Traveling overseas isn’t cheap. Even if you plan on sleeping in a third world prison quality dorm room and sustaining yourself with sticks of roasted mystery meat purchased on some soot-drenched side street, jet setting takes money.
So it makes perfect sense to put more effort into planning your grand international adventure than you do for a weekend jaunt.
But overthinking every last detail is unnecessary. Piling on additional stress doesn’t improve your vacation. It’s more likely to leave you with impacted bowels than enhance your experience.
Here are the 5 things it seems most people stew over and reasons why you’re better off to shrug your shoulders and stay ulcer free.
1) When Do I Buy My Ticket?
The ultimate noob question.
Will the price go up? Will the price go down? What’s the best time to buy my ticket?
The answer is simple. You buy your ticket when 2 things are true:
- You know 100% the dates on which you’ll be able to travel.
- You’re more-or-less happy with the price.
If the price is way too high, then sure, wait it out….but if it’s at all reasonable, just buy it and move on to the next stage of the planning process.
It might go up and it might go down. Over the long haul it works out to be the same given that sometimes you missed out on a cheaper fare and other times you avoided a huge increase.
The truth is, if a 10-15% shift in the price of your airline ticket is THAT much of a deal breaker, you really need to be saving up more before planning the trip.
2) How Do I Get Local Currency?
95% of the time you just take it out of the ATM when you land.
Folks love to soil their britches over the highway robbery of ATM fees – but if you actually add up how much you spend on cash machine withdrawals over the course of your trip, it’s as silly a thing to worry about as driving 10 miles across down to save 2 cents a liter on gas.
Say in a given 2 week trip you pull out $1500…this adds up to like 20 bucks in fees. It’s a drop in the bucket and not something you need to be spending hours stressing over to try and find a workaround.
If you travel a lot and have access to a fee-free account like Charles Schwab then open one…but really, it’s such a small expense in the grand scheme of travel costs that it’s not worth throwing a temper tantrum over it.
3) Is It Safe There?
If you go to Barnes & Noble and there’s a guidebook for the country you wish to visit, it’s most likely safe enough as long as you don’t do retarded shit.
“Retarded shit” is the same list of activities that would increase your likelihood of finding trouble in your home town at 3am on a Saturday night hammered, too.
4) How Do I Avoid Looking Like A Tourist?
You won’t. Even if the people in your destination country ethnically look like you do.
Tourists look like tourists because they’re not from that country.
Just as you can pick out a German on the subway in New York, they’ll know you aren’t French when you’re standing in line to climb the Eiffel Tower – even if you and your dad are both wearing berets.
Don’t worry about “blending in.” Just be nice to people.
Smile. Be nice.
Don’t frown. Don’t be cruel.
5) What pack should I buy?
When I am the supreme dictator of the galaxy my first order of business will be to gather every Osprey 40 (et al) and toss them into a live volcano.
If you’re trekking 50 miles into the forest, jungle or mountains, your pack matters…if you’re trekking from Centraal Station to the Grasshopper or Khao San to a ping-pong show, it doesn’t matter.
I’m certifiably old. This is true. But when I started traveling almost everyone I knew was traveling with whatever pack they had or could borrow.
I’m sure Osprey makes nice packs. That’s not my point. My point is that whatever pack you buy, even the cheapest, shittiest one, will be more technologically advanced than the packs worn by humans for the first 20,000 years of backpacks. It’s not something worth stressing over.