10 Things To Check Before Traveling
Traveling is an enjoyable thing to do. You get to see new places, taste new food, and try on new experiences, not to mention meeting new friends and learning new things. But it’s not just all fun. There are certainly a lot of things you have to bear in mind before you pack your bags and catch your flight. Even if you get the services of a travel agent, it’s not as if things will be a breeze.
You can be adventurous and leave everything to chance, but you might end up shivering on a cold day because you never bothered to check the weather. Or you have to spend a few hours and money buying things you should have brought with you if you just did a little research. You wouldn’t want to be a headache to your travel companions because you always had to borrow stuff from them, depend on them for info and resources, or divert from the plans, all because you didn’t do your part, right?
The thing is, you need to know a few pertinent things before you head to the airport. You may still survive being in a foreign place not knowing a thing or two, but it will definitely save you time and resources. Besides, not knowing certain information is no longer an excuse now that data can be found at the tip of your fingers. It will just take a little bit of effort clicking on a few websites that can provide you with some things you need to know beforehand. Read blogs that offer some tips for first-time travelers so you get to enjoy your trip more than worrying about it.
1. Visa requirements – There are countries that may welcome you visa-free, while there may be some that may require you to submit your documents before they allow you to travel to their territories. Make sure you secure all documents and present them when you apply for a visa. Financial documents are necessary to support your application, even for a tourist visa. Don’t forget to check your passport’s validity. AND, read thoroughly your ticket. Make sure you have noted the correct date and time, as well as the fine print, like inclusions and exclusions of the fare, and baggage allowance. (Read: First-time it happened: a trip I almost never made)
2. Time Zone – You have to know the time difference between your place and your destination. Note the time that are indicated in your tickets as they reflect the local time of your point of origin (for the ETD) and the local time of your point of destination (for the ETA). Once you arrive in the country you are visiting, adjust your watch to local time to avoid confusion. I had friends who did not do this so when we often go our own way and meet at a certain time, they get the time mixed up.
3. Weather and Temperature – Know the weather and temperature in the place you are going. This helps you plan the clothes you are about to bring. Twice I have done not checking the temperature in my destination and I ended up buying socks, gloves and other stuffs to help me ward off the cold. Scarves and shawls always come in handy, by the way, so put them in your travel bag as well. (Read: Prepare the Right Wear for Travel)
4. Currency Conversion – It is important to know the exchange rate so that you can track the cash you have at hand and the amount you need to be exchanged. Know the local rates of fares, meals, and other important items. Also, be aware of your country’s banking policies as you might need to inform your bank in advance before you leave the country. Otherwise, you might find yourself not being able to withdraw from the ATM.
5. Electric Socket – I also made a mistake of not checking this beforehand. Especially if you’ll be gone for more than a couple of days and you need to charge your mobile phone, tablet, laptop, digital camera, and other gadgets, you have to know what works in the place you are going. This is when you’ll find a universal adaptor useful.
6. Places of Interest – Of course, you need to check these out – from opening and closing hours to entrance fees and how to get there. Imagine yourself getting excited to go to museum only to find out that it’s closed because it’s a Monday. Or, I remember when I missed that free tour of the Walt Disney Hall in downtown LA by just 5 minutes, which was a disappointing experience.
7. Transport System – If you are not availing of organized tours and you want to explore the city on your own, knowing the subway system, transport cards, commute buses, hop-on hop-off buses, and other ways of getting from one place to another is something you need to study beforehand. When my friend and I was in Seoul, we bumped into two fellow Filipinas at a subway station as they were hurling their luggage with them. They asked us questions on which line they should take and where they should get off to get to their hostel. It would be a challenge if you can’t communicate with the locals as it will surely be a headache.
8. Local Language – Learn a few phrases in the local language. When I went to China the second time, I brought with me a print out of basic phrases written in their script. This was a lesson I learned because the first time I went to this country, I was wandering aimlessly with my friend in the middle of the night and in the middle of nowhere, asking for directions and no one couldn’t understand us. A phrase book would be fine but it is better if you practice saying basic phrases in the local language.
9. Taboos and other cultural information – Sometimes, we never check this out but there are cultures that are sensitive to locals and a gesture you make may already be offensive to them. If you are visiting a place of worship, research what is the appropriate outfit to don. Be conscious of what to ask as there may be questions that may not be openly discussed in a particular place. Take for example the royal family in Thailand, which are highly revered and loved, so the locals do not talk about them.
10. Read the News – Be on the know, especially on current events happening in the place. Just like when I went to this place that seemed to be in the brink of war, as played up by the media. But I checked with locals and everything was normal. That was risky, I know, but as I was following the news till the day I was about to leave, I knew it was safe for me to push through with my trip.
If you think there are other information that can be added to this list, please feel free to add through the comment section below. 🙂