Over on CNN’s AC360 blog Chris Guillebeau writes about things that he wish the had know before he started travelling.
I too have learned the hard way while cycle touring and on my other travels. Some of the 28 things that Chris talks about rings a bell, all very good advice even for a seasoned traveller.
So before you travel, crawl the internet, read guide book and ask your friends since there a pretty good chance that they have been there before. And also be ready to think on your feet and change your plans, because even the best and most up to date guide book could be wrong.
A friend of mine told me that his two year old guide book told him that there would be a ferry over the river. Only to find out that the last time it sailed was in 1947.
3. Take a lot of cash with you, and make sure the bills are new and have no writing on them. If you go to a place that accepts credit cards, then you can just redeposit the cash when you get home. It is far worse to end up short of cash with no credit card option.
7. Hire a taxi outside the airport, not from the guys who approach you inside as you’re walking out. Even better, walk further outside the airport to where the taxis pull in, and you’ll get a better deal because the driver won’t have to pay the entrance fee.
13. When it comes to visas (and all immigration issues), your experience will vary from place to place. The rules are flexible in most places, and sometimes they will work in your favor and sometimes they will work against you.
20. Unless you can be very discreet, never take photos of people without asking. Don’t be surprised if they say no, because many cultures are not comfortable with strangers taking photos of them all the time. If they do say yes, you may find yourselves indebted to them for a gift or other favor.
26. Be prepared to represent your country, whether you care about politics or not. For better or worse, many people will expect you to know a lot about politics in your home country and how governmental decisions in one country affect the lives of people thousands of miles away. Don’t say you’re from Canada unless you really are.