Mistakes to Avoid on Your First Sojourn Abroad
Mistake 1: Not exchanging some money before traveling
Most countries do not accept currencies other than their own, therefore we advise you to exchange money before your trip. Even if you are a credit card-only type of person, cash is still needed for minor purchases or for hole-in-the-wall establishments (which you are bound to stumble upon). Keep in mind that there will be a small exchange fee so budget for that as well. You can find currency exchanges in most international airports, but your best bet is to exchange at your bank for a lower fee.
Mistake 2: Assuming that everyone speaks English
This is a very common misconception people have when traveling abroad. Before traveling, learn a few important phrases in the language of the country you’re traveling to. If languages aren’t your forte or if you’d like to have more than just the basics on hand, order/pick up a pocket-sized phrase book from Amazon or your local bookstore. To make your life even easier, smartphone apps like ‘Speak & Translate’ and ‘iTranslate Translator’ offer instant voice and text translations. Trust us, locals will be a lot more willing to help you if they see you’re trying to speak their language.
Mistake 3: Packing more than you need
Just because you’re traveling to a new place does not mean you will finally wear those pair of pants that have been sitting in your closet for months. Make an essentials packing list before your trip and stick to you. We realize you may want to look your best for pictures, but try the French method of mixing and matching pieces with different accessories such as hats, jewelry and scarves to save you room and weight.
Mistake 4: Packing items that are uncomfortable
In addition to mistake #3, do not pack items that you know are uncomfortable and don’t pack items that you plan on testing out their comfort while abroad. If a pair of shoes have ever caused you a blister or if a shirt has constantly made you check to make sure your girls aren’t hanging out, do not bring them along! You are already going to feel a slight discomfort from being in a new place, do not add uncomfortable clothes to the mix—that’s a recipe for a terrible trip.
Mistake 5: Not keeping your passport safe
Your passport is the most valuable item you will be carrying with you abroad. You’ve heard horror stories of people losing passports, forgetting them in bars or even passports being pickpocketed—do not become a victim of this! Passports do not just get you through security, you’ll most likely need it when checking into a hotel, purchasing items and getting out of any trouble abroad (which hopefully will not happen). Keep your passport with you and close to you at all times. Do not keep it in your pocket and do not keep it in a purse that doesn’t close properly or is not close to your body. You can actually purchase a passport holder pouch that you can wear under your clothes or a scarf that has a special zipper for a passport. **Additional note: Make sure your passport is valid for six months before your trip, otherwise you will be denied access from boarding your international flight.
Mistake 6: Not packing a travel adapter
Heads up—most countries have their own type of power outlets. Yes, you can use your same cord, but the prongs on the plug will differ from country to country. Purchase one before you travel so you don’t get stuck battery-less searching for an adapter in a new country. We recommend purchasing a worldwide all-in-one travel adapter because we know you’ll become a travel addict after your first trip!
Mistake 7: Not checking the voltage
A converter and travel adapter must be thought of together. If you’re planning on traveling with appliances and electronics, they will need a power converter so that they don’t overheat and “blow-up” (not literally, but the fuse blows). If this happens, your appliance is dunzo—even when you try to use it on your home voltage again. Items such as laptops and phones will be fine (but do double check beforehand). You need to be careful of appliances such as hair dryers, hair straighteners, irons and electrical razors—they will stop working if put in a too high or too low electrical circuit. Your best bet is to purchase dual-voltage appliances or a power converter.
Mistake 8: Not figuring out your phone plan
News flash, most mobile phones do not work in other countries. Make sure you know what type of phone plan you have and what options are available in order to use your phone abroad. Here are some options:
Upgrade your plan via your phone carrier to include international roaming.
Purchase a SIM card in the country you’re traveling to. This will give you a new number (except your Whatsapp number will remain the same) and internet access everywhere.
Only text and call through Whatsapp when connected to hotel, train or coffee shop WIFI. If you choose this option, be sure to download offline maps beforehand so that you can still get directions even without an internet connection.
Mistake 9: Sharing too much information with strangers
We don’t want you traveling with the mindset that everyone is out to get you, but we want you to be cautious and stay safe. You’ll meet a lot of people while traveling, some you’ll become good friends with, and others will just become acquaintances. Some will have good intentions while others won’t but may disguise themselves as people who do. Don’t be fooled! Be nice to everyone, but don’t share too much info about yourself, your itinerary or where you’re staying. The last thing you want is a stalker, robber or worse on your adventurous trip abroad. Avoid going into deserted places alone and never go alone with someone you just met. Make sure your phone is fully charged before leaving your hotel and keep local police and emergency personnel’s numbers in your contacts, just in case. Bottom line is, use common sense—you’re not in a place you’re familiar with.
Mistake 10: Following a strict itinerary
We know you want a plan so that you don’t waste any precious time while traveling, but it’s always good to leave some wiggle room for opportunities that may arise. Sometimes you’ll stumble upon hidden gems or want to check out a local’s recommendation. Abiding by a strict itinerary will prevent you from taking in all the destination has to offer. Mishaps will happen and the best way to deal with them is to think of them as another adventure. You’ll get lost, you also may lose things, plans may fall through, but don’t let that set you back—consider it an opportunity to see or do something that you hadn’t expected. This mindset will make you a happier, more confident and patient person.