There is nothing more stressful than being out of your element and dealing with problems. Throw in being in a foreign country and all the problems seem to multiply. There are a few common problems that stand out and I want to share some solutions to dealing with them. Keep reading to limit the stress on your next trip.
Damaged or Lost luggage
This is something I have experienced a couple times. My biggest tip is something I suggest doing with all international travel. Invest in travel insurance. Many times it’s under $100 per person. When you think of all the ways it can cover you in an emergency, it really is worth it. I’ve used AIG Travel Guard for a number of years and have been very happy with them. They don’t just replace your damaged or lost luggage. Depending on your plan you can also receive medical care as well as emergency evacuation in the case of a serious emergency.
When packing, don’t pack valuables in your checked luggage. Carry your most valuables as well as a change of clothes with you in your carry-on. If you’re unsure of the difference between checked luggage and carry-on luggage, see my air travel glossary post where I break down common travel terms.
You don’t need to know every single word of your destination’s language. Learn a simple hello, thank you and please. It shows that you have an interest in the people and respect for their culture. That you’re not just visiting their country to get the best photos for Instagram.
In the 21st century it’s very difficult to go to a foreign country without being able to learn at least one word of the language. Just ask Google. Then there is always downloading an app that can teach you a few key phrases. Not all countries have signs in romanized (the alphabet English is written in) letters. There are apps that translate signs in real life as well. Another idea is to purchase a pocket dictionary.
There are many apps to use. Many people use Google Maps. I learned the hard way that Google Maps doesn’t work flawlessly in every country. Research which GPS apps work best in the country you will be traveling to.
You may still get lost though. Have the address to where you are staying written in the local language. Many hotels have business cards you can take for this very purpose. Now you can easily show it to your cab driver or anyone else that needs to know where you are staying.
It also doesn’t hurt to have the address of the local embassy for your country.
Change of plans due to weather
Unexpected weather changes can always change your plans. Especially when you’re not prepared. I was stranded in Atlanta, GA during Hurricane Sandy. The weather should have been quite warm during that time. Absolutely nothing storm-related happened in Atlanta. However, the weather became extremely cold unexpectedly. I hadn’t packed any cold weather clothing.
Pack some layering items like light cardigans that you can add to outfits. They are also perfect to wear if it gets a little chilly on the plane. Also pack a small travel-size umbrella.
Getting sick from food
This is something that can definitely happen when you are eating new foods. The foods may also be prepared under conditions different from your home country.
Getting ripped off
Some currencies are easier than others to convert in your head. 3,000₩ Korean won is approximately $3.00 USD. That was pretty easy to calculate. $75 Hong Kong is approximately $9 USD. That was not so easy to convert. Research the currency before hand as well as use sites like TripAdvisor to see what other travelers have paid for similar items in your destination.
Download a money converter app. You’ll be able to instantly compare and decide if the price is fair. I’ve used the Easy Currency Converter created by ExtraAndroary and found it to be very helpful and easy to use.
Ten years ago lack of wifi would not have been an issue. I would email my family and friends using the computer at the hotel’s business center. Things have definitely changed.
I suggest renting a wifi egg if available. This allows you to carry the wifi with you anywhere you go. Many hotels will loan you one. You will just need to provide a deposit.
Another option is to screenshot your directions while you have wifi and use the screen shots to get to your destination. This has worked for me on a few occasions.
What other problems have you encountered? Were you able to solve them? What do you recommend? I’d love to hear your stories.