This is Part 2 of our post on International Travel and the key things we have learned to do during travel to make it more enjoyable.
International Travel – To get the most from the local environment
6. Meet and be friendly to local people – Sometimes it seems uncomfortable to talk with the locals. It can feel intrusive especially when you don’t speak the language. If you don’t talk with them, you won’t know if they speak even a little English. Your International Travel will be much more pleasant when speaking to locals. People will be more willing to help you if you are friendly to them. During all of our International Travel, we found it very helpful to get to know some locals. When we had issues, we found locals who were quite willing to help us work them out. Locals helped with things as simple as getting a taxi and ensuring the driver understood where you were going. Assistance finding the right doctor when having a health issue was very helpful.
Key Point #6: Smile, say hello, ask how they are. Even if you don’t know the language, speak in English. Just being friendly will offer many opportunities. We were invited to many local events in one country and to a café where English is spoken in a Spanish speaking country. These experiences made our time there much more enjoyable.
7. Speak some of the local language – This is the best approach. For International Travel, I have always studied up on the language before going to a place where a different language is spoken – whether it is French, Spanish, Greek, German or something else. In a remote place on a Greek island, my little bit of Greek, my dictionary, and my friendliness got us an incredible room overlooking the Aegean Sea; the owner even brought us fresh eggs from her chickens every morning.
8. Food – You will enjoy the International Travel experience much more if you allow yourself to try and indulge in the local foods. Of course follow the recommendations on drinking the water and being sure things are fully cooked or washed in purified water. While I love seafood, and I love the sashimi, I learned that ceviche doesn’t agree with me. However, I am glad that I tried it.
International Travel provides an opportunity to try strange and wonderful fruits. The fruits from South America are definitely worth trying. I have tried to get some of them when back in the US. At home, I tend to stay away from potatoes. In South America, in the Andes where potatoes were apparently discovered, the variety is unlike anything I ever experienced. Trying the different potatoes is an experience for the taste buds, as is trying the different spices and sauces.
Also, I like when a local helps me order or orders for me (this was a great pleasure when eating seafood in Greece).
9. Safety – In most big cities whether during International Travel or in the US, it is important to be aware of the people around yo.Be careful of pick pockets in any crowded area. Keep your money in your front pocket with a hand over the pocket, or in an inside pocket.
Ladies, keep your pocketbook cross body, with your hand on the closure. So yes, make sure it has a closure. I have seen pick pockets lift ladies’ wallets right out of their bags and take off – and that was in the US.
In France, I felt my backpack being unzipped as I walked. I turned quickly, and I could not tell who was responsible. I was lucky that I put nothing valuable in the backpack, just a jacket and umbrella, which the thief didn’t want. Since then, in areas with lots of other people, I wear the pack on the front and put no valuables in it.
10. Get out of your comfort zone – Go places and take part in activities that you wouldn’t typically. Calmly look for the beauty or what is interesting and different during your International Travel.
I went hiking in a cloud forest. Although the trails were marked as easy to moderate, some were steep, wet, and muddy. I hiked them with my new hip even though I was fearful of falling. The return – the natural beauty was awe-inspiring. Standing at an outlook close to the top of the tree line and seeing the clouds roll in and fill the valley, watching the birds including many hummingbirds varieties, toucans, and seeing the orchids in the wild was an experience I am likely to never forget.
Transportation – Walk more than taking taxis – even on roads that you don’t know. Get your bearings and take in the new environment on foot. You will experience new cultures and places that you likely would never have otherwise. Explore – find sights, restaurants, cities or towns on your own. We took local buses which we were warned against yet found it easy to do. It was a great way to see the gorgeous mountains and volcanoes from the bus, and it broadened our experience of the local culture, plus built our confidence for our next excursion.
If you have any points to add, please share them! Happy Travels!