There Dan Was

Smart Overseas Travel Hacks (Part 2)

How can we create an amazing overseas experience?

For me, the first two factors that strongly influence the outcome of a trip are proper preparations and maximizing safety. I dove into these ingredients in my last blog post.

What else can potentiate fond memories? Personally, I feel that the next step towards having a meaningful adventure is being a respectful traveler.

How to be a respectful traveler:

A few years ago, during a trip, I encountered some friendly travelers from Egypt. During the course of our conversation, they admitted that I was the first American that they’d ever met in real life.

This blew me away and gave light to a fact we often forget about while traveling:

Whether we like it or not, we are unofficial ambassadors for our countries, cities, and states while overseas.

I felt obliged to leave a positive impression on these people and didn’t want to be known as that American asshole.

How can we avoid being viewed as jerks while abroad?

Firstly, when we enter foreign countries it’s important to respect the cultures of where we’re going as much as possible (even if we don’t comprehend them). There’s plenty of useful information online about taboos, laws, and culture points.

The second thing we can do is learn a few words or phrases of the local language. Even “hello” “thank you” and “goodbye” shows that we’re at least making an effort to communicate in the native tongue. Knowing proper greeting and farewell etiquette is useful as well. Seemingly mundane details like that can go a long way. If you want to get some extra brownie points with locals, read up on some current events for where you’re headed.

Another thing to remember is that even when we’re on vacation, we’re aren’t on vacation from using good manners. Use common sense about when to speak loudly, slowly, or on the phone. Listen to what people have to say and respect their viewpoint, even if we don’t share their way of thinking.

Perhaps you’re going to do the hostel scene during the course of your journey and don’t expect to meet any locals. That’s totally cool too, and a good way to create meaningful relationships with other travelers is to remember that we all worked hard to make this journey happen. We all have stories and can teach each other something useful.

Additionally, I think that if we set an intention to try and learn something new while abroad while accepting as much as possible this new place’s way of doing things we’ll have a better overall experience.  

How to have the most fun:  

After we’ve successfully packed our bags, researched customs of the country you’re headed to, and taken all necessary precautions to stay safe, the last aspect to an amazing trip is this:

We want to do cool activities.

If we don’t want to spend much time digging around for inspiration then the easiest thing we can do is consult advice from friends or family who have been to where you’re going. A quick Facebook post will probably generate lots of leads.

If you want to do your own activity investigation, then there are a throng of websites which specialize in helping travelers become inspired. My go-to’s are TripAdvisor, TripSavvy, Lonely Planet, Matador Network and Culture Trip.  These sites are packed with quality advice and can even help you reserve tours or various excursions. Additionally, Airbnb provides intriguing experiences for travelers. 

After reading up on various activities, I then like to dig through Instagram. Thousands of pictures will help convince you or change your mind about certain places/activities. It’s a solid way to wash away any doubts of what you think could be fun.

Some great ramen was once discovered in Sapporo, thanks to a helpful article from Culture Trip!

Also, reading up on cultural festivals for your intended destination can also offer an extra fun boost. For example, Valencia, Spain is a wonderful city that deserves a visit at any time of year but it’s at the apex of excitement during Fallas. Your future self might regret missing an incredible cultural event.

Murcia, Spain is fun at any point during the year. It’s even better in April during
Bando de a Huerta!

In a previous another blog post I shared ways for travelers to make new friends while overseas. If your goal is to meet people and you’re going to travel alone then this article might serve you well!

***

Thank you for reading! I hope some of this information helps you plan the most amazing journey ever.

As stated before, this is all based on my own personal experiences and might not be of use to you. Either way, I appreciate your time and wish you the best. If you have additional questions then feel free to connect with me.

Have a nice day, keep up the great work. 😉

-Daniel Catena

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