You’re on vacation but your smart phone can’t save you now. You’ve arrived in Europe and you didn’t want to shell out the extra money for an international data plan for your phone. Why should you? Everywhere has WiFi! Except where you are right now . . . and you have no idea where to go or what to do . . .
We take our 24/7 access to the internet for granted. The moment we have a question, need directions, or have the nagging urge to watch cat videos, our laptops and smart phones provide without fail. But when you go overseas, international data plans can become expensive and coverage can run the gamut from robust to nonexistent in the span of a few miles.
You’re on an international vacation so you’re obviously looking to try something out of the ordinary. Here are 4 tips that will help you make the most of a new travel experience.
- Learn how to drive a stick shift: Yeah your smart phone wouldn’t have really helped you out either way on this one (except maybe to watch a YouTube video on driving stick – but it’s really not the same . . .).
Ubiquitous automatic shift cars are mostly a North America thing. Pretty much everywhere else people drive stick shifts. Sure you can rent an automatic shift car while abroad, but it will cost you and the options are limited. Ask a friend to teach you and head to an empty parking lot. First gear is always the hardest. It’s a piece of cake from there!
- Be ok with approaching strangers: Trying to find the best place to eat by slogging through online reviews is a hassle. GPS’ing your location if you’re lost may not be an option without a signal. So talk to the locals! They know the best places to go and how to get there. Start with local business owners or hotel staff – they often speak multiple languages and service is their thing. Want an even better insight? Go to a local bar and chat up the regulars.
- Learn to estimate currency and measurement conversions: Most of the world deals in kilometers, liters, and Celsius rather than miles, gallons, and Fahrenheit.
And you don’t want a surprise on your credit card statement when you’ve just been handing over the plastic and not thinking about what you’re spending. Learn some basic conversions so you can do a little math on the fly. The calculator on your smart phone doesn’t need a signal to work, you just need to have an idea of the numbers to punch in. Not great on math? Whip yourself up a little cheat card to keep on you with currency and measurement conversions.
- Learn a language: And I don’t mean just learning “Do you speak English?” in a foreign tongue. Google Translate is clunky and of no use if you don’t have any service. Before you leave for vacation try out free apps like Duolingo to get you started on the basics. Though pricey, I can personally attest that Rosetta Stone courses are excellent for romance languages (such as French, Spanish, and Italian). Knowing some of the local language will catapult a scratch-the-surface-visit into a real immersive experience. The locals will appreciate it and it’s a huge confidence boost when navigating a new place.