Wondering about which questions to ask when traveling abroad? Being proactive and speaking up before you get in a taxi, exchange money, or make a purchase is essential to having a stress-free trip and avoiding rookie tourist mistakes.
Here are the top 5 questions to ask when traveling abroad to avoid common travel mistakes:
Can I have a printed receipt?
Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft have eliminated this issue in many cities, as you can get a fare estimate before you book and track your route from the app; however, this is still on my list of questions to ask when traveling abroad just in case you need to take a cab.
Be sure to ask your driver for a far estimate and printed receipt as soon as you get in the vehicle. Having a printed receipt (not handwritten as is sometimes offered) can help protect you if you get into a meter dispute with a crooked cabbie.
If you book a private car ahead of time (e.g. a private airport transfer or a shuttle to an attraction) be sure to confirm that it’s your car before you get in (especially if you asked multiple companies for quotes!)…or you could end up like baby Emily and be certain you were about to be taken out by the Italian Mafia. Read about it here.
Do you accept credit cards?
This is an essential one of the questions to ask while traveling, but the key is asking BEFORE you order. Many restaurants abroad (i.e. not in the USA — although some places are reverting) are still “cash only” businesses. If you ask before you are seated, you’ll have the luxury of finding another place to dine if they don’t accept cards, or going to find at ATM at a leisurely pace if you really want to eat there.
When Smoky and I were in Prague, we made the mistake of assuming a burger place would take cards (I mean, they had WiFi and were playing Ed Sheeran, so it was an easy mistake), so since we found out AFTER we had ordered and eaten, I was tasked with running around Old Town Square in the dark like a maniac looking for an ATM while Smoky was held hostage in the restaurant.
And then I had to carry around hella Czech coins for the rest of my trip since I didn’t feel like giving the guy a $10 tip (y’all this place was barely even a cash only place — it was a COIN only place based on the change he gave me.)
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Do I have an international data plan?
Y’all. This is one of the most common travel mistakes and so it’s one of the most important questions to ask when traveling abroad.
The world is becoming increasingly connected, but certain companies seem to be lagging behind, so international data charges are a monster travelers should actively avoid. For example, when I travel with Smoky (a TMobile customer) she can just turn on her phone in any new country and it works like it would at home with no extra charges.
But if I did that ( a Verizon customer), I would literally have to sell my soul to lord satan to be able to afford it.
Thankfully, if you don’t have an international data plan you can easily
- Pick up a sim card with a few gigs of data on it at the airport or in the city center.
- Put your phone on airplane mode and hope there’s abundant free wifi available.
- Just use some walkie talkies or smoke signals or something idk.
What time does this close?
As an American, I’m used to things being open in fairly predictable patterns. Most offices operate roughly 9AM – 5PM and places to eat stay open until at least 10PM (often later) — but abroad, it’s often an entirely different story.
When I lived in Italy, places like offices, museums, and ancient sites would often close for lunch, or even an extended siesta in the middle of the day. Sometimes an attraction was open all weekend, so it was closed Mondays to make up for it.
A common travel mistake is to just assume the thing you want to do will be open. As you are planning your trip, be sure to note any peculiar closings or hours, especially if it’s a “must see” for you.
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Is my shampoo lid screwed on all the way?
OKAY Y’ALL. Common travel mistakes 101.
It’s story time. Story time about those days of yesteryear when I didn’t think I needed to put my toiletries in a plastic bag or double check that they were closed before, you know, zipping them into a confined space with my computer, clothing, and passport copies.
Turns out, face wash doesn’t make your camera clean and clear and under control…it just makes it hang out in a bucket of rice for a few hours while hoping for the best.
So, learn from my mistakes. One of the most important questions to ask when traveling abroad is simple: are my freaking toiletries closed?