Travel Tips for Twenty-Somethings


BETHANY, W.Va. – I’m 22. I have traveled to nine different countries, and set foot on three different continents. So I’ve come up with a checklist to follow when travelling to other places. Don’t be an “obvious tourist”, eat everything, learn simple phrases if the language is different, always have cash, and remember to bring a converter and call your bank about your credit cards.

When you sign on to travel to a different part of the world, you are signing on to shed your “American-ness” for a bit and assimilate yourself to a word that isn’t hamburgers and hotdogs.

Yes, countries are different from one another. No, everyone does not speak English. So do your research. If you aren’t fluent and don’t have a guide, make sure to bring a language dictionary and practice in the art of pantomiming.

Don’t be an “obvious tourist.” There is most definitely an American stereotype, and for whatever reason we can be spotted from a mile away. So be a travel chameleon. Stay away from that American Eagle t-shirt and the PINK sweats, okay? It will make you more approachable, and invite more questions to be asked about you. Think about it. If you’re looking at that guy on the boardwalk with the camera in hand, socks and sandals on, adorned with a Hawaiian shirt, you have a pretty good guess of where he is or isn’t from, right? So don’t limit yourself. Be a blank canvas tourist.

Travelling abroad is a perfect time to talk to strangers. Put your smartphone down. Go to a bar or café and start asking your new tour guide about their country. Where’s a good restaurant or sight to see? What is it like to live where they do? I think the most knowledge-fueled moments I’ve had were spent absorbing things my tour guide, bartender, or fellow patron said about their personal experiences in their countries. Especially if you are in a tour group, you’ll want to get a more genuine and less tourist-oriented point of view.

Money-wise, there’s a new fad that the ol’ United States is not caught up on. It comes in the form of microchips as opposed to the magnetic strip probably still residing on your current bank and credit cards. Certain companies are offering this new type of card, but a lot aren’t, and that will hinder your experience in places like Spain, for example. To avoid these hassles, always make sure you have plenty of cash, and convert your money to the local currency before you make it to wherever you’re going.

The customer is not always right. Most countries don’t give free refills, and what you expect a food to look like in one country might not look the same in another. Most countries aren’t fond of the “separate check” motif. So again, be flexible. Don’t be that rude American that has to have their food just so. Trust in the hand that’s feeding you. Especially if that hand is about to prepare something in a way you’ve never experienced before.

Moral of the story: let the country you are travelling to impress upon you. Let the smells, tastes, and words wash over you. You’ll be better for it. 


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