***Last day…better late than never, right? I’m glad I finished.***
Day 15 – Advice to someone who is thinking about traveling to another country
I think Deidre of Vai Via Blog
really captured the sentiment of any advice I could give you if you’re thinking about traveling abroad, which is (like Nike says) “Just Do It!”
I know that there are a lot of constraints perceived and real that deter people from getting out there to see the larger world: lack of vacation time, money, worry about safety, etc., but I want to tell you to do it anyway.
Here is some of the advice I’d give to folks thinking about traveling abroad soon:
1. Be intentional about travel.
If you do want to get away, make a plan and figure out a way to get where you want to go. Maybe that means planning for over a year, but at least you have travel on your radar and are focused about incorporating it into your life. As I get older, I realize that the everyday aspects of life can get in the way VERY easily and take priority over travel, i.e., bills, family obligations, etc. I know one of the biggest roadblocks people experience with traveling is money. I love how Catherine from Forty Twenty Four
and her husband purposefully incorporate a line item in their budget for travel savings. That’s how it’s got to be! I know I have not talked about money on this blog yet, but a post is in the making because I do want to address it.
2. Learn a little about the history and culture of the place you’re visiting beforehand. You definitely don’t need to read Phd. level history books, but it really adds to your experience if you take a little time to even read the history section of the guidebook, Wikipedia or SOMETHING before exploring another country. Understanding the context for what you see and encounter will deepen your experience while there.
3. It’s okay if you don’t speak the local language.
Wait, you didn’t know I spoke Turkish? 🙂 Just kidding. Melinda from Palindrome at Home
did ask me this question a few months ago, and I haven’t addressed this yet. If you are reading this blog, you either a) are a native speaker of English, or b) have learned English quite well enough to understand my rambling. I want to tell you that you are lucky in many respects. English is widely spoken by many people in the tourism industry all over the world. I’ve spoken English to Balinese shopkeepers, Turkish cab drivers and Brazilian street kids. Yes, there are some countries where English is not widely spoken, but to be honest that is actually part of the experience of traveling abroad. In those instances, some good basic phrases or some genuine smiles and hand gestures can go a long way. People have been so nice to me when I have addressed them in their language and made an attempt to speak even if I don’t sound like a native (or even close).
4. Safety is important, but don’t let it paralyze you. I know that we live in a crazy, scary world sometimes. I’m not staying throw caution to the wind and make a trip to Afghanistan tomorrow, but the evil forces in the world that perpetrate bad things want many of us to live in fear. I refuse to do that, and you shouldn’t either. If I thought about terrorism on a regular basis, I would never leave my apartment or use the subway. We need to be vigilant about our safety wherever we live. With this in mind, actually heading out and seeing the world will only help in understanding that the world can be a welcoming place.
5. It ain’t like home. That’s the point though, isn’t it? The beauty of the modern world even with its computers and cell phones making it a little bit smaller is that people still have customs, lifestyles and foods 🙂 that make where they live unique. The fun part of traveling is to explore those differences.
What advice would you give anyone thinking about traveling abroad?