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International Travel Tips

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Traveling the world is one of the greatest experiences a person can have. Discovering other cultures and stepping out of your comfort zone can only help you grow as a person, and that is a wonderful thing. But as you begin to explore new lands, know the importance of researching where you are going beforehand. Like in the United States, every country or even city, has its own customs and culture. It is important that you make the effort to learn about these: not only to make your life easier, but to show respect to the people you will interact with while you are abroad. Here are a few tips on what is most important to research before you make your next big trip.


Learning how people tip in a foreign country is something that every person should look into before traveling. For example, in Italy there is a service charge included in the bill which should be visible on your receipt. If you receive exceptional service you can round up your bill or leave a 10% tip, but it is extremely uncommon to leave more than that. All over the globe waiters and waitresses make different hourly wages and service charges may or may not be the bill. To make sure your server gets what they deserve, you can use this helpful guide. If the country you are visiting is not listed, you can Google the place you are traveling to and find a number of resources to help you. The reason why tipping is so important is because what you leave or don't leave is a part of a person's livelihood, and travelers are responsible for knowing what is appropriate.


No, you do not have to become fluent in whatever language that is spoken in the country you are visiting, but it is helpful to learn a few words so that you can greet and thank the people you meet along the way. As Americans, we are fortunate that English is the most spoken language in the world, so you are sure to come along people who are also fluent in English, especially in more touristy cities. But learning how to say "hello", "goodbye," "please," and "thank you" are all very good ideas before you leave. Walking into a cafe and being able to say hello to those behind the counter and thanking them for your cappuccino is a great way to show that you made an effort to immerse yourself into their culture.

If you want to go a step further, download a translation or dictionary app before you leave. Google Translate, Waygo, and Word Lens are just a few that you can consider, dependent on the type of phone you have. Here are a few examples, and the pros and cons of each. Use them beforehand to learn a few words and phrases, or use them while on the road to translate menus or signs.


While traveling to Europe, you may find that many customs are not so drastically different from those in the United States, although there are some contrasts that are more notable. Before making dinner reservations you may want to research the times that restaurants open and when people traditionally go to dinner. In Spain, most do not begin to eat until at least 10pm. If you decide to go to a 7:30pm dinner you may find yourself being the only person in the restaurant, or even that most restaurants are closed. Italy and France also follow this custom, as do many South American and Middle Eastern countries.

When it comes to visiting a highly religious country, it is even more imperative that you research the customs and traditions that they follow. The way you dress, your hand gestures, and the amount of personal space you give someone can all mean completely different things in another country. If you are traveling to a predominantly Muslim country, here is a great resource on etiquette and interactions. Religion is always a hot topic no matter where you go in the world, so make sure you do your research and are prepared for those differences before you leave.


Last but definitely not least, there's the subject of traditional food. Every culture has a specific cuisine and specialties within that cuisine, and they are very proud of their food. One of the best ways you can immerse yourself in a culture and learn more about the place you are in is to eat the traditional food. Looking up the specialties of a country's cuisine will allow you to try things you may have never tried before and taste the local flavors. Here is a great and descriptive website you can use to research global cuisine. Bratwurst in Berlin, cuttlefish in Venice, and Pad Thai in Bangkok are all musts. Some dishes may seem strange, but it's all about getting out of that comfort zone and trying new things!

If you do your research and purchase international travel insurance, you are sure to have an amazing and safe journey filled with new experiences and maybe even new friends. Happy travels!

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