1. Be flexible & patient — you are not in your home country, so different standards of efficiency & customer service may apply...take a deep breath! This is all part of the experience.
2. Bring an unlocked cell phone — many countries have local SIM cards that can be purchased and put into your cell phone — you’ll be able to use your phone just as you do in your home country.
3. Download WhatsApp to your cell phone before leaving home — it is the most widely used App for communication worldwide. Encourage your family to also download it- they'll love hearing from you on your adventure.
4. Learn a few basic phrases in the language of the country you will be visiting — even if you butcher it, trying goes a long way.
5. If you’re traveling on public transportation (bus, train), opt to pay extra for a Direct Bus or a 2nd class ticket — sometimes a little more comfort & efficiency are worth the extra couple of dollars.
6. Don’t touch or feed local street dogs or cats — they tend to carry diseases and showing even a little bit of love may result in ringworm.
7. Read about the country you’ll be visiting and what their cultural norms are...this may help in understanding certain customs. R-E-S-P-E-C-T is the name of the game, and planning ahead is key.
8. When in the tropics, take a 24-hour non-drowsy anti-histamine. You may still get bit, but it won’t itch as bad!
9. Bring toilet paper and/or wipes with you — it can come in handy when using public bathrooms.
10. Meal times vary greatly between country. In the same way you wouldn't expect a restaurant in your home town to start serving dinner at 10pm, don't expect the same timing and types of meals abroad.
11. Negotiate prices with taxis before accepting a ride. When possible, check the Uber/Lyft price for negotiation leverage.
12. When it comes to having cocktails or chilled beverages, avoid crushed ice in your drink in countries where waterborne illness is a concern. Opt for the ice that has holes in it which means it's been filtered. This isn't true everywhere, just where filtering your water is a necessity.
13. Ask for a business card at your hotel or hostel and take a photo of it. That way, if you get lost you have the name and address of your lodging in the local language.
14. Notify your bank of your travel plans before you leave. That way, the fraud department won't be alerted to your card being used in a strange location and cut off access to your card when you need it most!
15. Double check the passport and visa requirements of the country you're visiting. Many countries require your passport to be valid for three-to-six months after you enter the country, so if you passport is due to expire soon you may need to renew.
16. Bring a plug adapter. All electronics are dual voltage and the only time you'll need to bring a transformer is for a hair dryer. But we recommend leaving that at home anyway.
17. Buy tickets or passes in advance for the places you know you'll want to visit. This ensures that you not only get to visit the historic or cultural sites you've been dreaming of but also that you don't have to spend your vacation time standing in line.
18. Register with your in-country embassy. In the case that you need assistance this will make it easier.
19. Download podcasts and audiobooks before you go, but don't let them get in the way of engaging fully with the locals.
20. Slow down and don't over plan! Take time to soak up a town or experience, meet the locals, and enjoy the area instead of trying to cram too many locations or museums into one visit.