Going Global with Gregory


There’s nothing more exciting then waking up to the shrill sound of an alarm at 3 AM on the morning of an international vacation. Actually, depending on who you ask, that last sentence may have been a lie, but for the sake of this article, we are going to pretend it’s true. 

For some people, traveling is the peanut butter to their jelly. It’s the cherry on top of their ice cream. If it isn’t clear what I’m trying to say, it brings some people immense joy. Traveling completes them.

On the contrary, traveling for others is similar to fingernails on a chalkboard. Some people don’t like it because they enjoy being at home while others just feel like it is a waste of time. 

No matter who’s traveling though, there is one thing that always comes with traveling internationally: STRESS. I’m fortunate enough to have traveled internationally a few different times in my 18 years of life, and throughout all of my experiences, I’ve gathered a few tips that make things just a little bit easier.

I would like to preface all of this with a small disclaimer. What works for me may not work for everyone!

It is very important to know the culture you are traveling into. Most times, traveling internationally provides a culture shock. For me personally, that is my favorite part, however for many people, that is not the case.

Embracing the change is my best advice. Educating yourself is the best form of preparation. Know what foods will be consumed, the differences in wild life, and where to find the next “American” meal.  

In some places the water isn’t drinkable and the dogs aren’t domesticated. These are all extremely important to the success of your trip. 

Cultural differences will also change the clothing that is packed for the trip. What is considered modest in America is, in many cases, inappropriate in other countries.

When it comes to packing for anything international, it is also incredibly important to know the climate of the destination. Depending on where it is that one is traveling to, seasons may be flipped or weather may be far more extreme than what the traveler is used to. 

There is no shame in researching! People can’t pack successfully if they don’t know what to expect.

To build on this idea of less stressful packing, I suggest laying out the items being packed at least a week and a half prior to departure day. Whether mom or dad forgot to do the laundry or that one pair of pants is missing, this allows for some wiggle room.

Once items are layed out, DO NOT TOUCH THEM! The last thing anyone wants is to arrive in their tropical, mosquito-infested destination just to realize that they left their deet-drenched bug spray wipes at home (yes, this happened to me). 

This means that all the clothing and make up that one is planning on bringing is out of commision for a little bit. For items that are used daily (toothbrush, face wash, deodorant, etc.), create a checklist that can be checked off the night before the trip.

As for missing items or things that still need to be bought, don’t wait until 11:30 of the night before to do final shopping. Make sure everything that is needed is accounted for at least two days before vacation.

Aside from packing stresses, making it through the airport is a whole other story. Checking, double-checking, and triple-checking flight information is always a must. The best way to make a vacation successful is to make the trip through the airport as smooth as possible. 

If the airport you are traveling through offers online or mobile check-in, I would strongly suggest taking advantage of it. The less lines there are to wait in, the better.

Extra time is a necessity because lines at the airport are unpredictable. It is much better to have enough time to stop and grab a bite to eat than it is to be sprinting through the airport praying to God that they hold the flight (this has also happened to me). 

Pay close attention to the time change. It is important to know how different it is so that your body can adapt. If there is a time difference of 12 hours or more, make sure to get a good night’s rest before you go. 

If the plane lands before what is considered “night time”, do not allow yourself to fall asleep. You want your body to get used to the change as soon as possible!

Along with a full night’s sleep, taking a nice warm shower and drinking a cup of tea the night before is one of the best remedies of stress. Not to mention, with a long day of traveling ahead, it may be a little bit before another shower is available.

Out of everything that I’ve included in this article, the most important piece of advice is as follows: have fun! If you go on an international vacation and don’t enjoy yourself at least a little bit, that was a pretty penny for not having any fun. 

As stressful as traveling abroad may be, there is something so beautiful about experiencing other cultures that makes it all worth it.