Travelling overseas can be a wonderful experience. Not only can you experience another culture with its own language, history, and cuisine, overseas travel helps to put life at home into perspective, as well. Whether it’s a castle tour in Germany or visiting the rain forests of Brazil, traveling overseas can be a wonderful adventure.
Yet, when you’re doing it for the first time, you can wind up making some mistakes that can cost you big. Watch out for these travel mistakes if you’re planning on heading out of the country soon:
1. Exchange rate troubles. You need to be able to conduct business in the currency of the country in which you’ll be traveling. There are a number of convenient places to exchange your currency – such as airports and hotels. Unfortunately, you pay for the convenience. The exchange rates are worse – often much worse – at these locations. Your best bet is to do a little bit of research before you go, and perhaps even exchange your currency before you leave. In a worst case scenario, choose a major bank or an ATM in the destination country for more favorable rates.
2. Transaction fees. You can use your debit card or credit card overseas. In fact, the major credit card companies make a big deal about being accepted around the globe. What they don’t tell you is that there is usually a separate foreign transaction fee for each transaction that will add up to between 1% and 3% of the purchase amount. There are some cards that cater to travelers in particular that have decided to forego these fees.
3. Frozen accounts due to fraud alerts. The credit card companies do a decent job of detecting fraud. One of the things that may tip them off is credit card charges out of the country. Notify the issuer of your credit cards before you travel to let them know you’ll be out of the country, and to keep it from triggering a false alert.
4. Roaming telephone service. Your cell phone may get service in Abu Dhabi; chances are you’re going to pay major roaming charges, however. Talk to your cell phone provider about going onto an international plan when you’re travelling. Make sure to look into data as well as texting, and keep a tight reign on your usage so that you don’t go over.
5. Gathering all of your information from one source. A travel agent is a specialist in highlighting the good things about your trip. Right up until you board the plane, chances are they’re not going to say much that would dissuade you from going. That means sometimes important information gets left out. Likewise, the information you can get from the Internet may not contain all of the important things you need to know about your destination. Get your travel information from a variety of sources, which can include books, agents, the Internet, and even friends or family.
6. Failing to plan for health problems. There are some basic health issues you’re likely to face when traveling overseas. This might include things such as bringing a first aid kit, choosing the proper bug spray, or avoiding any beverages made with local water.
7. Not accounting for different technology. You’re probably aware that the current that comes from a wall outlet in Europe is different than the current that comes out of your outlet in the US. What you might not know is that you may need an adapter to connect your computer to a network, or that your five year-old cell phone might not be able to connect to the cellular network where you’re going. Do a little bit of research in these areas before you leave.
8. Staying on the beaten path. There’s nothing wrong with going on a planned tour, or using a travel service. Yet, you need to understand that many of the sights and sound on those types of tours are specifically designed for visitors. Take an afternoon to walk the streets without a guide, or ride the trolley across town just to get a different view.
9. Not having a language resource. If you don’t know the language in the destination country, you can still get by in most situations. Often, there’s someone who speaks English. However, for those moments when there isn’t, it’s handy to have at least a basic conversational understanding of the language, or perhaps a good translation dictionary.
A little bit of legwork ahead of time will save all sorts of headaches once you arrive in your overseas destination.
Magnus Hirst is a tour guide and Social Media Coordinator at IcelandicTravelMarket.is, a leading Iceland tours company specializing in bus tours, Iceland day tours, jeep tours, Iceland group travel, glacier walks, whale watching tours and more.