As we get bugged by the attraction of the travelling solo or taking a family vacation, the idea germinates and pulls us with promise of new adventures in far away lands , new places to go, new destinations to tread, new things to experience and new food to taste. Ultimately we decide to temporarily hang up our work-boots for a couple of weeks and take the plunge ? A few days in a warm island, or some road trip across unknown geographiesor a solo backpack trek into the deep jungles? A vacation to some other exotic country? The point that you are still reading, means that you also do get bugged at times by this wonderful bug called “wanderlust”.
Below are a few quick points to be aware about while you work out a travel or a vacation plan to a remote country. These are some quick Tips For International Travel which should help you in getting prepared for the vacation.
1. Geo political basics of your destination:
Location and Demographics: The first thing you have to do for any international travel is to know more and more about the place you are scheduled to visit. Where is it located.? Which are the major states/provinces?
Political : What kind of a government does it have. Does it have a monarchy ( Brunei) or a democratic government (India) or a communist government (Cuba). Does it recognize human rights ? Is it a religious state especially an Islamic country (Saudi Arabia)? Does the country have political instability (Pakistan or Syria) ? Are there ethnic fights (Yemen)? Is it in the safe travel list of your country ?
Society : is it socially safe? Does it have ethnic/religious discord amongst its people like Myanmar, Sri Lanka or Indonesia? Is it safe for tourists? And if you are a westerner, check it twice. With quite a few untoward incidents happening the world over in the last month or so, Travel has become a thing of worry, and safe travel is becoming a thing of the past. But , like every incidents in the past where the travellers have returned back ina few months, let us hope we will see good days for travel soon.
2. Climatic conditions:
Climatic conditions has a lot of influence on your travel routes or on the things that you need to pack. Try to learn about the climatic conditions prevailing during the time of visit at your destination. Colder climates would mean packing your luggage with more woolen and warm clothing. Warmer or seaside climate means mostly Tees and light coloured clothing. In case you are travelling to the middle east , pack some sun screen lotion too. If it is london, keep an umbrella. So it is imperative that you know the expected climate and temperatures for that location.
3. Culture and Society : Dress habits.
Some countries have very orthodox cultures and expects to impose the same to all citizens and residents or even travelers who come to their country. The best example of this would be Saudi Arabia. They do not tolerate any deterrence from the rules and cultures they have and would like you to observe while on their soil. Women must be fully covered from top of their heads to toes. No movies or liquor anywhere in their country. Violation brings strict punishment even leading to public beheading. Some other countries which though they have orthodox cultures are not of an imposing nature. An example is Japan which has very conservative and strict way of life but they do not impose it upon foreigner or travelers. So before you embark on your trip it is very essential to know the cultures and the practices of the society of the country that you would be visiting.
Other societies are more open and tolerant. So though they may not like the way a westerner conducts oneself, and may frown upon, still it tries to take it into ones stride. In some countries , a boy and a boy can go hand in hand while a boy and a girl cannot. An example is India. Though sex sex friendships are more open ( and they do not lead to sex) , opposite sex friendships are frowned upon at most non-metro locatins within the country. So try to be aware and updated on the cultures, habits prevailing in the planned destination and be ready to adhere.
Try to know the main language or languages that are spoken and the areas where they are spoken. In many countries it is usually one or two languages which are spoken and a little idea of one of them would sail you through. You would find that in almost all British colonies English would be fine, so would be French for French colonies. In most south American countries Spanish does the trick. But in some countries, there are a lot of languages spoken and it changes with every state/ region or province you travel A fine example is India which has about 17 popular languages along with Hindi which is their national language and about 53 dialects. So for most countries, you can keep a language /translation book handy and it is better to know the basic questions and the basic cordialities. Chinese has two versions of dialect. Arabic with local accents is prevailing in the middle east.
5. Food habits :
Learn the basic food habits of your destination country. In most countries sandwiches and juice/milk/cereals are available for your basic nourishment. Learn about the cooking techniques used. Countries in the far east would predominantly be light cooked food with steamed food being more more in vogue. China has a history of serving snakes and scorpions as delicacies, if you care for it. The orientals are also heard of serving monkey brains too. India serves one of the most spicy food of the world, and so does Mexico. But the difference probably is that Mexican food are terribly hot, while Indian ones are moderately hot.Middle east serves grilled and smoked food. Russia serves vodka during daytime. Italians serves wine for lunches. For Italians thin crust Pizzas and Carbonaras with wine is a regular menu item, while eggs are considered Vegetarian in most of Europe. So it is always better to know the local food habits. Identify some local food which might be fine with you or you would like to taste while in your visit. Keep some basic digestive pills handy before you do so. And always drink safe bottled water when you are a foreigner.
Zooming on to the location of travel , it is always better to know the common modes of travel available in the region. Can you rent a car there? Is the driving licence you have recognized in that particular country? How far would you need to travel for sight seeing? Where is the closest airport terminal or the local rail station? Does it have public transport? Is it safe for tourists to avail them? What are the chances of getting mugged or pick pocketed in the streets? My advice is don’t take your chances when a foreign country and play it safe.
You can also check my article on “Tips for cheaper air travel here.”
Thanks for reading this post. Comments are highly appreciated.
Will soon have an article on what to pack in your travelbags !!!