Seven Things Nobody Tells You About Traveling Abroad

By Keely Breen


Plane ticket: Check

Luggage: Check

Passport: Check

Money: Check

Looks like you’re all ready to start your new adventure! Woohoo! Excitement and anticipation surround you as you get ready to board the plane and have the time of your life. Nothing could possibly go wrong, right? Well, maybe, but here are 7 things no one tells you about traveling abroad that could be important or cause problems.

1. The Language Barrier

Depending on the destination you are planning to travel to, their first language might not be English. The locals might not even know English at all. Communication could become an incredibly difficult task. What fun is travelling when you can’t understand a single thing?

Solution: Study up on the native language a few months beforehand in order to grasp the basics. Even attending a few language classes or downloading a fun language learning app can go a long way.

2. Contrasting Customary Behaviors

Different countries have different customs. Some behaviors that are commonplace in the US might not generate the same positive response across the globe. Mental floss‘s website gives a few examples of these differing gestures that aren’t all relative across the board such as tipping your servers, giving a thumbs up, refusing food or keeping your shoes on. These different customs are important to know before traveling in order to avoid awkward looks and confusing moments.

Solution: Don’t take offense to any confusion that may accompany these behaviors. Come to realize that you are not in the US anymore and that every country has it’s own individualistic way of doing things. 

3. Loneliness

Sure, life in a different country is exciting and everything is new, but at times it can get lonely. This is especially true if you are travelling alone and have no one to share all these new thrilling moments with. Loneliness can and typically does sink in after the initial anticipation deflates and that’s okay, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of your adventure.

Solution: Make sure you buy a phone charging adapter and take advantage of free Wifi when it is available (since it costs a fortune to use data in another country). This allows you to open up communication to friends and family back home and keep them updated on all the amazing things you have been up to. Try to still experience life in the present though and live freely!

4.Lowered Expectations

Typically before travelling we picture a world in our heads where everything works out perfectly and we end up in the perfect place. With expectations set high, it’s easy for things to seem like they are falling apart when one small thing goes wrong. Not everything will live up to what you daydreamed about and that’s an important aspect to understand.

Solution: As difficult as it may seem, try to keep your expectations for your trip realistic. This will help you adapt better if things take a surprising turn!

5. The Food

Not everything you eat in America is available around the world. That’s hard to remember especially when you are caught up in all your travel preparations! When I went abroad to Germany, the thought of completely changing my diet for three weeks went straight over my head, and as a picky eater this was seemingly difficult to adapt to. Also, according to Independent Traveler‘s website drinking water across the globe is not all the same and can even be dangerous to ones health. This is due to different purification systems. Luckily though, this obstacle can easily be overcome.

Solution: Bring a few of your favorite snacks from home in order to avoid looking through foreign food labels to find the equivalent to a granola bar! Also remember to try new cuisine, native to the new-to-you country, you might never get to try it again. As far as the water goes, seek out bottled water and bring some purification tablets in your luggage. 

6. A Craving for Normalcy

A friend of mine is on a one-year trip abroad in Costa Rica. While she is gaining so much irreplaceable knowledge, there are some things she wished she knew to expect before she went. One of those is an undesirable craving for something resembling normal in an unfamiliar world. This stems from the fact that when you’re so set in your ways back home it’s hard to adjust to a new schedule of doing things in an unknown country. You start to crave something familiar but you can’t seem to get rid of this desire.

Solution: There is really no immediate solution to this dilemma, which is unfortunate, but you can try keeping your daily routine as identical to the one back home as possible.

7. This Isn’t an Escape

While traveling may be a good break from the hardships back home, it isn’t the be-all-end-all solution to any lingering problems where you live. Adventuring outside of the borders provides a nice little break from the chaos of everyday life, but it doesn’t completely erase anything that is still generating conflict back home.

Solution: Go into this new excursion with an open mind. Don’t think of this as an automatic answer to everything that isn’t going so good back home. Just go to gain a little more knowledge and wisdom on how to fix those dilemmas.

Hopefully this advice will help assist you on your journeys abroad. Don’t forget to take a ton of pictures, live with no regrets, and have the time of your life. Traveling abroad and venturing out of your comfort zone seems daunting at first but once you start your journey — nothing compares! Safe travels!

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