While my husband and I are living abroad in Japan, we are truly enjoying the travel this side of the world has to offer. Being from the United States, we are accustomed to finding clean water, edible food (downright delicious most times), and cultures fairly similar to our own when we travel; although let us admit that the East and West coasts, and all that land in between, can be a bit different and shocking in their own ways. The travel we have done thus far has been eye opening and I’ve learned a important rules thus far.
Be open-minded. While it’s great to hop on a resort and stay there, getting off the resort is very rewarding most places. If you are a timid traveler hiring a driver for the day is often a good way to go, and many times not nearly as expensive as you might think it is. Facebook and Instagram are great resources for tracking down other people who have been to where you are headed, or who may have various friends, friends of friends, with whom you can connect. The real understanding of these other places doesn’t happen on your resort, so it’s really nice to be able to explore the area however you feel most comfortable.
Be prepared. Did you make sure that your passport is valid for an additional 9 months beyond your trip? Most places, the rule is 6 months, but if you see that you are approaching that marker get ready to go replace it now! Why put it off? In addition, a common oversight when traveling abroad, especially to smaller countries, is the visa requirement. Many times you will need to do some preparation ahead of time to apply for the visa, whether it be saving money depending on the cost or getting small ID size pictures ready for the paperwork. You want to be prepared and relaxed for your trip, make sure you have your ducks in a row. I always like to have a decent chunk of USD on me for emergencies after getting stuck at the Vietnam airport in Ho Chi Minh.
Pocket WiFi. I’ve lived in Japan two times now, and my first time here in 2009, I had no smart phone! I was often at the mercy of my friends touring me around, or I was occasionally lost. While many of the station attendants in the Metro are extremely helpful, why chance it? If you can fit it into your budget, pocket WiFi is a must and makes the trip way easier. No more returning the device to the airport, or even worse, through snail mail. I love my Tep Wireless pocket WiFi router… my Teppy! It is small, light, and cute. You will always know where you are, where you are going, and you can make a diary of where you’ve been. Let’s face it, we’re all dying to put things onto the Facebook or Instagram world for people to see while we’re off and exploring! Teppy makes it quick and easy, stress-free. Please use my discount code ‘KARENKIM’ when ordering!
Be relaxed. Did you cram as much into your itinerary as you possibly could? Maybe that is your style, but wherever you can avoid it, pick a few favorites and enjoy them to the fullest. The last thing you need is to come home from vacation needing a vacation. If you rush from one place to the next you’re also bound to miss something, and how present can you be in the moment when you are already onto the next one? I’ve been planning less lately and realizing that less is indeed more in most cases. Another important tip I have to remind myself when traveling abroad is to breathe. A good deep belly breath that inflates your stomach is sometimes the difference between fight or flight mode activation. Nine times out of ten these other places you visit are doing things different from the way you might advise. Oddly enough, for many places these ‘odd’ ways of doing things actually work, i.e. Japan and their many stamps! It’s easier to relax and go with the flow than it is to fight about things. Enjoy vacation to the max, you may not get that many a year!
Pack a bag in a bag. Traveling light on the way to your destination is essential, and bringing home your favorite treats is also essential. I have run into a few issues with receiving packages at customs. Avoid that if you can and put an extra duffel bag in your carry on suitcase. If you don’t need it, you can still check the bag on your way home and lighten the load so you deplane in good spirits. If you did find a few treasures, they’ll be able to ride with you all the way back to your origination. Some resorts in Southeast Asia will even collect things like school supplies or flashlights upon arrival. If you have some extra room to fill on the way over, check with your resort and see if there is a donation box of some sort.
These are just a few of my travel recommendations, most of which I have learned after making a mistake! Hope this helps some of you out there, if you don’t follow me already, I put most of my tips, tricks, and life hacks on my Instagram account so make sure to check it out and give a follow! IG: yoga_travel_happyhr_repeat