Travel Tips

The 7 Deadly Sins of International Travel

We all like to travel to different countries, but some of us are better at it than others. Traveling internationally can be very easy or very difficult largely depending on how well you behave yourself abroad. Check out these 7 deadly sins of international travel and read on to find out how you can avoid them. Find out more travel tips here!

Planning Every Second of Your Trip

Traveling is a delicate balance between making the most of your trip and scheduling yourself to death. Some people are planners and some aren’t, and that’s perfectly okay. The key is to have a “hit list” of things you want to do (ranked by priority) + realistic expectations about how much time you actually have available. Don’t take a “checklist” trip, where you are only doing things because you want to check them off your list or because someone told you that you should see that attraction.

Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.

Allen Saunders

You can avoid this by planning one “must-do” item per day. Plan to do that thing (buy the ticket, know where to get the taxi, etc.) and then let the rest of the day happen naturally.

Pro tip: use these apps to help you plan your trip

Not Doing Enough Research

On the flip side of not over-planning is not planning enough. When you don’t do enough research, you end up missing out. You don’t need to spend 18 hours researching which is the best beach to go to, but have a good idea of your wishlist things-to-do and make sure they are plausible for your trip. For example, if you’re going to the Grand Canyon but don’t really know where you’re going to sleep that night, you may end sleeping in your car because all the hotels in the Canyon booked up.

Pro tip: get TSA PreCheck to make the flight easier!

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Being Afraid of Everything

“I would never eat street food! What if I get sick?!” – me, before eating fried chicken made by a guy frying it on a cooktop station attached to a motorcycle in Phuket, Thailand.

It was the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.

My point? Being afraid is only human, but it can hold us back from experiencing new parts of life (and travel) that could take us to new levels of thought. Easier said than done, of course. But I ate that fried chicken anyway and continued to for our whole 2-week trip. Even with my sensitive stomach and paranoia, I never got sick.

Drinking Too Much

Drinking too much is not cute in any culture. Don’t be that tourist that can’t handle their liquor, nobody wants to see you being a hot mess. You can drink but know your limits. This will save you from being embarrassed, pickpocketed, or a potentially much-worse situation. Have your drink and then get yourself home safely to your hotel.

Thailand laundry

Not Using Cash

Even if you’re visiting somewhere that accepts credit cards at most places, you’re likely to miss out by not using cash! You can often get discounts for using cash, especially in less-developed countries. Many places, like street markets, will laugh at you if you try to use a credit card and will only accept cash. I wish you luck trying to pay a tuck-tuck/taxi driver in Southeast Asia with a credit card!

On top of this, you’re missing out on the opportunity to use the local currency. Just make sure you know which one is a 50 and which one is a 5! This can be fun, especially for us Americans who only have boring green bills. To withdraw local currency, we recommend getting a Schwab checking account + debit card then withdrawing cash at an ATM in your destination country. They don’t charge transaction or ATM fees so you’re not losing out on any money.

Bottom line: it’s just easier to use cash.

PC: Redbubble

Flaunting Your Wealth

Even if you’re backpacking with just your bag and an iPhone, you have wealth that doesn’t exist in some countries. Some people take this to the extreme, wearing Rolex watches and even blatantly showing their large wads of cash in public. Even if you’re the richest man in the world, flaunting your wealth is dumb in every country. It makes you a target and if you’re traveling in a poorer area, it makes you look rude too.

PC: Dusit Hotels

Disrespecting the Local Culture

Remember that you’re traveling somewhere completely different with a different set of rules and customs.

Here are some things that can be considered rude or even illegal in some countries outside of North America:

  • Making direct eye contact
  • Touching someone’s head
  • Tipping a restaurant server
  • Pointing with your index finger
  • Slurping
  • Not wearing shoes in someone’s home
  • Stepping on the local currency
  • Showing your knees/shoulders
  • Using your left hand for things
  • Drinking alcohol/being drunk publicly
  • Women driving (I know, I know, not cool. But still a thing in the Middle East.)

The list goes on! Every country has its own unique culture, and you need to respect it even if you don’t agree with it. Check out Pinterest or just google “COUNTRY Culture and customs” to find out these tips.

You’re Ready To Go!

Now that you know the 7 deadly sins of international travel, you’re ready for your trip! Avoiding these sins will make you a better, more worldly traveler. just remember that traveling exposes us to different cultures and parts of life that we may not necessarily like. If you have questions, drop us a comment below!

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