Sure, you’ve always dreamed of visiting exotic lands overseas, but have you really thought this through? While overseas travel is fun and rewarding, there are a few things to consider before making those final plans.
The Travel Itself
We can’t all travel in private Learjets, but there are still ways to make your trip even more comfortable than you think. There is not only first-class seating available to anyone willing to pay the price, but business class is another option. Not as fancy or expensive as first class, but certainly more comfortable than coach, you may want to consider paying more for this upgrade. Some airlines such as British Airways and Virgin afford a little more comfort in coach on international flights than regional carriers and usually offer real meals and unlimited movies. The new wave of discount airlines such as Spirit, Frontier and Ryan Air in Europe will save you a bundle but you do give up some of the comfort. If you’re going to sleep the whole way anyway, do you really need free movies?
That’s the best way to put the fact that a lot of Americans are not bilingual. Going to certain countries like England and Australia means you will have no language problems. Going to far-flung lands that don’t claim English as their primary language might be a bit tougher. If you are conversationally challenged or worse yet, not very patient, you may struggle in some regions but English is still very prominent in most countries. If you take the trouble to learn a few phrases or at least just a greeting or two in the local lingo, along with the words for “Please” and “Thank you” you will have a much easier time. A smile goes a long way everywhere and just showing you are at least attempting to speak their language will usually afford you a lot more consideration.
Money, Money, Money
When deciding on where to visit, you may want to consider the exchange rates. Right now the dollar is strong nearly everywhere, so many parts of the world are more affordable than ever. Europe has seen a change in the U.S Dollar to the Euro exchange so it is more affordable there than in the recent past. Some credit cards such as Discover, for example, have been dropping their fees for overseas charges, making them even more affordable.
Food for Thought
Some of us are picky eaters. I cannot eat seafood, so that limits me on my choices when visiting the most coastal places. I’ve never had trouble finding something good to eat; I just feel I have missed out on a lot of the local specialties. Of course, there are always options. In Jamaica, I get to gorge myself on Jerk Chicken and Pork. In this day there’s always a McDonald’s or even a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet somewhere nearby but don’t be the tourist who sticks to their comfort zone too much. Trying different food in far-away lands is one of the joys of international travel.
The Weather is Delightful or Dreadful
If you can’t handle the heat and/or humidity, you should be careful of where you go or at least when you go there. Many popular travel destinations, other than the Arctic or Antarctic regions, can get very hot in the summer. That’s why May and October are great months to travel to places that get a bit warm. Humidity can be stifling, especially to those of us not used to it. On the other hand, you are traveling so experiencing a completely different climate makes for part of the fun. If the heat and humidity are tough on you, make sure you’re on or near the beach or have a pool available. If the cold bites all the way to your bones but you want to ski in Europe, go in March or April when the days are warmer. There is always a way to make any climate bearable, you just have to plan it right.
While danger lurks in every corner of the world, that doesn’t mean you can’t be and feel safe wherever you are. The U.S. State Department issues travel warnings for hotspots around the world and you should heed them. They provide great insight as to the level of danger, but also what areas of individual countries you should avoid. Some regions have hotspots of criminal activity that should not preclude you from visiting other safer areas of the same country. Certain parts of Mexico, for example, have been listed as too dangerous to visit while other areas such as the Mayan Riviera area of Cancun and Playa del Carmen are perfectly safe for all tourists. Let’s be honest, there are probably parts of your hometown you wouldn’t recommend visiting, so use your head, don’t go where you have no business being and you will be fine.