With all the lessons I’ve gathered up over the last three years of travel, I can say in total honesty that I know exactly as much about what NOT to do, as what TO DO abroad. With every “travel hacking” notation I’ve made along the way, there’s been a warning frantically scribbled on my notebook beneath it.
Today, I figured I’d share a few of those “warnings” from my own experiences and epic travel fails.
Should you or someone you know be planning a trip abroad, forward them this and save them a little face at their destination later.
10 Things You Should NEVER Do Abroad
- Ask people why they don’t speak English. Please, for the love of God, don’t be “that girl” on your travels who takes Ignorant American to a new level, disrespecting local language. At least learn to say “hello” in the local language and show a bit of respect. When I attempted speaking the local language, more often than not, I was greeted with a smile and warmth; whereas if I started off in English I’d get an eye roll (and I don’t blame them).
- Insult the local customs. When I was in Turkey, I covered my head for most of the time I was there, in an attempt to respect local customs. In doing so, I found even more respect for the local women who were expected to cover themselves ALWAYS which, in my mind, meant suffering through seriously sweat-inducing heat. I also felt that I was being less intrusive to their everyday culture and customs. Was it comfortable? No. Was it the right thing to do? I think so.
- Lose your debit card. It’s a BAD travel day when you lose your debit card at one ATM then can’t use it at THIS one… #TravelFail
- Did I ever tell you guys about the time I lost my debit card in Bangkok then proceeded to go onto the islands without it? My family was in communication with me attempting to wire me cash through one of the money transfer services when, holy shit, the entire island’s power went out. For nearly 24 hours we had no power, and therefore no cell service…no G’s to be found anywhere- this was accompanied by a massive storm to boot. Hello rain, zero money, wet heat and a massive panic attack. Moral of the story: DO NOT LOSE YOUR DEBIT CARD ABROAD.
- Trust a taxi driver. Okay, not all of them are bad. In fact, many of them are absolutely wonderful human beings who wish nothing more than for you to have a safe and pleasant visit to their country. Unfortunately, there are a few “squeaky wheels” that ruin it for the rest of them. I believe it’s best to remain en garde during any and all taxi rides abroad, and (screw it) probably at home too.
- Eat mystery meat. There are many countries I’ve visited that have “undisclosed sources” for their meat being served on dishes for tourist pricing, and I’m not having any of it, if I can avoid it. Meat, perhaps more than any other food group, can carry serious byproducts, chemicals and junk that can make you sick on your travels. I’ve seen SO many travelers derail their plans because of a single “bad, funky chicken,” just saying.
- Unprotected sex. Seems like a no brainer, eh? Well, I’ve heard stories that would make your stomach turn and your head spin. Have the travel flings all you want but, as they say, “Don’t be a fool, wrap your tool” (sorry Mom). But you know what’s worse than an unexpected health scare or pregnancy? An unexpected health scare or pregnancy abroad, that you’ll be bringing home with you…alone.
- Expect the same things you get back home, ie. free water at a restaurant. Get over it. You’re not at home anymore, and they don’t just hand water out like candy on Halloween in other countries. You have to purchase it, so it’s something that has to be worked into your travel budget.
- Break laws…on accident (or on purpose). Did you know it’s seriously illegal to j-walk in Singapore? I mean fines and a ruined vacation, BAD. If caught, you could receive a $20 fine on the spot, a fine of up to $1,000, or three months of jail time. Moral of the story: You should always take time to learn local laws, even just a smidge, before visiting.
- If you’re not convinced yet, think about this: There was this guy I met at a rooftop bar in Thailand who told me about someone that broke the law in Indonesia and was beheaded….for smoking weed. Now, this is the same country that sells Magic Mushrooms on the side of the road legally, so one may easily make the mistake of assuming marijuana is also legal. Well, it’s not, and you could suffer an eternity for it. JUST SAY NO. Do your Google homework and proceed with respect and caution.
- Online dating. Okay, okay. Just kidding on that one. Doooooo it! I did….(read more about all that here).
- Lose your passport. Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it. I repeat: DON’T DO IT.