Many of us travel for short trips frequently. Whether that’s within one country or internationally. In today’s globalised world travelling has become much easier, especially within Europe! So the question is – how to make the best out of those trips (both personal and business assignments)? How can you prepare beforehand to not waste time when you’re already in the location?
Check immigration rules
For all of us with European passports travelling around this continent (and many others, for that matter) is so easy now. It’s not like that for everyone though. So tip number one – before any trip to a new country check whether you are allowed to arrive without any visa or invitation letter or you need to arrange some documents. Sometimes it depends on the purpose of your visit!
Another practical tip before you even decide to go somewhere – check if you need a vaccination against certain local diseases. Or if you’ve had these vaccinations at some point earlier in your life, check whether you need to repeat the dose in the future. Really important as it might impact the timing of your journey. Some vaccinations need to be done even 6 weeks in advance in order to actually start working!
Another thing I always check when I go to a new city is the public transport. Is there any? How much is it? What are the options? What is the closest stop or station around where I’m staying? Are there any rules about using it?
Seems naive or overly planned? Maybe. But too many times before I have spent ages trying to figure out the transport after I’ve arrived to a destination. I didn’t know where to go, just had the address, it was before Google maps as well so it made it even harder. Now I take half an hour to research my routes at home and when I arrive I know exactly what ticket to buy (and hence usually save money by avoiding tourist cards etc!) and where to go.
Look at the city map
Connected to the point above, I usually spend a couple of minutes just looking at the map of the city. Just to familiarize myself with the names of the districts, see where the main monuments/meet up points are, looking at where my accommodation is in relation to what I came to do/see.
This saved my life not once not twice when I was a bit lost and there was no one around to ask for help or when I was in a rush and my phone did not have reception. At least I knew more or less which way to go and when I saw the name of the street or a monument that I was looking at on the map before, I knew whether I was going the right or wrong direction.
Learn basic phrases in the local language
I know, I know, “everyone” speaks English. Well, that’s not necessarily my experience. I have been in many places where speaking only English was not sufficient. At one point I needed help from someone who spoke the local language; the other I might have been charged the “tourist rate” for something if it wasn’t for the local person who was with me; another time I was just trying out the sign language with the taxi driver and yes, I got to where I was supposed to get to, but it was a frustrating process.
This is why I always encourage others to at least learn some basic words or phrases in the local language (whatever that might be). Even if it’s just hello, bye, thank you and ‘do you speak English/any other language you speak’ – it’s already great as it will likely make people smile and be more positive towards you. In addition I like to write down some words related to food and restaurants so that I can figure out what I’m ordering if there is no English menu available.
Be prepared for the unknown!
This last tip is less specific than the others, I won’t lie 🙂 It relates to those of you who will be going either for business or tourism. Be prepared for what you’re not prepared for. What it means is that you need to accept that there will be things that you will not know or understand, that you might make some mistakes around business etiquette or not be comfortable with the local ways of working and being.
What else do you do before your short trips, whether that’s for a new country or just a new city within the country you live in? Do you prepare or you’d rather just go with the flow and see what happens?
You might also like: