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October 2019

International Travel Tips You May Not Have Thought Of

Common considerations for traveling abroad

Spending time in the country of your target language is the best way to learn, because it immerses you in both language and culture. Traveling internationally, however, can be a challenge beyond financial reasons for many people who may not be as well travelled. Even those who travel often sometimes forget essentials because we often take everyday utilities for granted. Today we’ll take a look at some international travel tips you may not have thought of, from the items you might need to the considerations you ought to take.

Get your sockets in order

We rely increasingly on technology these days; it’s more important than ever to pack accordingly to satisfy our gadgets. From the proper plugs to the cables we need, it’s good practice to check and double-check that we bring the proper items. Such accessories include smartphone chargers, USB cables, photography accessories, and, perhaps most importantly, adapter plugs for countries that use different socket formats.

A great tip is to bring a surge protector so you can plug in more electronics into one socket, eliminating the need for more adaptors, while ensuring protection for your electronics when plugged into potentially old sockets.

Google if you can Google

While many countries enjoy relatively free access to the world’s websites, some countries are more restrictive with respect to the websites you’re allowed to access. Perhaps the most famous of these countries is China, where sites like Google and Instagram are blocked. Those who rely on Gmail and Google Docs for work may find themselves out of luck if they don’t make the proper preparations, and those who use Instagram for sharing may be forced into silence.

Visitors, therefore, should find alternative sites and services that they can use in such countries. Many locals use virtual private networks (VPNs) to bypass restrictions to access certain sites, but it should be known that VPNs may be not be allowed in certain countries and you may risk running afoul of local laws. This brings us to our next section...

Different country, different laws

Before visiting any foreign country, do a quick search on local laws that may be different from your home country. For example, chewing gum is banned in Singapore for the majority of citizens. The city of Petrolia in Canada forbids excessive noise, so you shouldn’t be yelling, whistling, or singing while out in public. And hiking nude in Switzerland isn’t allowed, so you may want to get that in check if that was part of your summer plans.

When okay is not okay

Related to local laws are local customs. While bad behavior usually isn’t illegal, it’s certainly bad form to be rude while abroad. Do a quick search for what is considered rude in the country you’re about to visit. For example, certain hand gestures which are okay (such as the okay sign) in many countries is considered rude. In Yemen, this hand gesture represents the evil eye. Some gestures may change over time as well, as the okay sign in the United States has been increasingly associated with “white power” in the past year.

Living like a local

Most hotels offer everything you need for a comfortable stay, but if you’re staying in a local residence, you may need to take charge of managing your stay. In Shanghai, for example, staying in a local residence through sites like Airbnb require registration with the local police department. This is something to consider if the host fails to do it for you. Hotels should handle this for you without any action required on your part.

Staying safe in the home is also important, and considerations should be made if the home is old. Aside from the aforementioned surge protector to protect from electricity surges, bringing a portable carbon monoxide detector may be a good idea. Carbon monoxide leaks are extremely dangerous, and, unlike gas, one cannot smell carbon monoxide. Opt for a battery-powered version to make travel easier, as rechargeable lithium batteries cannot be stored in check-in baggage.

What are your top lesser-known tips for international travel? Let us know on our Facebook Page, and be sure to “like” telc English for more articles on culture and travel!