nuts, packs of jerky, sausage sticks, snack crackers, and protein bars. Your suitcase of munchies most certainly will be emptied in time to refill with exotic, enchanting souvenirs. No need to endure the foreign postal system for expensive shipments home.

7. Snacks are super helpful on the journey, but sufficient funds for day-to-day and unexpected expenses is essential. Take this advice seriously. The daily purchase of drinking water alone can add up to a couple hundred dollars in a two-week trip alone. And no, you won’t be drinking the local water. In fact, you’ll even need to buy water for brushing your teeth.

8. Read up. The Eyewitness Guides are thorough and image-drenched. Lonely Planet is a good standby, too. Everything you can learn about the place, culture, customs, pitfalls, and don’t misses before departure will serve as valuable touchstones along your journey.

9. At least two weeks before departure, deliberately practice mindfulness and awareness. Every day. Store up calm and peace of mind. You will need both.

10. Always keep in mind that other countries and cultures may not share your sensibilities. And that is ok. Look, listen, learn, and respect.

11. Research how the money system works at your destination(s). Bring along at least a small amount of your homeland’s currency, including coins. If nothing else they make for tokens of thanks to those who will assist you with things great and small. In some countries, particularly in street markets, you can pay with US dollars and other strong currencies.

12. Invest in a simple money belt. You won’t be sorry. And never carry your money, credit cards, and documents in your backpack or handbag. Around your neck or waist if you want to hang on to those.