The Traveling B: 10 Tips for Traveling Abroad
At Balcom, we promote a work-life balance that includes hard work for our clients AND vacation time for our employees to rest, relax and see the world. This personal time away from our daily desk grind allows us to gain invaluable lessons about culture, commerce, communication, cuisine and, ultimately, our connection to each other. Collectively, our B’s have not only traveled across the states, but have also vacationed in Greece, France, England, Croatia, Okinawa and beyond. Because we love to travel abroad, and want you to love traveling abroad too, we’ve compiled a list of things to you must know and do!
1. Contact Your Bank and Cellphone Carrier
It’s important to inform your bank of your plans, destination(s) and travel dates. This prevents them from shutting down your cards and will allow them to properly monitor your transactions/activity. It’s also a good idea to contact your cellphone carrier to avoid a hefty bill filled with international roaming charges.
2. Don’t Be Cheap or Wait Until the Last Minute
Give yourself enough time to plan your trip months in advance, to compare rates and take advantage of promotional pricing. Last minute bookings lead to limited options, pricing spikes and extended travel times, which all take away from the joy and excitement of your trip. So if you want to take a trip next summer, start planning and researching now.
3. Save Money With the Currency Exchange Rate in Mind
Monetary value varies from country to country and rates of exchange fluctuate daily. Make sure you have a general financial knowledge of the country you are traveling to and its exchange rate in relation to your home country’s currency. Some banks, like Wells Fargo and Bank of America, have free online calculators to help you keep track.
4. Bring External Chargers
Make sure your phone is adequately charged before departing, because nothing is worse than traveling with a dead phone. Don’t forget to pack back-up chargers for those moments on the go or when you can’t access a power source – and pack an adapter if your destination country uses a different type of electrical outlet.
5. Share the Experience With Someone You Can Be Yourself Around
According to psychotherapist and author Tina Tessina, Ph.D., “[Travel] can expose things about [your companion] that you hadn't previously seen,” and the stresses from plan mishaps and travel complications can put the strength of your relationship to the test. So, unless you’re feeling adventurous or you handle conflict extremely well, it’s best to make sure you travel with someone you feel comfortable with.
6. Balance Fine Dining With Cheap Eats
Dining at a nice restaurant with great ambiance and excellent service is always a memorable experience – but eating at a hole in the wall or a local favorite makes for great memories, too. For the sake of your wallet and your taste buds, remember deliciousness exists at all pricing points.
7. See What Your Home Country Has to Say About International Travel
The U.S. Department of State provides detailed information covering the ins and outs of traveling outside of the country. For example, the Traveler’s Checklist is a great resource because it covers a wide range of topics, including documentation, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), traveling to high-risk areas, customs restrictions and much more.
8. Follow the Laws of the Land, Always
Don’t put yourself in a bad situation by acting careless or indifferent; there have been cases of tourists sent to jail, even enduring harsh capital punishment, because they were believed to have violated another country’s laws or customs. Always be mindful of your surroundings and respectful of the country you are visiting, as you are a guest on their land.
9. Don’t Get Swindled Gift Shopping
When visiting a new place, it can be hard to be a savvy shopper. Don’t fall victim to gift shops at tourist attractions or street market markups unless you see something unique you know you won’t find anywhere else. A lot of the time, you can find the same or similar items cheaper in other parts of the city or you can negotiate the price if you pay with cash. But don’t be so cheap that you pass up a good item and end up regretting it.
10. Share Your Plans and Your Experience With Your Co-Workers
Get the insider’s scoop by telling your co-workers your plans. You’ll be surprised where they’ve been, what they know and things they’ve seen. You can get great recommendations on sights to see, places to stay and foods to eat. Our own Voice of Reason and Good As Gold both make spreadsheets of restaurants they’re interested in, and swap the spreadsheets whenever they visit a place the other person has been.
Want to know more about our B’s and their international interactions? Check out our B Team B-ographies.