11 Study Abroad Tips you’re not likely to find elsewhere:
1. Drink the water! Drink plenty of water on your flight and once overseas – purified/bottled of course. Dehydration is the most common reason for sickness abroad.
2. Check the outlets. You probably won’t need a voltage converter for your phone or computer, but you might consider taking a mini surge protector and a plug adapter. Check online to see what the electrical outlets will look like where you are going, and make sure your mini surge protector covers 220v, if you’ll need it!
3. Most people are the same everywhere – they’re nice! Keep in mind the culture where you’re going will be both similar and different to yours. For example, touching children on the head, stepping over people, tossing things instead of handing them, and aiming the soles of your feet at people in Thailand and much of SE Asia is considered rude.
4. You only need to learn one phrase in the local language to get a smile: “Thank You!” But, learn a few additional phrases by picking up a guidebook or listening to some podcasts before you go, and you’re likely to make more friends. Seriously, just spend an hour and do it. You’ll be happy you did, and the others on your trip will ask you how you said that. Proceeds from AEA phrasebooks go toward AEA scholarships.
5. Don’t bother with a local SIM card if you have Tmobile’s Simple Choice Plan, which includes free texting and Internet in 120 counties! If you want a local number to make lots of local calls, buy a local SIM card to save on local/long distance calling, texting, and affordable internet (usually). If you take your own phone, get it unlocked here or there. Either way, a local SIM will usually have 3G or 4G, so you can always be online if you must.
6. Make sure you have good international health coverage with evacuation. Not all the plans are the same, but prices are similar. Look for one with lots of (or unlimited) medical coverage just in case. Or AEA can get it for you.
7. Don’t take copies of important documents with you. Instead, leave copies of all of your important documents – including credit cards, front and back – in a password protected document in your dropbox or as photos in your phone (with password on your phone).
8. Most places in the world are at least as safe as the US, but petty crime like pickpockets and bag/phone snatching might be more common. Be aware of your surroundings, don’t leave your phone or wallet on a table, and be extra alert when handling those items in public.
9. Rent a GoPro. Don’t own a GoPro and don’t want to buy one, but would like to take one with you? Consider renting one from www.Ayoopa.com and share the cost with a friend or two. Same for luggage, backpacks, smartphones and other outdoor gear.
10. Overpack! Just kidding! Leave that giant shampoo bottle at home. You’re going to want to buy things where you’re going. Not to mention, there are often lower luggage restrictions on overseas carriers that may require you lighten the load anyway. Plus, you can do laundry and buy extra supplies when you get there. Take one medium checked bag and keep it to less than 25 lbs.
11. Be generous. Plan ahead and take extra cash for tips. Keep in mind your waiter, bell hop, guide or driver could make $100 per month or much less, depending where you are going. In many places you go, people may not have a camera or cannot afford to print photos of themselves. If you take someone’s photo, offer to give or mail them a copy. Photo shops are often aplenty in many countries.
# 10 Prepare your travel documents well in advance. Don’t wait until the last minute to research requirements and make necessary arrangements. Whether you only need an ID and an e-ticket or a new passport and a complicated visa, prepare in advance and you won’t be scrambling and stressed – or worse, stuck – on your day of departure.
# 9 Fly on a holiday. There are often less lines and lower fares if you choose to travel on the actual holidays.
# 8 Depart early in the day or late at night. The early bird – or night owl, as the case may be – gets the flight. There are often less people and shorter lines in the wee hours, and if you choose an early flight, you have a better chance of departing on time and still making it to your destination in the event that there are delays.
# 7 Bring snacks and entertainment. Save money and your sanity by carrying a few of your favorite things. You can avoid exorbitant airport prices and prevent becoming another hangry (hungry + angry) holiday traveler.
# 6 Don’t check your bag. If you can pack lightly and keep the essentials contained to your carry-on, you will save time – at check in and upon arrival. You will also eliminate the risk of your bag being lost in transit.
# 5 If you must check a bag, keep a change of clothes, some must-haves, and medications in your carry-on. Everyone’s list of essentials may vary, but we recommend a clean outfit and undergarments, a toothbrush and toothpaste, moisturizer, medications, eye drops, and hand sanitizer at minimum. Be sure to keep your liquids (under 3.4 ounces each) in a quart-sized, clear, plastic bag to comply with TSA requirements.
# 4 Plan to wrap presents when you arrive or ship them to your destination. And you won’t have to worry about wrapping them twice if TSA asks to see what’s inside.
# 3 Stay hydrated and carry a reusable water bottle. One of the most common – and easily avoidable – causes of traveler’s illness is dehydration. Drink plenty of water the night before your journey and bring along an empty bottle. Fill it after you pass through security, to stay hydrated and avoid excessive airport prices.
# 2 Stretch and move. Get exercise where you can. If you are able to, take the stairs instead of the escalator, stand up and stretch your legs when safe to do so during the flight, and use your layover time to wander around instead of sitting down. A little activity goes a long way in keeping your blood flowing, your spirits up, and swelling down.
# 1 Don’t leave your smile and sense of humor at home. No one enjoys the long lines, overbooked flights, fickle weather, unexpected delays, and cancelations that can come with holiday travel. But everyone can benefit from a positive attitude and a good laugh.
What are your top tips for holiday travel? Share them in the comments section below.