You have your itinerary. You’ve researched all of the places to visit; you’re booked in the hotels that are best for your budget. You’re “ready to roll.”
International travel is an amazing experience – you’re going to expose yourself to other cultures, eat amazing food, and see things you waited a lifetime to see. But there will be some surprises that you have not anticipated – good and bad. Here are a few:
The Pleasant Ones
- People will be nicer and more helpful than you may have thought. There’s just something built into the human DNA that gives us all a tendency to help others. Don’t be afraid to request help – most are just waiting to be asked.
- Traveling by train is easier than you thought it would be. There are signs in many languages, and it is convenient and efficient – trains run on time.
- Healthcare will be free. If you become sick or injured, you will have access to a hospital and medical care without charge.
- Moving from one country to another is often without hassle, border crossings, etc. on the continent of Europe. Even in Asia, it is relatively hassle-free.
- If you are a student staying in hostels, you may find that they are far nicer than you thought they would be.
- Wi-Fi will be more available than you may have thought. And if cell phone coverage from your home service may not be available, you can buy a local phone that will work.
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The Unpleasant Ones
- Prices in quality restaurants can be higher than you anticipated. Be certain to check the menu and prices before you order.
- You may pay for things you didn’t anticipate. For example, in some public restrooms in Asia, you will pay for your toilet paper.
- You may be the victim of pickpockets. They are in all major cities, and many are children. Keep your valuables “close to your chest,” like in a small travel pouch inserted into your shirt against your chest.
- Some much-touted landmarks may be disappointing. Many tourists to Italy, for example, have commented that the Leaning tower of Pisa was much smaller and much more understated than they imagined.
- You may find McDonald’s and KFC all over the place – even on the Champs d’ Elysee in Paris, there is a huge McDonalds. And the prices are exorbitant. This really takes away from the overall environment you might expect.
- While electricity is widely available, the current and wattage will be different. You will need to buy adaptors if you intent to use your electric razors, blow dryers, or curling irons.
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It’s a Matter of Attitude
When you travel to a foreign land, you know up front that you will have new and very different experiences. If you go into the trip expecting to have all of the amenities and conveniences of home, you will be disappointed. Develop an attitude of adventure and learning, and even the unpleasant things will be very minor. Stop worrying that you curling iron didn’t work and just “get out there.”
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