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.


Couple reading newspaper at the beachCouple reading newspaper at the beachPhoto Credit : mikecogh


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 do the general peoples feel about tourists? Make sure you respect the wishes of the indigenous population, and over all keep yourself safe.


Respect SignRespect SignPhoto Credit : Heliøs

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

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?


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 1 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.


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.


Immunization Appointment before travelingImmunization Appointment before travelingPhoto Credit : Texas A&M HSC


7. Find out what to avoid, health-wise and get caught up on all necessary health precautionary

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.


911 is a Worldwide Number in case of an Emergency911 is a Worldwide Number in case of an EmergencyPhoto Credit : cca


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.


Hand-cuffsHand-cuffsPhoto Credit : rkobes


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.


Abandoned Mail BoxAbandoned Mail BoxPhoto Credit : redesignrevolution


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.