Traveling to a country that you are not familiar with can be both exciting and frightening. The thrill that comes with doing something for the first time is totally unmatched. At the same time, not knowing what to expect upon arrival can also make you feel anxious. In order to lessen your worries, here are tips for first time travelers to an unfamiliar country.
Prepare everything prior to your travel
• Make sure that you bring all your travel documents with you. Be familiar with the immigration laws to avoid problems upon arrival. Book your travel ticket months ahead of the trip and reserve local transportation as well. Of course, don’t forget to look for a comfortable place to stay.
• Pack appropriate clothes. Research about the type of clothing that people in the place usually wear. Avoid wearing clothes that are deemed as impolite in that country.
• Bring extra snacks with you. Place some in your luggage and the others in your hand carry bag. You might get very hungry during the trip especially if it is a long one. The snacks can also sustain you until such time when you can find a local restaurant that you are comfortable with.
• Be familiar with the restrictions in certain countries. When traveling to Thailand for instance, you are not allowed to bring Buddha images with you. In some Arabic countries, bringing non-Islamic religious items is not allowed.
• Learn the local languages. Just learn the basics such as saying, “Thank You” or “I am sorry.” It is also important to know how to say the correct words especially if you have food restrictions that might be included in your order.
• Bring cash and credit cards. In some instances, credit cards would help a lot. However, in some countries where credit cards are not accepted in several stores, be ready to have cash with you.
What to do upon arrival
• Look for a reliable money changer. It is advisable to change money to the country where you are going to rather than in your home country as the rate might be different. Money changes in your home country might also not have the currency that you need. In terms of rates, you need to know the exchange rate for the day to avoid being fooled by money changers.
• Do not give your luggage to anyone who offers help or just take a local taxi service if you don’t think they can be trusted enough. In some countries, cases of stolen bags are very rampant since some tourists think those who took their bags were porters. Others have also experienced taking a taxi that charged them twice the original amount or exorbitant fees.
• Look for a local telecom shop. Find out how you can easily communicate back to your home country or to the person you are with in case you get lost or something is wrong. Inquire about internet access inside and outside your hotel.
Enjoy the actual trip
• Try out some street foods or local cuisines. It won’t kill you to give them a try. As long as you see how the food is being prepared and you buy only fresh meals, it is fine.
• Interact with the locals. Have small chit chats to learn more about their culture. If you can’t understand them, just smile and nod.
• Be polite. From the way you talk to the way you dress up, you need to move in accordance to the customs and traditions of the country. If you can try out their local costumes or have fun with their street performances, go ahead and do it.
• Don’t miss landmarks. If the country has a special landmark or an interesting activity that you must go to, you really should. You might not be back to the country again so you have to make the most out of your trip.
With these tips, traveling to an unfamiliar country for the first time is not that terrifying at all.