8 Top Tips when Traveling Overseas
1. Driving Abroad – Your American driver’s license is valid in most European countries. However, some countries may also require an international license or permit. Check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles or automobile club for additional details on the laws in the countries you’ll be visiting.
2. Exchange Rates – You can find out current exchange rates at www.oanda.com. I consulted this website frequently prior to departing for New Zealand and Australia to see the spending advantage the US dollar had at this time over these two currencies. It really helps with budgeting too. Also, you can download a FREE phone app.
3. Tipping – Tipping policies can be confusing when traveling abroad. If in doubt, Ask! As a general rule, tips to local guides are usually covered on all-inclusive tours. On optional sightseeing excursions, it’s customary to tip the local guide and bus driver. It’s also routine to tip the tour director at the end of the tour if service warrants it. You don’t want to overpay but at the same time, you don’t want to be a cheapskate either.
4. Be Open to New Experiences - We had perfect timing while visiting Vigo, Spain on a port of call. We happened upon a festival, held only on Good Friday that featured local foods and entertainment, complete with costumes, marching bands and all sorts of interesting street vendors. We even got to see live octopus in barrels prior to be prepared into tapas. This port ended up being one of the highlights of our cruise.
5. Health Insurance – Find out what is covered by your health insurance policy if you get sick or injured while abroad. Purchase travel insurance from your travel agent for any gaps in coverage. Items probably not covered by your health care provider when out of the country include being airlifted out of the jungle or ground transportation to a larger, better-equipped hospital for more specialized care.
6. Mind Your Manners – Accept the customs of the country you’re visiting. Try not to judge. In some countries locals dress in attire that we think is strange or eat unusual foods. If you are traveling with children, explain these differences to them in advance. This lesson will help educate them about other cultures and keep you from being embarrassed by their inappropriate comments. Part of any vacation is escaping from your normal routines and learning about other ways of life. Plus remember . . . you’re in their country!
7. Shop like a Local - While “down under” I saw some really cool tennis shoes that are not sold in the US. I picked up a pair and have received several compliments due to the uniqueness. Local buyers purchase from different manufacturers so if you keep your eyes open you may be able to score some distinctive items that will make great gifts.
8. Do a bit of research – If you are traveling without the benefit of a tour guide or operator, be sure to check museum and shopping hours in advance. Also, check on the holidays in the countries you’ll be visiting. How disappointing to find attractions closed when for the past four months all you thought about was visiting them. Remember the old adage: They have a 4th of July in England, but it’s not a national holiday!Tags: Travel Tips