We are opening a series of posts about foreign travels and things you should take into consideration upon setting off on your journey. And we'd like to start with some general recommendations. Here is our check list.
First of all, keep in mind time difference. There are 24 time zones in the world and some countries operate in several zones at once. For example, Russia has 11 time zones (that's the biggest number!) while the US have 5. Mind you, transport schedules and tickets show departure/arrival time in local time only. So pay attention and keep track of time. Our in-app time converter can help you with it.
Next in our list but probably #1 in importance is money. When you travel abroad you mostly pay in local currency. Try to learn beforehand what currency is used in the country you are visiting and its exchange rate. Do not carry all the money on you. However, it is advisable to have some cash.
Good travelling requires sufficient planning. To make the most of your time abroad we recommend to get some information about transport and ways to get around. Usually information about available types of transport as well as schedules and ticket prices could be found in travel guides and tourist brochures or on official websites.
Tip: read some internet forums and blog posts about the place you're visiting. They always have plenty of useful information. By the way, there might be some unusual types of local transport. For instance, every visitor should take a trip in a Venetian gondola or a chinese rickshaw. If you happen to visit India or Sri Lanka, local tuktuks may prove to be the most convenient way to get around. They are cheap and noisy but could get even into the narrowest streets.
When planning your journey, always check the weather forecast for your destination. It is such a disappointment to find yourself under a chilly rain wearing only a swimsuit.
Geographical features of the place you are visiting could also play an important role in your travelling experience. Check in advance if the place is prone to any natural disasters like earthquakes or floods and take necessary safety precautions. Additionally, some regions of the world have serious seasonal changes in the weather. Most of Southeast Asia experience monsoons while Africa is known for its draughts.
Customs and traditions
Next, get some general information about the country you're visiting, its customs and traditions. Knowing some cultural details could save you minutes of shame and confusion. For example, in Japan people do not shake hands but bow to each other. Women are advised to think carefully about clothing choices when going to Arab countries. You should also take into consideration religious beliefs. For example, most people in Israel observe Shabbat, so they don't work on Saturdays and lots of businesses are closed that day.
One of the most important things to learn about is health care. We strongly recommend to get a tourist health insurance. Additionally, it is good to know where the closest hospital is and where you can get help of doctors who speak your language. Also check if you need to get vaccinated before setting off on your journey. And of course you should follow some ground hygiene rules - better drink bottled water and always wash your hands!
When travelling abroad we usually want to try local cuisine. Food gives us a better understanding of local culture and customs. Plan ahead (if possible) where you will eat.
Tip: try to find a non-touristy place. Watch the locals closely and see what places they prefer. Keep in mind that food and some dishes may differ greatly from those you are used to. For example, asian food is said to be extremely hot and spicy. Try to be careful in your gastronomic adventures.
Electricity and voltage are two more - quite unobvious - points to consider. Experienced travellers would know that socket types and voltage in them vary across the globe. European computers and other appliances might not work well in the US for instance. We recommend to have several adapters in your bag.
Also when staying in a hotel check if they have a wi-fi connection and how much it is. Although we are used to wireless Internet, it might not be free or available at the place of your destination.
Shopping is an important part of travelling. We advise to find out some good places to shop beforehand. And keep in mind that clothes sizes could differ from those in your country of residence. Our #TouristTools app and its size converter could help you find the right size.
Another point concerning shopping: check what is allowed to bring into and out of the country you're going to. It is best to clear the customs without problems and not to spoil you travelling experience.This is a long list of tips and recommendations. But, as we've said above, good travelling requires good planning.