5 Things That Travel Bloggers Fail to Mention
Whenever I read a travel blogger’s story it’s always filled with wonder and amazing photos that seem to be cropped out of a magazine. There are very few stories of how their luggage was sent around the world three times or that they spent the night in an airport for 10 hours sleeping on a cold Burger King bench. This post is dedicated to all of the things that I wish I knew before I relocated my life halfway around the world in the name of wanderlust.
What that Wi-Fi be like though
There is a widespread misconception that Wi-Fi or high speed internet is available anywhere you can find a high rise building. Hmmm not so much. Ask anyone who has spent time in Cuba how they fared when it came to uploading Instagram photos or taking important meetings via Skype and you’ll soon realize that Wi-Fi is a luxury.
Ok, so you do have internet access, but do you really have access to the World Wide Web. Have you ever logged into Spotify and saw the dreaded “Not Available In Your Country” message? Some countries like China require that you use a Virtual Private Network or VPN to connect to sites like Google and well the world in general. Ensuring that you download and pay for your VPN before you leave your origin country makes the difference between securing the bag and handing out excuses. Having a VPN is also clutch when you want to keep your internet activity secure and secret, like accessing your financial institute.
Show me the Money
Make sure that you know how to access your funds. Using an institution that is recognized globally such as HSBC, Chase and Citi Bank will save you some heartache when its 3 a.m. and you’re anticipating that wire transfer that was done 5 days ago. In addition knowing little tricks like entering 00 when the ATM asks for a 6 digit pin before your 4 digit pin will help your card to not be eaten by the ATM. If you will be living in a place long term you may want to consider opening a local bank account. For this you will need a passport and documentation of employment.
Remember that you are a foreigner and therefore you will spend HOURS in the bank because you will have go to a special teller, complete special forms and any other special requirement they deem necessary.
International Calling Plans are for Suckers
Listen if you have fallen victim to having your bill be a gazillion dollars, it is ok, we all make mistakes. There are a few ways to avoid this. You can, purchase a SIM card upon arrival or download an App like What’sApp, FaceTime, Wechat, Google Hangout, and there are tons of free text apps that allow you to communicate with individuals throughout the world. If you live in America I recommend Magic Jack. They have a mobile app and they have a USB that plugs into your computer. This will allow you to make calls with an internet connection. You can also use it anywhere that you travel that has internet access. The best part is that you can choose a telephone number that is local to your state and city. I have used my Magic Jack in China and Germany. Purchasing a SIM card will allow you to communicate with others in that country and have a reliable data connection that doesn’t require Wi-Fi access which is clutch when using ride sharing apps and your GPS.
Time Zones Matter
I cannot tell you how many times I have agreed to a 3am telephone conference call knowing that I needed to be up at 7am for work. To avoid falling asleep on your next client or at work create a schedule that is beneficial for both parties. A good way to do this is by blocking off times in your calendar for your sleep. This will also help you when making requests. A simple hiccup of not knowing the time difference can come off as insensitive and irresponsible so always ask their location and confirm their local time. Don’t assume that the time zone is consistent throughout the country.
Respect the Culture
Whether you are in Detroit, Michigan or Cambodia you have to respect the culture. I’m not just referring to religion and attire or dinner etiquette I mean every little nuance that you’d never know until living there. When I first moved to China I cannot tell you how frustrated I was with cultural norms like habitual tardiness. Setting a time was really a suggested time and the person was liable to be a minimum of 30 minutes late. In addition there were times while traveling in Europe where alcohol consumption was no big deal and expected. You have to set your own boundaries and take the good with the bad. Although I hated how late my clients and friends were in China I appreciated that if they said they would do something it was done before I arrived home.
I hope this helps as you continue on your journey traveling and exploring the world. What are some things you wish you knew before embarking abroad?