Travelling abroad always offers an opportunity to gain new insights into unique cultures and lifestyles different than our own. Whether you’re embarking on a two week adventure to Asia for a community service trip or moving to Peru for a year to study abroad, traveling in another country can be an exhilarating experience. To maximize your travel experience and come home completely fulfilled, without feeling like there’s something you missed, there are some universal guidelines to be aware of. Knowing these basics of international travel will provide you with a more enjoyable journey and a deeper appreciation of the country your visiting. THE BASICS 1. Learn the local laws: Once you enter a country, you are subjected to its laws. Therefore, for your own safety, it’s important to learn the local laws before visiting. Some things we consider common practices in the USA are illegal in other places and may even land you in jail! 2. Be Mindful Of The Culture: Always be respectful of the culture you’re in even if that way of life is unnatural to you. Be aware of traditions and customs so you can pack appropriate clothes or learn basic skills like how to use chopsticks. 3. Learn the native language: Pick up enough phrases to help you when you get inevitably lost, or need basic assistance. If you’re staying for awhile, then immerse yourself in the language fully to be able to spark interesting conversations and become more of a member of the community. 4. Take precautions for the worst: Leave copies of your passport and address/contact information of where you are going with someone at home. Also, make a few extra copies to keep in your suitcase during your trip in case the original gets lost or stolen. Furthermore, become fully acquainted with the whereabouts of the U.S. embassy in the country you are visiting. 5. Know what may be hazardous to you: If you are visiting a country that serves mainly spicy food and you know that won’t sit well with your stomach, pack appropriate medicines and supplements. If you are visiting a country that is prone to specific bugs or diseases such as malaria, give yourself time to receive the necessary vaccinations and shots. 6. Watch the news: Be fully up to date with the happenings in the city you are visiting as well as neighboring countries. Don’t be ignorant of potential dangers. 7. Be smart with your belongings: Always firmly hold your belongings in a way that they can’t be snatched from you and don’t dress extravagantly in expensive jewelry or accessories. Travelling abroad may turn you into a photographer but be cautious of flaunting your digital SLR camera. It’s important not to make yourself seem vulnerable to robbery and theft. 8. Travel Regionally: If your time allows it, take advantage of your location to travel regionally. A ticket to Rome may cost you 200 euros, but do you know how much it costs to get from the U.S. to Rome? Quite a bit more! 9. Keep in touch just enough: Though you shouldn’t lose touch with your family and friends at home, don’t let them inhibit your experience. Consider starting a blog or sending a postcard from your travels so your family and friends can be kept up to date on your adventures. Be in contact enough so you don’t lose touch with what’s happening at home but also focus on your adventure. 10. Experience the culture: This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Ride the elephant in Thailand, drink the snake blood in Vietnam, go sand duning in Dubai and brave through the Singaporean fish pedicure. These will give you a deeper appreciation of the country you’re visiting! By following these basics, and working with a certified travel professional such as Travel N Relax who can provide you with the most current information you need to know, you can be assured that your next international trip will be fulfilling, safe and enjoyable!