Impromptu Travelers Beware!
The 5 Challenges You May Face Once You Arrive At Your Destination
Planning a trip is no easy feat, especially when traveling abroad. If I’m honest, it's my favorite part though it is the MOST challenging. Deciding where to go is usually the easiest part. Planning how you are going to get around and exactly what you will do once you arrive, is a whole other animal. For those of you who don’t care for planning, we salute you. You are the Impromptu Traveler, the daring soul who says “Once I get there, I’ll just wing it!” I have much respect and admiration for you. Frankly, this is exploration at it’s best. So for those of you who “wing it”, this is for you.
Language can be complicated especially at destinations where English isn’t the first or second language. Central and South America have countries which, for the most part, are manageable with broken Spanish or even "Spanglish". But, if you are going to Taiwan even the best spanglish won’t help you! For countries like these, I do recommend looking for English speaking guided tours to get the most of your experience. If you want to wait till you get there, the concierge may be able to recommend some tours which do not require booking in advanced.
Options are another factor to consider. For instance, there is so much to do and see in Great Britain. Many prominent museums, sites with significant historical value, beautiful landscapes, great restaurants, hotels, theater etc. You can plan a trip to Great Britain for 2 weeks and I guarantee you won’t see everything that each city has to offer; not to mention getting used to driving on the left side of the road if you plan on driving while you’re there (talk about challenging). Now on the other hand, in the Galapagos Islands, there really isn’t much with regards to museums, hotels, restaurants, nightlife, etc.(not a lot of options). Plant yourself in the Galapagos for 7-10 days and you will return with a COMPLETE understanding and appreciation of the delicate balance of nature in all its glory. In all instances, look for the options that best suit your interests. There is nothing worse than going destination on your bucket list and realizing that you didn’t have enough time to see or do what all that you wanted.
Driving is a big challenge. Your first priority should be safety, not just yours but of others as well. We are spoiled here in the US with great infrastructure, signage, and lights. Another benefit is years of experience driving here and having a great understanding of the rules and regulations. There are many countries that drive on the right hand side but their roads are small, have an abundance of potholes, and traffic lights are limited and seem optional at best. In Rome, for example, a stop sign is often a suggestion for resident drivers but they do drive on the right. Driving in Costa Rica can be very challenging due to steep mountain roads, with little to no barricades to keep you from driving off a cliff yet they too drive on the right hand side as well. Ironically, the locals drive their cars, buses, and trucks on those same roads like they are on rails. Also watch for hidden cameras that photograph your license plate and issue citations, even without your knowing. Your rental car agency will be advised and you will be billed. Trust me, I know from personal experience. Lastly, every country has its rules and regulations for driving and it’s not possible to know them 100% especially if traveling in Europe. I have driven through 3 countries in the same day in Europe and it’s impossible to know every rule for each of those countries. Please take all this into consideration if driving is a must for you.
Culture is an obvious challenge. For those that enjoy getting to a destination and winging it, make sure you pick a destination that has cultural meaning for you. Keep in mind that some cultural differences can be significant and you should be aware of the do’s and don’ts before engaging the local people. Check with the hotel concierge to guide you away from any areas that may not be safe for you. I will mention that attempting to speak their language and having a decent understanding of their culture goes a long way. If they gather that you are putting in the effort they will meet you halfway.
Food is one of my favorite reasons for travel and many people feel the same. When traveling to foreign countries it is a good idea to know what types of food they offer. I would encourage you to try the endemic dishes, after all, eating and trying local food is an integral part of cultural emersion. Some native dishes are quite delicious the first few times you have them, but may be overwhelming after a while if there are no other choices. If you are not a foodie, many countries have restaurants that offer an American cuisine option, but beware as some do not. If you are on any type of restrictive diet, i.e. gluten free, reduced sodium or have allergies to certain foods, it could be an issue. Many travelers bring cereal, protein bars, peanut butter crackers or other easy to transport snack foods. If you do have dietary restrictions or only like American cuisine, I highly recommend doing research prior to leaving because at the end of the day, we all need to eat.
We would love to hear what challenges you’ve faced when you arrived at a destination. Please let us know in the comments below.