Tips for International Travel
We love to travel. We love to take people traveling! But we admit that travel can be tough.
Over time, we've learned a number of tricks that make everything easier,
less stressful and more comfortable. We highly recommend them.
Really, really, REALLY hydrate yourself starting 24 hours before your trip.
The reality is that we don’t want to drink much during an airplane flight to avoid those icky, tiny bathrooms. That’s fine. But you need to be well hydrated to feel well. Take the time to drink a lot of liquids the day prior to travel. Keep drinking water up until about an hour before your flight. On the plane? Reduce your intake. Then, on arrival at your destination, resume drinking to make up for not hydrating while on the flight. Keep hydrated during your trip, especially in the first few days. Bring a water bottle. Fill it often.
Be prepared for jet lag.
It’s rare to travel overseas without experiencing jet lag. Everyone has their own way of dealing with it. Some sleep all they can, whenever they can. Some prefer to stay awake until their body can get in sync with the destination’s local time. If you haven’t traveled overseas before, use this trip to observe your body’s reactions. Then take care of yourself accordingly. Staying hydrated helps. We schedule a very easy first day for each trip. People may retire to bed, as needed. After the first night's sleep at our destination, most everyone is well-rested, recovered and raring to go.
Take care of your body during long, international flights.
Move it as much as possible. Get up. Walk. Stretch, flex and twist your neck, back, feet and torso intermittently. If your legs and/or feet swell during a long flight, bring a belt or yoga strap along in your carry-on. Loop it around the tray table, lift your feet onto it, then adjust the length to lift your feet several inches off the floor. It really will help! Keep extra items of clothing accessible for supporting your back and head, adding warmth or cushioning your arms. Consider reserving an aisle seat. You'll be able to move and get up as needed, without interrupting or having to wake your row-mates.
Consolidate reading, music, communication and photography needs into as few devices as possible.
A phone can provide for all those needs while taking up a tiny amount of space. You may or may not want to have your international calling service activated. Check before leaving as to what the cost will be. It’s certainly nice to talk with family/ friends, verify that you’ve arrived, and share pictures in the moment. However, it’s not always necessary. If you choose not to pay for international phone service, place your cell phone on “airplane mode” during departure. Keep it there throughout the trip. Your phone won’t be able to send or receive phone calls or texts, and you won’t accidentally incur charges. Hotels and many public places provide wi-fi. Once there and connected, you can use your phone to access email, social media, instant messaging (FB Messenger, WhatsApp, etc.) and other internet based applications.
Try to take a day off prior to and on returning from your trip.
This is an important idea – and it's one we recommend you consider carefully. Travel prep is important. Give yourself ample time to do what you need to do. You’ll enjoy everything so much more if you’re not rushed and frantic. Conversely, give yourself a day at home to recover before heading back to work or jumping into your regular schedule. A single, relaxing day at home can provide a much-needed interlude for renewal and reflection. Then, after a 24 hour break... take a deep breath and plunge back in to regular life. You'll be ready.
Expect the unexpected.
Travel means you’ll be in a country where everything from the plumbing fixtures to the type of dairy product offered alongside your coffee or tea will be different from what you have at home. Lots of things are unfamiliar. Some are downright baffling. How you react to the unexpected has everything to do with the level of stress you’ll experience. Give yourself time to figure things out. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Laugh a lot – at yourself, others and the situations. Everything new that you experience is only new once. After that, you’re an old pro!
And of course, a few notes regarding money.
It’s not necessary to change money prior to the trip.
Once we arrive and meet together at the destination airport, we always take time to let folks get snacks, use the bathrooms and get local currency. It’s easy to do so right there at ATM/cash stations with your credit or debit card. ATMs are prolific and easy to use.
Keep some cash with you, but know that credit cards are used almost everywhere.
Much of the time, it’s easiest to make purchases with a credit card. We recommend having just $100-$150 in cash with you at any given time. It’s easy to replenish every few days at an ATM machine. If our itinerary includes an activity or location where using credit cards might be problematic, your tour guide(s) will give you plenty of notice so you can be prepared. Limiting the cash you carry also helps prevent your ending the trip with a surplus of foreign currency.
Think ahead about budgeting spending money.
Two out of three meals each day are typically covered by the cost of the tour. With that in mind, you can begin to estimate how much money you’ll need for additional meals, snacks, gifts and goodies. We will be many wonderful places and you’ll see many wonderful things. Be prepared for temptation! Budget accordingly.
Tipping customs are different at every destination. When in doubt, ask.
Check the travel notes specific to your destination for information on tipping. In most countries, it's customary to tip considerably smaller amounts than in the US. Or nothing at all! Occasionally, at gratuity will be added on to the bill for large parties (6 or more). If you're eating out with a group, check your bill to see if it's included on the price of the meal. (Another nice thing to do: offer to pay the group's bill on one check. It is so much easier for the waitstaff and only takes you a few extra minutes to figure out your share.) It’s Rowan Tree Travel's general practice to collect tips for our tour’s driver from everyone at the end of the tour. You should budget approximately $3-$5 per day for the duration of a trip. Then we like to present it as one collective “Thank you!” along with kisses and hugs as we depart for home. You do not need to tip your Rowan Tree Travel tour guide(s). However, we won't say no to the offer of an occasional wee dram...