Traveling is not something that should be taken for granted. It is a privilege to be able to experience another country and especially its people and nature, and so following specific guidelines when doing so is crucial. Many people go to new countries with all sorts of preconceptions, which is disrespectful and ignorant, to say the least. Still, here are some rules that you should follow to a T whenever you are lucky enough to go abroad, no matter the purpose.
1. Learn the language
It is only courteous to learn a couple of basic phrases whenever you travel somewhere new, even if the country is known for its high English level. After all, you would get annoyed if someone from abroad and spoke to you in their first language without any warning that they were about to do so. It is both inconsiderate and rude to force someone to accommodate you, so at least learn to say, “Do you speak English?” wherever you are. Other helpful phrases to pick up are, “Where is the restroom?” “Thank you” and “Do you know a good X (restaurant, bar, club…) in the area.”
2. Eat locally
The best thing about traveling somewhere new is getting to know their culinary culture, so be sure to take advantage of all things food whenever you head across the border. That doesn’t mean spending too much money at restaurants explicitly catered to tourists, instead try local hole in the walls for tasty eats while rubbing shoulders with people who can give you the best tips about your next stop. Don’t even think about heading towards fast-food chains and kebab places unless you’re in Berlin (for kebabs at least) or there’s absolutely nothing else to eat. Who knows, maybe you’ll develop a fondness of a dish you never knew existed.
3. Be humble
Humility differs greatly when it comes to traveling than anything else. For some reason, being outside of your home country seems to make even the most modest person turn into a major brag. For your own sake and the sake of others, try as hard as you can not to be obnoxious when someone asks you how many places you’ve been. And for goodness sake, don’t start listing them out, because honestly, no one cares except you. Instead, practice saying things like, “Oh, a few, Prague is amazing” and leave it at that. Your conversation partner is now left with the option of finding out more instead of you bombarding them with useless country names.
4. Stop complaining
Seriously. Part of traveling is being inconvenienced at times, be it because you got lost, because you got sunstroke, or because your tablet got stolen. These are perfectly normal things to deal with whenever you leave the country, so its best to get used to it instead of making everyone miserable because of it. As they say, misery loves company, so getting to the point where you’re finding yourself whining to every single person who crosses your path will just bring everyone down, who will then hate you for it.
5. No regrets
This is more of a lesson for life, but regretting your travels is not the way to remember them. Even if you had a lousy time in Bali, there is sure to be one or two good memories that are worth bringing home. At the same time, regretting having gone to the Statue of Liberty but not to the Highline is absurd. Any place you go has the potential to be an incredible experience, even if it isn’t first in the guidebook.