6 Fun Ways to Prepare for an International Trip
1. Download a language app
I highly recommend downloading a language-learning app on your phone or tablet, such as Duolingo, to learn some basic words and phrases from the country you’re visiting. Duolingo offers 37+ languages and will provide you with some relevant material (and some that can seem quite random). It helped me in Copenhagen when we walked into a bakery that had absolutely no English on its menu; I was thankful that I had at least become familiar with the Danish words for “bread” and “egg.”
2. Pick up a travel book about your destination
Read about the history and culture, the recommended areas to stay in and places to eat, and the sights to see. I love heading over to my town library’s travel section and browsing the books on my destination. My personal favorite brand is Lonely Planet; I find their organization straightforward and their suggestions noteworthy. You could also borrow a language-learning book/audio book while you’re there.
3. Learn about the country's tipping policy and general manners
This is something that I have previously forgotten to research ahead of time and has made for an awkward scramble when it came time to pay a bill or exit a taxi. Of course, when in doubt, a tip is almost always appreciated. I have found that it is simply reassuring to have thought about this beforehand and know whether or not it is customary.
4. Watch movies or read books that take place in that country or city
See a list of travel-themed movies here and a list of books set all around the world here! Doing this may also give you ideas on what to see and do in that country. Before I went to Scotland, I started reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. These books taught me quite a bit about the Jacobite rising and War of the British Succession, something that I most certainly would not have thought to research ahead of time. It thusly provoked me to add a stop at Culloden Moor, a pertinent battleground, to our itinerary. As I have continued reading the series, it’s so fun knowing that I have been to that exact spot.
5. Download a currency conversion app
By doing so, you can get familiar with the exchange rate and always have the currency converter at your fingertips when shopping internationally. An app that has worked well for me is XE Currency. It was a lifesaver in Norway, where prices for most things are outrageously high. I almost bought a singular $28.00 beer at the grocery store but, thanks to the app, decided to put that one back on the shelf and find something else!
6. Listen to travel podcasts
Another way I get hyped up about my trip is by listening to podcasts. Among my favorite travel-themed podcasts are Rick Steves Travel and Zero to Travel. Listening to conversation about cultures, people, history, sights, activities, travel tips and more is an engaging way to gain knowledge and ideas before a trip. It’s also convenient that you can download them beforehand and listen to them while you travel!