Half the battle of going on vacation is making it to your destination. For one thing, most of us aren’t clued in to the most effective way to plan ahead. Not to mention, once we get to where we’re going, it helps to have a few seasoned strategies up your sleeve to weather any surprises and make the most of your trip. Author and publisher of Live and Invest Overseas‘ Kathleen Peddicord, who’s traveled to over 50 countries and lived overseas for nearly two decades, is sharing 19 of her best strategies for travel – whether you’re jet-setting for the weekend or settling in on a permanent move. A true expert in traveling smart, Kathleen’s tips are ones you can’t afford to travel without.
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Take two debit cards and two credit cards
Kathleen cautions, "In today’s world, credit card companies are uber-sensitive. Break your usual pattern of card use and your card will be declined. Count on it. You need at least one backup."
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Do not use your debit card to pay for things when traveling abroad
A seasoned traveller, Kathleen warns that debit cards can be “easy targets for fraud.”
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If you’re travelling to a country where the language is not English, learn how to say the basic pleasantries in the local language
“—good morning, good evening, hello, good-bye, thank you, please, etc.” Knowing the basics can come in handy in countless situations while travelling, giving you a basic toolkit of terms to reach for as you need. Kathleen suggests the language app Duolingo.
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Carry a small amount of cash with you
The suggested amount, according to Kathleen, is $200 - $300; after which she advises getting more as you need it from ATM machines; a universally accessible cash-point during travels.
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Find out what your bank will charge you for using your ATM card overseas
Get informed ahead of time. Find a bank that offers no charges at ATM machines when you use their card and reimburses you for foreign bank fees.
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Buy a local SIM card upon arrival
A local number, access to translator apps and Google maps allow you to stay in touch and on-track while on the go. Most airports supply SIM card vendors to get you sorted before you get on your way.
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Look the part and avoid being the obvious target for tourist traps.
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Carry $50 in your shoe when going out at night
Kathleen suggests stashing this amount in your shoe so if the worst happens and you get robbed or happen to lose your wallet, you’ll have something on hand to pay for a cab back to wherever you’re staying.
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Don’t carry your passport with you
Kathleen says to instead carry a photocopy of your passport photo as well as a copy of the entry stamp pages, but never the document itself. This is the last document you want to lose while traveling abroad. Protect it at all costs.
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Know what it should cost for the taxi ride from the airport to your destination…
It should come as no surprise that services like taxis are not always pricing out trips in the best interest of the customer, and a tourist who has no clue of distance and local fare can make for an easy target. Ask around and get the going rates before agreeing to unfair quotes or final tallies.
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Stick with official taxis
Franchise companies you know of, or reputable local services only – be smart, stay safe and take precautions against sketchy businesses.
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Try to step away from the tourist zone
According to Kathleen, “Tourists pay the highest prices and get the worst service.”
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Walk with confidence and act like you know where you’re going
Walking in circles with your nose buried in a map is good way to advertise yourself as a tourist – and a great way to market yourself for potential scams. Walk with intention and confidence and if you need it, inquire about directions from local businesses or your hotel rather than strangers on the street.
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In today’s world, it can be a good idea to avoid protests and demonstrations
The world is a beautiful place, but it’s also become an incredibly volatile one when it comes to politics and the strong (and varied) opinions of others. Do yourself a favour and stick to areas that aren’t experiencing political tension or local spots favored for protests – it’s just not safe, or necessary.
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Avoid politics and political arguments
Exercise restraint and tact when making conversation with others while travelling. Much like the etiquette at home, topics like politics are best saved for the company of close friends, not new friends in areas where the politics have little to do with you.
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If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable for any reason, go to a public place
Wherever you’re headed, make note of the general major areas close by, so that should you need to find a public place in a hurry, you know which direction to head in.
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Be aware of the popular tourist scams in the place where you’re traveling
Most popular tourist destinations are infamous for at least one tourist scam – familiarize yourself online before your travels to avoid becoming another victim.
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Confirm whether you need a visa to visit the country for the time you intend to visit
Kathleen points out that, “an American needs a visa to travel to Brazil, for example, even as a tourist.” Do the research and avoid surprises.
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Find out if you’ll be required to pay an entry fee when entering the country
All part of the research you need to do before travelling, these fees often need to be paid in US currency or local hard currency and are required for entry at immigration.