overseas travel guide for women travellers
Travelling overseas is an awesome experience. You get to meet new people, experience a brand new culture, and in some cases learn how to deal in a country where they don’t speak your language, and you don’t speak a whole lot of theirs. In most countries, if you happen to be an English speaking mookychick who happens to be way out of your depth, then they’ll do their best to accommodate you in any way they can. But if you decide to take a trip only to discover that you’ll more than likely end up the creek without a paddle, here are some handy tips for surviving your trip.
1. Have the passport done well before you are due to leave.
There is nothing worse than having your supposed leaving date looming over your shoulder and freaking out because your passport hasn’t arrived yet. Get the passport done well before the date you are supposed to be leaving to avoid the last-minute panic.
2. Pack the week before. Then triple-check it.
Ok, so you’ve reached your destination of choice. Only to discover that, whoops, you forgot to pack your towel/undies/toiletries, etc. and you have absolutely no idea how to go about purchasing new ones in a foreign country. Pack the week before. Then check it multiple times. It also helps to make a checklist of everything that could conceivably, POSSIBLY be useful to you. Then triple-check that list too. Because, trust me, forgetting that all-important thing just sucks. It’s inconvenient, and then you have to spend money on buying a new one, when you could be spending that money on souvenirs.
3. Order as much food and drink as possible to go.
Especially when you happen to be waiting for a plane, train, bus, etc. This is a hint that my friend gave me. Just order everything you can to go, because you never know when you’ll have to dash off, and it wouldn’t be cool if you had to leave your meal halfway through and then ended up hungry, thus forcing you to spend more money.
4. Wear comfy shoes.
I can’t stress this enough. Chances are, if you’re travelling to a foreign country, then you’ll be doing a lot of travelling in trains, planes, buses, cars, and on foot. All that can be very taxing on your feet, especially if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing. Your feet will love and thank you for choosing that comfy pair of runners with the arch support over your trendiest pair of still-need-to-be-worn-in sneakers.
5. Check what the weather is going to be like before you leave.
Dress for the season. Make sure you know what the weather is going to be like, or chances are you’ll end up wearing your long-sleeved tops in the stickiest, most humid weather you’ve ever dreamed of.
6. Be sensible with your money.
Don’t just go buying every souvenir you see. Before you go, calculate how much money you’ll need for food, accommodation, emergencies, etc. Then feel free to spend any leftover money on whatever else you want.
7. Try not to LOSE your money.
Take at least half of it in travellers’ cheques. Chances are, there will be a bank somewhere along the way where you can change it into cash. The best thing about travellers’ cheques is that you can make a photocopy of them, so if they do get lost, the bank can replace them. Also, a money belt is a great idea. Sure, it sounds dorky, but it’s better than having no cash to spend and having to visit an embassy to have some money sent to you.
8. Entertainment is a must.
If you are going to be doing a lot of long-distance travelling, then entertainment is something that you will definitely need. Bring a deck of cards, a book, MP3 player, anything. I went to Japan, my mother told me not to bring my MP3 player, consequently I spent a lot of travelling time either sleeping or being bored out of my brains.
9. Dictionaries are your friends.
If the country you are going to doesn’t speak your language, then dictionaries and phrase books are extremely useful. They’ll usually have all the important stuff in there, like food, drink, and, most importantly, the toilet. And even if you don’t get the pronunciation right, you can usually just show someone what you want and they’ll get what you mean.
10. Be prepared for a massive culture shock.
When travelling overseas, the most important thing to remember is to keep a very open mind. Be prepared to experience things you never thought you’d ever experience in your lifetime. Just try to be open to new food, people, places and things. In Japan I ended up having to use a Japanese-style toilet, not something I entirely wish to repeat, but it was an experience all the same. A friend of mine went to Korea and ate eel (she didn’t know it was eel while she was eating it). You just have to keep your mind open and give everything a go.