Faux Pas Abroad: Five Mistakes People Make When Traveling Abroad

Tuesday, October 1, 2013



According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), 1 billion people traveled to different countries in 2012, the largest amount ever recorded.  The UNTWO found that Europe is the most popular international destination for people in 2012, more than 500 million travelers visited the continent to stay in villas for rent in Tuscany, see Paris, and experience European culture.  Millions of people choose to visit other continents and regions around the world, and travel numbers are only expected to increase from here.  In a world where you can find adventure in a different country after only a few hours of travel, international tourism is more popular than ever.  People love to travel, but sometimes they make simple mistakes that end up causing a lot of problems.  If you’re planning on heading abroad soon, don’t commit any of these common travel mistakes.


Cell phones have become an integral part of every life, but when you go abroad your phone may not work like how you’re used to.  Before you travel to a different country, contact your provider and ask them about service in the country you’re visiting.  Mobile phone networks differ from country to country, and your phone may not be compatible with the networks in your vacation destination.  In some cases you may be able to receive texts and not make calls, or you may be able to make calls and be unable to receive them.  You should also be sure to ask about roaming rates.  Many cellphone plans don’t cover usage abroad, and making one call or receiving one text could cost you a significant amount of money.  If roaming fees do apply, you may be better off taking a vacation from your cell phone when you’re abroad.


Getting a passport isn’t like walking into the DMV and getting a license.  Passport processing time can take anywhere from four to six weeks, and that’s assuming that the process goes well and that there aren’t any issues.  There’s also the issue of international passport laws.  Some countries require tourists to have a passport that has been valid for at least six months from the planned date of arrival.  If you don’t already have a passport, start the application process as soon as you know you’re going to be traveling abroad.  Also check out the passport laws in your vacation destination to ensure that you’re in compliance.


Most banks have various systems in place to protect their clients from fraud and robbery, and almost all of them closely monitor the client’s accounts for suspicious activity.  If your bank is used to seeing charges being made in Poughkeepsie, New York, and suddenly sees a lot of account activity from Thailand, they’re going to assume that your account information was stolen and will freeze your account.   If that happens you’ll be stuck abroad with no access to your funds, and you’ll spend days trying to correct their bank’s mistake.  Do yourself a favor and contact your bank before you travel to let them know that you’ll be traveling to another country.


So many people make the mistake of not learning about the currency exchange rate for the country they’re visiting.  Some local vendors try to take advantage of tourists by charging them more for goods and services because they know that the customer won’t know they’re being cheated.  Take a five minute lesson on currency values before you go, it will end up saving you a lot of money.


You’re traveling abroad to explore and experience a different country, so why would you insist on acting like you’re still in your home country?  Tourists who refuse to abide by cultural norms don’t just end up offending locals, they also put themselves in a dangerous situation.  Inappropriate clothing, taking pictures without permission, and inappropriate displays of affection could result in jail time or fines depending on where you’re staying.  Do yourself a favor and take time to truly learn about cultural expectations and norms before you travel.  If you do you’ll be able to have a great time on your vacation, and you’ll avoid making a major travel faux pas. 



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