Using common sense while traveling
When we travel, we’re amazed at the number of people who have lack common sense. Common sense while traveling is essential. There’s nothing more embarrassing for anyone, than to see people from their own country “acting out” while they’re in another country.
So to use that all too familiar phrase they use during airline safety demonstrations, “To reinforce what you already know…….”
- When you’re in a different country, YOU’RE A GUEST. Things will be different. Things will not be the same as they are at home. Get over it and get used to it. Think about how you’d like a guest to act when they came into your home. Be courteous. Be patient. Be humble.
- Not everyone speaks English. Get over it. Believe it or not there are other languages in the world. Talking louder in your native language, does not make the other person understand it. Learn simple, basic phrases in the language of the country you’re visiting. Take a phrase book with you. You’ll be amazed at how much good will and kindness you’ll receive just by making the tiniest effort.
- Readjust your concept of time. The US and UK are probably two of the most “punctual” places on the planet. That’s two of 195 countries. In many other places, things operate on “local time”. Adjust. 2PM in Mexico, means sometime between 1-3PM. Don’t sweat it. It will all work out. On the other hand, turn up at a Swiss train station 2 minutes late for a train and your dead in the water.
- Ask questions. You’re not at home, so don’t assume. If you’re in a different country, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Do buses here run on time? Do restaurants serve dinner before 8PM?
- Be patient. When things don’t go quite as expected, take a breath. Don’t react. Just take a breath. All will be right with the world. Clear your head and take a moment. Things will work out.
- Blend in. When we go to different countries, we like to blend in. We want to be part of the culture. When you stick out like a sore thumb, you’ll attract attention. You’ll be a “tourist”. Trust me, no one wants to be a “tourist”. Dress like a local. Behave like a local. You’ll have a much better time.
- Travel light. The days of taking steamer trunks on overseas trips has long subsided. You can travel light. Really, you can. Take only what you need. Leave the expensive jewelry at home. Really, no one will notice and you’ll be a lot less likely to be a target for theft. And, remember, vehicles are awfully small in some countries, so you’re luggage might not fit in that taxi or there might not be enough space in your hotel room to keep it.
- Not every country runs on the US Dollar or the Euro. Almost every trip we go on, there’s always someone trying to use US Dollars or Euro’s to pay for something. It may work in airports, but get out into the hinterland and it’s a different story. Make an effort to get local currency.
- What, they don’t take credit cards? Once again, believe it or not, not every place in the universe takes credit cards. Make sure you have some cash in local currency to get you by just in case.
- Be nice to the Customs people. You should always be nice. It amazes the people who raise their voice or are rude to Customs Officers when entering a country or returning home from vacation. These people control your destiny at that moment in time. They say “You’re in” or “You’re out”. You don’t want to be “out”.
- Keep your kids contained. Kids in the US have a lot of freedom. (Maybe too much freedom). We can go to any airport in almost any country and about100% of the time point out children from the US. Their the ones running unsupervised, being unruly, loud or obnoxious. If you’re traveling with children, make sure they know “the rules of the road”.
- Be safe. Use your sixth sense. Those “feelings” are usually correct. If something doesn’t feel right or look right, it probably isn’t it. Don’t put yourself in a situation that you can’t get out of.
- Don’t be obnoxious. No one likes an obnoxious person, especially an obnoxious tourist. See #1. You’re a guest.
If you keep your wits about you, use common sense and a large dose of patience, you’ll be just fine.
Last modified: January 5, 2014