Bon Voyage: Here Are 5 Things You Need to Know Before Traveling Abroad

The ADM French class recently took a trip to Barcelona, Spain and Paris, France. Wowed at the view,  7 students and Madame Rezek pose for a photo at the Park Guell in Barcelona.
The ADM French class recently took a trip to Barcelona, Spain and Paris, France. Wowed at the view, 7 students and Madame Rezek pose for a photo at the Park Guell in Barcelona.
Photo by Colleen Milburn

With summer hot on your heels, you might be considering taking a trip out of the country or already have one planned out. Traveling abroad is not for the weak; you have to be aware of your surroundings at all times in unfamiliar areas and know the do’s and don’ts when entering a new country. Here are the best tips to remember when making your travel dreams come true.

Tip #1:

Never travel with a backpack in big cities; you will get pickpocketed. Consider investing in an anti-theft bag that you can wear under your jacket or clothes and don’t keep anything valuable in your pockets. Cities such as Rome, Barcelona, and lots of areas in Paris are overrun with pickpocketers. It is crucial to keep your belongings secure and know what is happening around you.

Tip #2:

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While it’s hard to walk past someone in a bad situation, do not give any money to people begging on the street. Scam artists usually tend to work in pairs and it is often a ploy to get tourists to stop, open their bags and pull out their cash. They use this moment of temporary distraction to rob you, and often you won’t even know until you walk away and try to find something later. Plus, it is common to only travel with a little bit of currency, so you don’t want to hand out the cash that you might need in an emergency later.

Tip #3:

Don’t be “that tourist.” Make an effort to learn the culture and maybe even a couple of common phrases if the place you’re going to speaks a different language than you. Junior Emily Piepmeier recently went on a trip to France and made an effort to speak as much French as she could when communicating with locals.

“It made it easier to get what you wanted, like if you wanted directions or food, it made it a lot easier than if you were to speak English,” Piepmeier said. “It also made people really nice to you compared to if you were speaking English at them.”

Piepmeier heavily encourages potential travelers to at least learn how to say hello and thank you in the language of the country they are visiting.

Tip #4:

Refuse the jet lag. I’m a firm believer that jet lag is a choice and even avoiding the thought of it will ensure that you do not feel any sort of flight-related exhaustion throughout your trip. Obviously, you will feel tired– especially after a long flight– but do not let it define your day and what you do. I recommend doing light walking and exploring after stepping out of the airport if daylight permits. The worst thing you can do is fumble your sleep schedule even more by caving into the debilitating fatigue. I found that jet lag caught up with me more when I got back home rather than in the new country because I was so determined for it not to affect me.

Tip #5

If you internalize only one piece of information, have it be this: pack lighter than you could have ever imagined. You will have virtually no room in your suitcase on the way there, now imagine how stuffed the way back will be when you are trying to cram souvenirs in. Pack your suitcase like you think you should, then take half of your clothes out and put them back in your closet– you won’t need it all. We as humans tend to overprepare for any situation and there just isn’t room for that when you’re traveling. Don’t be scared to pack things that you would be OK with leaving at your destination if the time comes and your suitcase won’t zip.

With these tips, you’ll avoid the emotional turbulence of traveling and be able to focus on getting the most out of your vacation.

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