As a tech and gaming enthusiast, you probably spend a lot of time inside doing what you love best. But you’re also young—and that means you should be out seeing the world.
You might be intimidated at the thought of traveling internationally, especially if you plan on traveling by yourself. Or you might feel entirely comfortable with the thought of international travel, but have no idea where to begin. Either way, this guide should help you understand the important fundamentals of international travel, and allow you to plan accordingly.
Benefits of International Travel
So why would you travel internationally in the first place, especially when most of your favorite hobbies are available stateside?
- Experiences and memories. On a superficial level, your trip is going to be enjoyable. You’ll be traveling new places, eating great food, and forming new memories that will last forever.
- Perspectives and culture. You’ll also have the opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture, which can help you form a more global perspective and introduce you to new practices and customs.
- The flexibility of youth. It’s especially important to travel while you’re young because you’ll be healthier, with more flexible accommodations (like hostels), and fewer things to tie you down (like a career or family).
Tips for Success
If you’re getting ready for an international trip, make sure you follow these tips:
- Apply for a passport early. If you’re traveling outside the country, you’ll need a passport. If you don’t have a passport, you should apply for one as early as possible; it takes several weeks, if not months, to process a passport application, and if that process is delayed by increased applications, you could put your trip in jeopardy. Play it safe by applying several months before you actually intend to go.
- Make a loose plan. If you try to plan everything, down to the last detail, you’ll miss out on some of the most important parts of the trip—including leisure time and exploration. If you don’t plan anything at all, you’ll end up lost, in tough situations, and you’ll miss out on some of the coolest parts of your destination. The solution is to make a loose plan, with plenty of room for flexibility and new additions.
- Learn local etiquette and customs. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” That’s a cheeky anecdote, but it’s rooted in truth; you’ll get the most out of Rome if you allow yourself to submit to Roman culture, and the same can be said of any city or country. Different areas will have different customs, including things like tipping etiquette, the meaning of physical gestures, manners and politeness, personal space, and pace of travel. Learn them, and allow yourself to adopt them; it’s the best way to get the feel of another culture.
- Learn new languages (as much as possible). Chances are, some people will speak some English no matter where you go. But it’s better if you reach out a hand and learn the language that’s most popular in your destination—at least enough to get by. This will help you better understand the culture, and give you more options for communication once you arrive.
- Prepare for emergencies. Though most international trips are completed without incident, you should prepare for an emergency with a handful of contingency plans. What happens if your hotel is not available? What will you do if your passport is lost or stolen? It never hurts to have a backup plan in place.
- Prepare your technology. Obviously, you’ll want to bring some of your favorite tech with you—how else will you binge-watch Netflix on the airplane? But you’ll need to be aware of how that technology might function differently in another country. For example, you may need to purchase electrical adapters so you can plug into international outlets, or upgrade your phone’s data plan so it will work in other countries.
- Talk to people.While in another country, talk to the locals as much as possible. Ask for restaurant recommendations. Ask them what they usually do on the weekends. Make small talk. Inquire about their lives once you get to know them a bit. Absorbing the climate, architecture, and art of another region is enlightening, but the only way to become truly acquainted with a culture is to see it through the eyes of another human being.
Your first international trip is going to be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re traveling alone. But once you get that first venture under your belt, everything will seem easier and more approachable. And chances are, you’ll enjoy yourself so much, you’ll start planning your next venture out the day you return.