5 Cardinal Rules to Traveling Abroad

There are some places that every person dreams of flying to once they figure out how to pay for the plane ticket. There’s Cancun for Spring Break; Amsterdam for the ‘brownies’; Germany for the beer; and tropical paradises like Ibiza for the babes. Fly to Amsterdam and you will spend at least a good ten hours crammed into a tiny seat; Ibiza, at least 14 hours; even Cancun can mean anywhere from 5 to 10 hours in an airport or airplane seat. So while the eventual destination will totally rock once you get there, it’s the journey there that seems as if it must inevitably suck. Fear not international traveler! Keep a few simple rules in mind and your journey can actually be as cool as the destination itself.
The Preparation Rule– there is nothing that sucks more than getting kicked off your flight before you even get there. Forget your passport and that can happen. However, don’t just stick your passport in your travel bag and forget it. Be sure that the information on it is correct. If you happen to have changed your name for any reason make sure you changed your passport as well. The airline will not care that you got married or got drunk watching Superbad and changed it to McLovin. Your ticket has to match your license which will have to match your passport.
Comfort is King Rule– getting embarrassed at the ticket counter is one thing, but wearing a suit you thought would look cool, even though the wool pants itch like mad, will make the first leg of your vacation suck about as much as the Michael Vick documentary on BET. You are going to be in a cramped seat for the better part of a day; if you have really cool pajamas, wear them. Foreign chicks will think its some crazy, new American fashion.
The Knowing is Half the Battle Rule– the statement worked for G.I. Joe at the end of every cartoon, and it works when traveling abroad too. Nothing acts like a buzz kill more than landing at your destination only to find that the local police force is restricting all Americans to their hotel until the insurgents are put down. Be sure and check out the Consular Information Sheets and Public Announcements or Travel Warnings for your destination.
The Less is More Rule– we all want to look great on vacation, have fresh breath, fix our hair, and have all around good hygiene. However, carrying certain things onto the plane can be more trouble than it is worth. Buy travel sized toiletries when you get where you are going; many hotels will have complimentary ones. Only pack the clothes you absolutely need as well. Yes, deciding what super cool Hawaiian shirt you want to wear on your third night can be hard, but just man up, and make a call.
The Don’t be a Dumbo Rule– there is a reason why some countries hate Americans. Many of us tend to act like obnoxious jerks when we visit other countries, often forgetting (or not even caring) to recognize cultural and societal differences. What better way to make yourself a prime target for crime?! Enjoy yourself wherever you go, but be respectful of those around you and the country that you are in. Just saying that you are an American does not mean a thing when they are throwing you in a Turkish or Mexican jail. Be cool and don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself.

9 thoughts on “5 Cardinal Rules to Traveling Abroad”

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  2. Ok list. I'd like to add the following though:
    5a. Learn at least a few phrases in the local language. It will mean more to the locals than you'd ever imagine. Impressions can mean a world of difference.
    6. Make two photocopies of your passport. Keep one with you separate from your passport. Give the other to a family member or friend back home. If you lose your passport you'll still have some trouble, but nowhere near as much.
    7. Do some homework before you travel. Get online and learn the city and places you'd like to visit. You'll be amazed how much time this will save, and how many more things you'll be able to do.

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