French Tips And Travel Tidbits

August 20, 2018

While prepping for a trip, there are so many pieces of planning that can fall through the cracks. We tend to focus on a select list of items we need to get done and letting other tasks fall to the side. I can think of multiple items I already forgot to pack for my Asia travels, departing in approximately five hours. (I should be fine without a raincoat during prime monsoon season in Thailand, right?) It’s all part of the adventure.

Of course, being unrealistic and an amateur when it comes to foreign travel, I chose to use my time on getting my nails done prior to my trip. If I don’t have to pack nail polish or paint my nails for three weeks, it saves extra room in my suitcase. Logical.

While at the nail salon, I began discussing my travels with the technician. I was reminded by how refreshing it can be to hear a stranger’s experiences and advice, putting your own plans into perspective. Although I left feeling highly unprepared for my trip, I left with some of the best tips I’ve ever received regarding traveling abroad. They are as follows:

  • Don’t just be “street-smart”; be money smart. While discussing bargaining tips and how to best fit in when immersing yourself into a new culture, we began exploring topics such as using a new form of currency. Sure, it’s always smart to exchange your dollars in advance, though be smart about it. Don’t be afraid to use coins, and use them wisely – they often are unable to be exchanged at the end of a trip. Learn how to count both bills and coins in the currency you are dealing with. YouTube was one of the best resources my technician recommended for this.
  • Use your resources to bridge the gap. One of my favorite things about traveling is challenging myself to live in the moment and adapt to my immediate surroundings. For example, don’t just resort to the English version of a menu because you’re intimidated. My technician shared how she used Google Translate as a way to discover new foods and communicate with waiters at restaurants. A simple Google search gave her these options. Something to think about.

My conversation left me thinking about how we prepare for travel. We pack, we buy travel-sized shampoo, we research the best place to snorkel on the coast. It’s so easy to forget but SO important to remember assessing the cultural changes you’re about to face and create a plan for how you’re going to embrace them and execute. Read about the cities you are going to, how best to communicate and interact with those around you and what intangible items might be worth considering prior to hopping on your flight. With my portable Wi-Fi pack in stow, I’m hoping to be a little more prepared despite my oblivious lack of planning on how to best fit in to the countries I’m about to explore. Still, let’s be honest — as you’re reading this, I am more than likely stuck unsheltered in a rainstorm with a glow-in-the-dark manicure and a new perspective on travel prep, thanks to my trip to the nail spa.