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What Not To Do When Traveling Abroad: The Ultimate Guide

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Traveling abroad can be an exciting and enriching experience, but it can also be stressful if you’re not properly prepared. From language barriers to cultural differences, navigating a foreign country can be overwhelming. However, with a little bit of planning and a few simple tips, you can avoid some of the common pitfalls and enjoy a stress-free trip. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the top things to avoid when traveling abroad so you can focus on soaking up your destination’s sights, sounds, and flavors. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-timer, these tips will help you make the most of your journey and come home with memories that will last a lifetime. So, grab your passport, and let’s get started!

Common Mistakes Travelers Make

Traveling abroad can be a life-changing experience, but it can also be fraught with challenges and pitfalls if you don’t plan ahead. Before you pack your bags and head out on your adventure, it’s essential to do some research and avoid some common mistakes. Here are some things to keep in mind. I’ve made many of these blunders as I have learned these tips and tricks through experience. 

Not researching the destination beforehand

Person Opening a Map on the Floor knowing what not to do when traveling abroad

One of the biggest mistakes when traveling abroad is not researching their destination beforehand. It’s essential to know the culture, customs, and laws of the country you’re visiting. 

Find out if there are any local customs you should be aware of, such as dress codes, tipping practices, and hand gestures. Additionally, research the local currency, exchange rates, and the cost of living in the country you’re visiting. This information can help you budget your trip and avoid overspending. Consulting travel advisory websites is crucial to ensure you are well-prepared for your trip.

Here are the top 3 travel advisory websites based on the search results:

  1. Travel.State.Gov: Travel.State.Gov is the official website of the United States Department of State and provides travel advisories for U.S. citizens traveling abroad. The website offers a Worldwide Caution, which provides general information regarding terrorist activities, political violence, and criminal activity that occur abroad, as well as specific recommendations on how to prepare for possible contingencies1. The website also provides country-specific information, including travel advisories, entry/exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, transportation, and other relevant topics6.
  2. Culture Smart!: Culture Smart! offers culture, customs, and etiquette travel guides published by Kuperard5. These guides provide information on the culture, customs, and etiquette of various countries around the world, which can be helpful for travelers who want to learn about the local customs and avoid cultural faux pas.
  3. Investopedia: Investopedia provides a list of the best travel insurance companies, which can be helpful for travelers who want to protect themselves against unexpected events while traveling. The website rates the companies based on coverage options, customer service, and pricing.

Overpacking or underpacking

Woman Packing for Vacation traveling abroad

Another common mistake that travelers make is either overpacking or underpacking. Overpacking can be a hassle, as you’ll have to lug around heavy bags, pay extra baggage fees, and risk losing your belongings. On the other hand, underpacking can leave you without essential items that you need. To avoid these problems:

  1. Make a packing list and stick to it.
  2. Prioritize the things you need and leave behind anything that’s not essential.
  3. Check the weather forecast for your destination and pack accordingly.

Want to learn how to pack efficiently, read The Ultimate Guide to Minimalist Packing

Not informing banks and credit card companies of travel plans

If you’re planning to use your credit cards or ATM cards while traveling abroad, it’s essential to inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans. Not informing your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans may result in freezing your accounts due to suspicious activity, which will leave you without access to your funds. Informing your bank and credit card company of your travel plans can prevent this and ensure you can access your funds while traveling.

Cultural Awareness

Two Friends Talking to Each Other while Holding Plastic Bottles

Cultural awareness is crucial when traveling abroad. Knowing local customs, etiquette, and laws can help avoid misunderstandings and embarrassing situations. Here are some cultural awareness tips to keep in mind:

Not learning basic phrases in the local language

Learning a few basic phrases in the local language can go a long way in making your trip more enjoyable. Phrases such as “hello,” “thank you,” and “where is the bathroom” can help you communicate with locals and show that you’re making an effort to understand their culture. Additionally, learning how to ask for help or directions in case you get lost or need assistance is a good idea. I have experienced a barrier when I went to countries without knowing the language and encountered responses like “No English.” So it’s very important to know some basic phrases to navigate and find someone who DOES understand you.

Not being aware of local customs and etiquette

Each country has its own customs and etiquette, and it’s essential to be aware of them when traveling abroad. For example, in some cultures, it’s considered impolite to point with your finger or show the soles of your feet. In others, removing your shoes before entering someone’s home is customary. Researching the local customs and etiquette can help you avoid unintentional faux pas and show respect for the culture you’re visiting.

Here are two websites where you can get local customs and etiquette worldwide:

  1. Commisceo Global: Commisceo Global offers free guides on the culture, customs, people, language, beliefs, etiquette, and business practices of over 80 countries worldwide. These guides are ideal for anyone visiting a foreign country for the first time, whether for business or pleasure. Commisceo Global is an expert in culture and does not intend to stereotype or pigeonhole any culture or people.
  2. TripSavvy: TripSavvy provides culture and customs guides for foreign countries, which can serve as great primers for frequent travelers, providing context for various local traditions. These guides cover topics such as greetings, communication, dress, dining, and social customs. TripSavvy also offers travel tips and advice for various destinations around the world.

Not having Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is essential when traveling abroad. It can protect you in case of medical emergencies, theft, and trip cancellations. Without travel insurance, you risk incurring significant expenses if something goes wrong during your trip. Make sure to purchase travel insurance before leaving on your trip to give you peace of mind while traveling.

Travel Insurance Recommendations

Below are three suggestions for international travel insurance based on the search results:

  1. Allianz Travel Insurance: Rated as the best overall travel insurance company by Investopedia6. Recommended by NerdWallet2 and US News & World Report3. Allianz offers comprehensive coverage for international travel, including emergency medical care and trip cancellation/interruption coverage3
  2. World Nomads Travel Insurance: World Nomads is recommended by NerdWallet2 and US News & World Report3. They are known for itheir comprehensive international travel insurance plans, which include coverage for adventure activities such as trekking, mountain biking, and scuba diving2
  3. Trawick International: Recommended by Forbes Advisor1. Trawick is known for its rental car coverage, making it a good choice for travelers who plan to rent a car during their trip. Trawick International also offers travel medical insurance as a stand-alone plan or as part of a larger travel insurance package1

Safety and Flexibility

Close-Up Shot of Bills - common scams

Safety and flexibility are two essential components of stress-free international travel. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Not being cautious of scams and pickpocketing

Scams and pickpocketing are common in tourist areas, and it’s essential to be aware of them when traveling abroad. Keep an eye on your valuables and be wary of anyone approaching you with offers that seem too good to be true. Additionally, be cautious of strangers trying to distract or get too close to you. These are common tactics used by pickpockets and thieves.

5 Common Travel Scams

Here are five common travel scams that you should be aware of:

1. The sauce trick: A scammer spills a sauce-like substance on you, then offers to help clean it up while an accomplice steals your belongings[1].

2. Money changing: A scammer offers to exchange your money at a favorable rate but gives you counterfeit bills or shortchanges you[1].

3. Dodgy tours: A tour operator promises a great experience but delivers a subpar or nonexistent one[1].

4. Taxi and tuk-tuk scams: A driver takes you on a longer route or charges an inflated fare[1].

5. Ticket scams: A scammer sells you a fake or invalid ticket to a popular attraction or event[1].

Other common travel scams include fake cops, rental scams, bar scams, and the bump and grab. Avoid falling victim to these scams, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings, keep your valuables secure, and research the common scams in the area you’re visiting.

Not being flexible with Plans

Flexibility is crucial when traveling abroad. Plans can change unexpectedly due to weather, transportation delays, or unforeseen circumstances. Being flexible with your plans can help you avoid stress and frustration when things are unplanned. Being open to new experiences and opportunities can make your trip more enjoyable and memorable.

Conclusion and Final Tips to Avoid What Not To Do When Traveling Abroad

Traveling abroad can be a life-changing experience but also stressful if you’re not properly prepared. By avoiding these common mistakes and remembering these tips, you can have a stress-free trip and make the most of your journey. 

Remember to research your destination, pack wisely, inform your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans, learn basic phrases in the local language, be aware of local customs and etiquette, purchase travel insurance, be cautious of scams and pickpocketing, and be flexible with your plans. By doing so, you can have a safe, enjoyable, and unforgettable trip that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Bon voyage!

Citations:

[1] https://www.worldnomads.com/travel-safety/worldwide/travel-scams-101

[2] https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/theft-scams/tourist-scams

[3] https://www.insuremytrip.com/travel-advice/travel-safety/common-travel-scams-to-avoid/

[4] https://expertvagabond.com/common-travel-scams/

[5] https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/avoid-scams-when-you-travel

[6] https://www.forbes.com/sites/geoffwhitmore/2022/10/02/8-common-travel-scams-to-be-aware-of/?sh=24a6308430bd


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