My first experience as a solo traveller happened to be in Europe. Though a bit both tensed and excited, my father encouraged me to go for it. The initial preparation both mentally and financially apart from the flight, visa and passport issues included an extensive search of its transportation facilities along with their costs, its places which were in ‘not to be missed’ list for me and behaviour and mood of the natives. The experiences that I gathered while my initial preparation for the journey made me pen those down. Hope these initial 12 things that tourists should know to travel safely in foreign countries will help my fellow nomads.
Choosing the budget place
I believe that before going to any foreign land, one should be aware of its expenditures and costs. A trip to Bangladesh will be much cheaper than a trip to France, though both are foreign destinations for Indians. Choosing the foreign country should fit the pocket as well until one has plans to go there and work for some time to earn some bucks.
It is essential to know the passport and visa procedures of the country ought to be visited. In simple words, the passport is the permission from our country to visit other countries while the visa is the permission of the visiting nation allowing any traveller to go there. Issuing of a passport may sometimes take a long time while in some cases it gets issued in a week. In my opinion, keeping a months time handy is enough for getting a passport. Next, the visa comes to act. Some countries have visa on arrival while for others one has to collect their visa from the visa office before beginning the journey. Often for some countries, visa offices are located only in New Delhi, and one has to come a long way to get the passport stamped. One can issue a passport easily but when it comes to visa, many countries do not give permission in one go, and one may have to apply again and again for it. The visa charges will be equally applicable each time irrespective of how many times one has applied for the same after getting rejected.
Choosing the right flight for you is a master thing to do. Jetlags are not to be forgotten while buying tickets. Time of landing at the foreign place and whether landing in an unknown place at that time of the day is safe or not is to be checked beforehand. Whether any transportation will be available from the airport to your hotel is also to be called upon.
Stay fine, Dine fine.
Looking for hotels with complimentary breakfast is the finest search in terms of lodging. Proper location of the hotel with respect to the city center, markets, and railway stations or bus stand is logical. Often homestays are available where one can stay in a homely atmosphere and enjoy their holidays with a local family. While in hotels one can have lunch and dinner in the same hotel or outside, staying in a homestay will allow the travellers to cook their food. Booking needs to be done earlier for both the cases, obviously!
Learning a small bit of the foreign language of the visiting country saves our day. Few words like hello, good morning, thank you, etc. can help us in understanding the new people in a better way. Installing google translator in our mobile also proves to be helpful.
Currency conversion and how much money is actually required for the stay is a must do before the journey. The currency exchange points where one can exchange currencies need to be marked properly.
Cash or Card
While my ten days stay in France, I preferred to carry most of my money in cards and the rest in cash. Most of the stores and malls in foreign countries accept international debit or credit cards while shopping. Carrying a card is a hassle-free option over carrying currency notes and exchanging them at every possible junction. One can easily approach their nearest bank for such cards where they are issued at a very meagre price. Once done, filling and refilling of the card can be easily done from one’s bank account.
Chalking out places from Google that are a must for an individual traveller (obviously choice will vary) is the next thing to do, may it be mountains, seas or landscapes, museums, any memorial site, daily adventures or a route less travelled. Whatever any traveller wish to explore includes knowing their whereabouts, the roads, their location, entry tickets with opening hours if any and other such details that will easily fetch the traveller to that attraction.
Connectivity and availability of transportation in any foreign country play a major role in roaming. Maps help a lot in resolving this issue. Reading and understanding a route map is essential before taking up the road. Local trains, metros, public buses or taxi chains along with their operational maps are easily available on the internet from where one can get a basic idea of the route. The hard copy of maps are sometimes made available in the airports and metro stations as well for traveller convenience.
Trolly and Backpack
Baggage allowance is to be kept in mind while packing luggage. Dividing the total luggage into two parts (one for hand and one for cabin) will save us from paying extra for the overburdened trolley. While metal items may be checked separately at the airport, transparent boxes are needed for carrying medicines. Knowing these simple titbits frees a traveller from last minute rush. Not to forget about buying a new mobile sim in the new country, most of the mobile operators provide international calling at a cheap rate. These mobile sims are also readily available in the airport.
The D Day
International check-ins at the airport take more time than domestic. Full body checkup and other intricate check-ups may result in leaving a few things behind in the airport. The small interview session at the immigration desk is vital, and one should look confident while answering to the officer.
Keeping handy the local police helpline numbers is very much appreciated. Often travellers hesitate to communicate with the local people in unwanted situations. All people are not bad in this good world! Going straight and seeking out for help is perhaps the best option when struck. Alert travelling and not to make easy friends with strangers are some points I always follow. As far my experience counts, in most of the occasion local people are helpful and open to interact. But the situation may alter as well! Standard safety measures for a solo female traveller like carrying a small knife and pepper spray should not be missed.
Some cheap tricks I would also like to share for the first time foreign travellers like booking a flight in an odd time like 4 in the morning rather than booking it at 10 in the morning will definitely save some bucks. Staying in a homestay rather than in a multi-starred hotel will again add some extra to the piggy bank. Buying metro or bus passes prove cheap than purchasing these tickets on a regular basis.
Go ahead and start planning for the first foreign trip NOW!!