Travelling is always an adventure. It is exciting, fun, and interesting to see how other people live. Some people are frightened to venture from their native lands, perhaps they have been looking at the medieval maps, where unexplored areas of the World were marked with the epithet, “Here be dragons!”. Provided you follow the advice of your country’s foreign affairs department or the Foreign Office about which countries are unsafe for your country’s nationals, most countries are as safe as your own country.
Here are a few tips for those considering travelling abroad.
1) Research the country you intend to visit before you go. For several reasons, you will get more out of your visit by knowing things in advance. If you are visiting London, you may know to visit Buckingham Palace, for the Changing of the Guard, and the Tower of London, but by researching London before you go you will find out about other places that may interest you like the Old Curiosity Shop said to be the model for one in Dickens’ novel. You can also investigate the various rover-type tickets, that allow you to use the Underground railway and buses as many times as you like. in a given period, which must be booked before you leave your home country to get the best price. Prior research also helps you to understand cultural differences between the country you are visiting and your own country, so that you do not give offence unwittingly to locals when you do go on your vacation. You will know whether the shops close for two hours at lunchtime, or that in South West France many shops are closed on Mondays.
2) Do not turn your nose up at the food. If you spend your vacation, looking for hamburgers or egg and chips you will miss a great deal. One of the best ways into a country’s culture is trying the food. Eating pasta in your local High street fast food pasta place is not a patch on eating proper pasta in a funny little café in Italy. The best places to eat abroad are those where the locals eat. Walk past the glitzy places on the seafront and follow the locals up a side street and into a funny little café with oilskin tablecloths and take the last table in the place and you will eat a memorable dinner at a good price.
3) Take some local currency with you, remember that credit cards are not acceptable everywhere. If you are going to use your credit card abroad, inform the provider, before you travel, otherwise they may decline them, due to what they believe is an unauthorised use. Withdrawing cash on credit cards from automatic telling machines will cost you a fortune. Only carry enough money for your immediate needs, flashing a huge roll of bank notes is stupid and unnecessary. Lock away extra money with your passport, and carry photocopies for identification.
4) Learning a few words of the language of the country that you are going to visit will help you a great deal. If you can say hello, goodbye, thank-you, please, excuse me and pardon, the locals will be touched that you made the effort and they will be far more helpful than if you simply yell at them in English. More often than not, there will be someone around, who is anxious to try out their carefully learned English on you.
5) Certain clothes, behaviour, and manners, perfectly acceptable in your own country, may be inappropriate in the country that you are visiting. Remember that you are a guest in someone else’s homeland and, just as when you visit a relative or friend’s home you abide by their house rules rather than your own, you need to behave with respect. You should not wear t shirts bearing offensive, religious, or otherwise objectionable slogans or pictures. In some countries, it is not acceptable for men to walk around bare-chested or to wear a bathing costume anywhere, except the beach or swimming pool. Women in particular should be careful about dress, short skirts and revealing tops may be hip in your local disco, but they will excite more than comment in some countries and may make you the subject of unwelcome attention or even put you in danger. In other countries, women may have to cover their heads and arms or even cover themselves from head to foot. Do be sure that you research these things very thoroughly before you travel.
There is no need to be frightened about travelling abroad, provided you research the country, that you intend to visit, thoroughly before you travel, and use the same common sense that you would use in your own country. It is fun and exciting to travel to different countries, it broadens the mind, opens our horizons and helps us to learn about other cultures and people.