The Travelling Guardian | DESTINATION & ARRIVAL TIPS!
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suitcase on a world map



I recommend reading up on your destination on Trip Advisor. I find a lot of tips on the FORUM page. Travellers from across the world write in about a destination giving helpful tips from taking a cab and where to eat to which tours are interesting. Super read! I also like to read Frommers and Lonely Planet. Through Trip Advisor I found information on a student association from the local university in Ho Chi Minh City that ran city historical tours. 

Looking for an inexpensive room? Try contacting the university in the city you are travelling to see if they rent the residence rooms out during the summer break.

Bring those spare passport photos with you! You may decide to travel to another destination on short notice and may need a visa which usually requires a passport photo. You will be happy that step is looked after!

Did you know some destinations outside of North America require that your passport be valid 3 to 6 months after your return date? You will either be turned away at your connecting city or on arrival at your destination if the expiry date on your passport was overlooked.

When I worked at the airport for an international airline as a ticket agent, I had the very unhappy job of telling more than a few passengers they could not travel on their travel day, due to passport validity. Fortunately, the passport office has an emergency line. My passengers were able to get an emergency passport that afternoon for a hefty fee and re-book and have their ticket reissued for another fee and fly out within 24 hours. (Another use for those spare passport photos!)

It’s not just your passport that you need to be concerned about if you are travelling outside of North America. Be sure to check the foreign document requirements to see if you need a visa for entry into your country of travel.

Did you know that some countries will not allow entrance unless your passport contains at least two blank unstamped pages?

When travelling outside of North America check to see if you will have to pay the country’s entrance or exit fees. Some governments or airport authorities charge a departure tax which is not included in the flight fee. You may have to pay the exit fee (departure tax)  in local currency or US dollars. When I flew out of a small island in the Philippines, there were at least 5 different departure taxes I had to pay adding up to approx $15.00.

When you check in to your hotel, take a couple of business cards with the hotel’s address and phone number. If the address is not written in the local language, ask the desk clerk to print the address details on the back of the card. Keep one with you at all times. If you get lost while sightseeing you can show a taxi driver your card. The hotel card really helped me when I was in Beijing and miles away from my hotel with no idea where I was. I showed the cab driver the hotel card and he understood what I was asking him and drove me straight to my hotel!

Take a pillowcase if you’re worried about how clean that pillow is in the hotel room. It also doubles as your laundry bag! As well bring a silk sleeping bag liner. No worries about the sheets now!

Download Google Translate app.. it can help with communications.  However in saying that, nothing beats trying to communicate verbally over an app. Its all about the experience! Try to learn a few words in the language of the country you are going to visit. When I was on a small island in the Philippines the locals loved that I tried to speak to them in their language. I did get laughed at (a lot) but still had fun!    Salamat Po!                 Google translate will be your back up!

Write down a few key phrases in English and the local language in a small notebook and carry it with you.  Start with Hello – Thank you – Yes please – No – How much is it? – Where is the bathroom –  I need a taxi -I need help – Police – cheque please etc.

Along with the key phrases in my notebook, I like to write down the local exchange rate versus the Canadian currency. I start with what $1.00 is worth and go up to Cad25.00. It comes in handy when you are at a market. After the first couple of days, you won’t need it but it helps you when you know you’re not paying $20.00 for that $2.00 pukka necklace!

Read up on the destination you are visiting. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the tipping customs which can vary for each country. Restaurants may include a tip, check your bill first. If you’re tipping a maid at a hotel, tip daily for better service.

Research the correct attire you should wear to fit in. Find out what’s not appropriate attire etc. Don’t miss out because you are unaware of the customs, enjoy and embrace everything that is new and different.

Did you know our hand gestures could be taken as an insult to someone from another country? The simple “thumbs up” gesture and “V for victory” is considered obscene in some countries. Do some research on the country you’re going to and avoid a few faux pas!


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