I really, really like to travel. I inherited this from my parents, who toured the globe before I was even born and (I suspect with a little regret) only settled down when I was born. But I have carried on the torch and hopped around the globe, and they’ve given me their international travel tips that helped them so much.
And while these travel tips have been amazing and nothing short of fantastic, I’ve come up with a few international travel tips of my own while journeying around the modern world that I think are worth sharing as well. So without further ado, here are my international travel tips for the 21st century!
1) Being “touristy” doesn’t mean it’s not cool
It used to be that if a spot was “touristy”, it wasn’t worth going to. That can still be true for some things- but really, in the age of the Internet, very little is truly off the beaten track anymore. Some of my favorite places have been scoffed at as “touristy”: Cologne Cathedral, the city of Sintra, and the Taj Mahal. Sometimes something becomes popular because it truly is breathtaking to behold!
2) Load up on podcasts for your adventure
You’ll be spending a lot of time traveling with no data plan. Books are heavy, and you won’t be able to access any international travel tips unless you cling to that Starbucks WiFi like a sailor in a shipwreck. But what you do have is space on your phone! Grab a few podcasts (indietravelpodcast.com is a great resource) and throw them on your phone.It’ll keep your appetite for adventure going, and you can use them to while away the time on the plane, train, tram, tuk-tuk, or whatever!
3) Turn off your GPS and stop planning
We’ve become a “must-see” culture: we go to a place and plan out the “must-sees”, rocketing from one to the other with nary a care for any of the unique and interesting things we pass, trying to figure out how many days we can fit in all the “must-sees”.
But the truth is very few things are must-sees. The “must-see” is almost always the culture itself: sitting at a cafe in Paris, whiling away the afternoon with wine and coffee with a book, can be just as much of a worthwhile endeavor as seeing the Louvre or Notre Dame. Don’t miss the forest for the trees!
4) Be Patient
We as Anglophones are cursed with that ever-present need for efficiency. Unfortunately (or fortunately) much the rest of the world is not nearly so concerned with things like being on time or having a sane public transport schedule. Be prepared to miss trains, buses, and appointments and to be okay with that fact. Of all the international travel tips I can gave you, this one will probably save you the most heartache!
5) Back everything up to the cloud
Thankfully theft is getting rarer and rarer nowadays, but it still happens. One of the hardest, most painful experiences I ever had was having my backpack stolen on a train from Brussels to Cologne- laptop, external hard drive, passport, everything. I had backed up my photos… to my external hard drive. I lost not just months, but years of photos.
But we live in the modern world now, and you can get insanely cheap cloud backup storage from places like Backblaze or CrashPlan. If any of my international travel tips come from the heart, this one does. Don’t go through what I went through- get those backup solutions, and sync with them whenever you have free WiFi (like at that Starbucks you’re afraid to leave).
So those are my top international travel tips that I’ve learned traveling in the good ol’ 21st century. I hope I have many more to come in my experience abroad, and that one day when I have kids I can pass down my slightly outdated knowledge to them!
What are your favorite modern international travel tips? Share ’em in the comments!