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Travel & Places

Why do some people fail to benefit from international travel and how do you improve the understanding of countries you visit?

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June 01, 2009 7:05AM

When a person who doesn't travel well or is very inexperienced in multiple cultures is exposed to time frames, languages, foods, customs, etc. that are different from what they normally experience, it might cause them to be confused and anxious. To get the most out of travel, it's best to (1) research the country so you'll have an idea of what you'll be experiencing; (2) go with the thought that you'll live like the locals live and won't expect things to be like they are "at home"; (3) choose several specific places that you want to see and be ready to change your plans, if necessary; (4) show up for buses, trains, and planes on schedule, but be prepared if they're delayed (in other words, have an alternate plan in case of problems); (4) be willing to talk to people and respect the fact that you're in their country, you are a guest, and always follow the local laws & customs. Don't carry too much, protect your belongings (especially your passport), never take out money unless you're buying something, and check the locks on your doors at the hotel. Having a great international trip is the goal. Many people leave their heads in their own country and travel with only their feet. Your whole self should be included in the travel experience; when you travel, always think the best of the people you're visiting, don't be afraid to ask questions, be courteous and friendly but not overly friendly, and (for Americans... especially the guy I saw at Harrod's in London), don't wear a shirt made from your country's flag. Try to make friends who will be your friends forever. There are wonderful, warm, intelligent, charming people all over the world.... Many people who travel fail to maintain contact and it keeps them from having an address book filled with the names of international friends. If a person becomes prejudiced through travel, he/she shouldn't do it. It isn't worth the cost, time and trouble to travel, only to return with a twisted idea of how the world lives. The fact is, people laugh, cry, have babies, get sick, feel lonely, think of lost opportunities, want their children to have a better life, and try to advance in their jobs everywhere in the world. Everyone bleeds and everyone has a sensitive side that makes them hope they're loved. Everyone.