The New Year is coming, and you probably have a list of resolutions ready, and if travel more isn’t one of them, then you should really rethink your decisions. The world is truly an enormous place and there is so many things to see, cultures to examine, and cuisines to taste – and if you plan on sitting at home and staring at some cat pictures online, then you really are missing out. In the end, it doesn’t matter if you plan on going somewhere exotic where you’ll be able to work on your tan, or you plan on visiting all the European cultural heritage sites – whatever the reason, traveling is always a good decision. But travel is not always easy, and it has its own unique requirements and mishaps which can strike at any time. We have made a list of things that will catch most travelers by surprise, as no one is really prepared for them unless they experience some of them in person.
1. Not Doing Research
You would be surprised how many times people simply travel somewhere without having the basic idea of how things function over there. The most obvious places are those where cultures differ quite heavily from the Western culture, and instead of being prepared for it, some Westerners are only shocked. India, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe are places where many people go without knowing what to expect, and instead of responding with natural curiosity, most of them develop negative opinions and are generally unhappy. On the other hand, people there are nothing but a pleasant, hospitable crowd, only with noticeably different culture and set of rules. In some Muslim countries, women should dress carefully, in Japan, you should refrain from asking personal questions, and in Europe, people kiss as much as three times as a way of saying “nice to see you”. This may be strange for you, buy if you know what to expect, it can be an integral part of your overall experience, and the more you get to know a different culture, the more you’ll learn about your own, too.
2. Not Knowing How to Pack
When people think about traveling, most of us don’t even speak about all the necessary steps required to actually get there. Packing is one of those things we all hate, no one can tell you what exactly you should pack and what you should not pack, since this is extremely personal, but it can still create a lot of trouble. Sometimes people tend to bring too much of everything, and this may lead to being constantly tied to your stuff. Another thing that people usually forget is that traveling is about exploring everything in person. This is not the time to bring your laptop so that you can watch your downloaded shows, or books so that you can read – instead, explore everything you can and use every second there. Pack as lightly as possible, but always bring a set of clothes for some extreme temperature changes. A suitcase per person should be more than enough, but don’t forget to check if you can actually bring everything you’ve planned on taking with you, especially considering some medications, as rules differ across countries.
3. Not Having a Backup Plan
No one likes to think about the worst case scenario, but sometimes Murphy’s Law states that everything that can go wrong will actually go wrong. Before visiting a foreign country, you should create a plan for everything. Check the number of the local police station that you can call in case of an emergency, contact your embassy and tell them that you will be staying there so that they might help you in case if something unexpected happens (natural disasters, political unrests, in case you are robbed etc). Check to see if there are any international banks where you’ll be able to receive money from your family and friends in case you lose all your money. If you plan on renting a car, make sure to buy insurance, as car accidents can happen in an instance and you will be left with an expensive repair bill in a foreign country. Know where you should store your important documents (personal ID, passport, visas) or carry them with yourself at all times.
4. Not Being Prepared for a Medical Emergency
Another important thing, especially when in a foreign country, is to expect some minor medical problems. This does not have to be something big, but usually, people develop stomach problems due to the change in climate, food, or from drinking tap water. Before going abroad, check with your doctor if there are any precautions that you should take, and see if you are properly immunized for some of the illnesses that are present there. Bring some medications that you can use in case you have stomach problems such as diarrhea or vomiting in case of poisoning. But, like we have mentioned before, make sure to check if you can bring the medications with you as some of them might be forbidden there. Most of travel-related diseases are not serious, it is just your body reacting to strange food and water, to which all the locals are already accustomed to. Some people even travel abroad just because they want to obtain a medical treatment in other countries which is unavailable in their home country, or because the prices can be much lower (especially dental procedures).
5. Not Having Fun
Whether you travel alone, with your family or with your friends, remember that travel is about having fun and learning something new. Those two are not only essential for calling a trip successful, but are also important at broadening your horizons and making sure that you truly become a citizen of the world. Sometimes, traveling can be quite stressful, and there are many things that can happen and that you should not let ruin your mood. Focus on the good things, take care of everyone around you, and as long as everyone is safe and sound, everything is good. Drink, eat, visit everything, party, do not forget to talk to the local people, ask them about everything and you’ll see how truly wonderful people can be. There are more than enough testimonials where people claim they have never truly experienced hospitality until they’ve been in a distant foreign country. Learn a bit about the language and the culture of the country you are staying in, and everyone will try to make your stay as comfortable as possible.