Happy Family at Playa Nicuesa Rainforst Lodge
Happy Family at Playa Nicuesa Rainforst Lodge

Traveling is a time to be spontaneous, live on the edge, and explore the person you can’t be when you’re at home. However, it is best to get your stuff together beforehand, so you can make the vacation all it can be.

Beautiful La Casona del Cafetal Restaurant in Cachi
Beautiful La Casona del Cafetal Restaurant in Cachi

1. Know Eating Mannerisms

This is one thing that you are going to be doing, definitely. Make sure you know the way to do it respectfully.

For instance, did you know in Egypt (and several other countries) that finishing all the food on your plate signifies that the host did not provide you with enough to eat? To finish it all can seem insulting. In Japan, it is the exact opposite, don’t finish and they may believe you did not appreciate the meal.

Make sure if you have a host, they feel appreciated.

Father & Son Reading Newspaper
Father & Son Reading Newspaper

2. Update yourself on Current Events and Country Relations

I can’t stress enough the importance of knowing current events.

Is the country is the middle of civil war? Are there parts of the country that are involved in dispute? Is the leader of the country well-regarded?

Not only that, but how does the general population feel about tourists? Make sure you respect the wishes of the indigenous population, and over all keep yourself safe.


3. Know what is considered Respectful Clothing

Is the country that you are visiting of a religious majority?

Check into the conservatism they enact with clothing and jewelry that the people observe. Even if you do practice or believe the religion or social norms they do, it is a sign of respect to the culture and people.

Visiting a famous church to look at the architecture? Traditionally, it is good to at least cover shoulders and knees, and wear pants if you are male.

Costa Rica is the perfect place to learn Spanish
Costa Rica is the perfect place to learn Spanish

4. Learn these Key Phrases in the Local Language

Even if you aren't traveling to practice your language skills, it can be completely necessary to know common phrases in the local language in case of emergency or not even in emergency, it may just come in very handy.

Also, using the common language can create a more genuine travel experience, and allow you to meet more people.

Good phrases to learn:

  • I am from __________
  • How to I find the train / metro / bus?
  • I would like a beer, please.
  • Where is the bathroom?
  • Can you show me on a map?
  • Where is _________?
  • I’m lost.
  • Do you speak English?
  • Can you speak slower?
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Downpour of rain off the coast of Costa Rica
Downpour of rain off the coast of Costa Rica

5. Look up the Weather and Anticipate taking Action Accordingly

Traveling during hurricane season? Know that.

If a major natural disaster is imminent, it may be grounds to cancel or reschedule the trip, as safety is always a number one concern. If there is a natural disaster, do you know who to contact and where you would go?

Also, this is relevant for dress. Is a major cold front scheduled to come in? May want to pack some extra sweaters.

Bottom line make sure you look at seasonal weather patterns.

Scared Tourist in a dangerous path in Costa Rica
Scared Tourist in a dangerous path in Costa Rica

6. Know Who to Contact in Case of Emergency

Know the contact information of your native country’s embassy where you are visiting. They are not always helpful in every situation, but it may come in handy.

Program the authorities, the local emergency line, and a taxi service into your phone right away, and never worry about it if something happens.

Getting Necessary Travel Immunizations
Getting Necessary Travel Immunizations

7. Find out What to Avoid, Health-wise and get Caught up on All Necessary Health Precautions

Is the tap safe to drink?

Are you at risk for malaria or West Nile?

Get caught up on all necessary immunizations, and contact your doctor about anything that might be necessary to do or check for before and after the trip.

Backpack with expensive camera - Know your surroundings when traveling
Backpack with expensive camera - Know your surroundings when traveling

8. Check out the Reputations of Certain Parts of the City & Make Sure you’re Heading into Safe Areas

This is like any city that you are going into. Make sure you are at a place where you can maintain your own safety, and keep all the things that you brought in check.

Does the city have a gang problem?

Is an event you want to go to near a neighborhood that is known for crime? Best to know beforehand, especially if the events are at night.

Obey Posted Speed Limit Traffic Signs
Obey Posted Speed Limit Traffic Signs

9. Check out Laws and Punishments that may Differ from your Home Country

Did you know that being caught partying with illegal drugs in Singapore is grounds for the death penalty?

Places can have laws that aren’t always known about or immediately relevant until they become a problem. Although non-existent in the United States, debtors prisons are still used widely in some countries, like Germany or Australia. Run up debt here, and you might find yourself in unexpected trouble.

Plan accordingly, and respect your host country.

Mail Box Full While Traveling
Mail Box Full While Traveling

10. Know What is Happening to all the Things you are Leaving at Home

This seems obvious, but just make sure that everything will be taken care of while you are gone.

Check out the kennel you are keeping your pets at, get someone to keep track of your mail, or have it held at the post office until you get back. That way, you free yourself from a lot of unnecessary headache when you get back.