Tips For International Travel
By Samit Bhattacharya
So you have decided that it is time for you to hang your boots for a couple of weeks and take the plunge. I mean take a trip somewhere with your family. Rather, take a trip to some other exotic country and cool your heels off. What are the preparations you need to make such a travel or trip successful? Here are some quick tips:
- Geo political basics of your destination:
Location and Demographics: The first thing you have to do for any international travel is to know more and more about the place you are scheduled to visit. Where is it located.? Which are the major states/provinces?
Political : What kind of a government does it have. Does it have a monarchy ( Brunei) or a democratic (India) or communist government (Cuba).Does it recognize human rights? Is the country part of UN? Is it a religious state especially an Islamic country (Saudi Arabia)? Does the country have political instability (Pakistan or Iran)?
Society : is it socially safe? Does it have ethnic/religious discord amongst its people like Iraq or Myanmar or Indonesia? Is it safe for tourists where Afghanistan is not? And if you are a westerner, check it twice.
- Climatic conditions:
Try to learn about the climatic conditions prevailing during the time of visit. Colder climates would mean packing your luggage with more woolen and warm clothing. Warmer or seaside climate means mostly Tees and light coloured clothing. In case you are travelling to the middle east , pack some sun screen lotion too. So it is imperative that you know the expected climate and temperatures for that location.
- Culture and Society :
Some countries have very orthodox cultures and expects to impose the same to all citizens and residents or even travelers who come to their country. The best example of this would be Saudi Arabia. They do not tolerate any deterrence from the rules and cultures they have and would like you to observe while on their soil. Women must be fully covered from top of their heads to toes. No movies or liquor anywhere in their country. Violation brings strict punishment even leading to public beheading. Some other countries which though they have orthodox cultures are not of an imposing nature. An example is Japan which has very conservative and strict way of life but they do not impose it upon foreigner or travelers. So before you embark on your trip it is very essential to know the cultures and the practices of the society of the country that you would be visiting.
- Language :
Try to know the main language or languages that are spoken and the areas where they are spoken. In many countries it is usually one or two languages which are spoken and a little idea of one of them would sail you through. You would find that in almost all British colonies English would be fine, so would be French for French colonies. In most south American countries Latin or Spanish would do the trick. But in some countries, there are a lot of languages spoken and it changes with every sate province you travel A fine example is India which has about 17 popular languages along with Hindi which is their national language and about 53 dialects. So for most countries, you can keep a language /translation book handy and it is better to know the basic questions and the basic cordialities.
- Food habits :
Learn the basic food habits of your destination country. In most countries sandwiches and juice/milk/cereals are available for your basic nourishment. Learn about the cooking techniques used. Countries in the far east would predominantly be light cooked food with steamed food being more popular. China has a history of serving snakes and scorpions as delicacies. The orientals are also heard of serving monkey brains too. India serves one of the regions most spicy food of the world, and so does Mexico. Middle east serves grilled and smoked food.Russia serves vodka during daytime. Italians serves wine for lunches. So it is always better to know the local food habits. Identify some local food which might be fine with you or you would like to taste while in your visit. Keep some basic digestive pills handy before you do so. And always drink safe bottled water when you are a foreigner.
Zooming on to the location of travel , it is always better to know the common modes of travel available in the region. Can you rent a car there? Is the driving licence you have recognized in that particular country? How far would you need to travel for sight seeing? Where is the closest airport terminal or the local rail station? Does it have public transport? Is it safe for tourists to avail them? What are the chances of getting mugged or pick pocketed in the streets? My advice is don’t take your chances when a foreign country and play it safe.
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