Summer is a time for fun in the sun and it’s also the perfect time to travel. What could be more fun than traveling?
I was provided the incredible opportunity to travel on a Birthright trip to Israel this summer (shout out to Bus 1088!). I had never been on a trip like this before, I mean I’ve gone on big group trips before, but nothing could compare to this trip. I traveled with 40 people I had never met to a foreign country that I had never been to… you could imagine how hard it was to pack for this trip! I prepared as much as possible, but no amount of preparation could have readied me for some of the most amazing (and hilarious) experiences that I have ever had while on this trip. So, I am here to take my experiences and provide some advice to you. Here are the 4 rules you need to know before you travel overseas!
1. Experience Everything There Is To Experience: The biggest mistake you can make while traveling is not experiencing everything the place you’re visiting has to offer. And when I say everything I mean EVERYTHING! I’m talking everything from food, to shopping, to sight-seeing; do it all because that’s how you’ll create the best memories. If you have an issue, like being a picky eater or having an injury while sight-seeing (for example: I went intense mountain climbing in Israel), try to make the best effort in those tough circumstances. You can always get around those things (by taking a cab or just tasting different foods) and still experience everything a foreign country has to offer.
2. Always Be Prepared For A Mishap: Whether it’s keeping a little extra money in your bank account or having a pack of band aids ready to go, you should always be prepared for at least a few mishaps while traveling in another country. For example, in Israel I went to get money out of an ATM in Tel Aviv and I accidentally hit the button for 500 shekels (about $138 in America). The amount of my freaking out that ensued was one for the record books (I actually yelled at the ATM to take the money back) but I now know that it really wasn’t a big deal. At the time it was really scary and stressful but I was thankful that I did have that extra money in my account.
Be aware of certain societal differences with things like electricity and electronics. Foreign countries may not have WiFi everywhere you go so make sure you set up a go-phone or talk to your phone company about an international plan for the time that you’re gone. Also, most foreign countries have different outlets, (think back to that scene in Just Married when Ashton Kutcher thinks it’s okay to plug-in an American “toy” into a foreign outlet) so be sure you have a few different electrical converters so you can plug your electronics in anywhere you go. I learned my lesson the hard way with my hair straightener. Some countries may not be able to handle electronics like straighteners (who knew?!) so be sure that what you’re plugging in won’t blow out the power and ruin your electronic device.
3. Take lots of pictures: I’m not the kind of person who takes a lot of pictures, but in this situation I forced myself to be a photographer for the ten days that I was in Israel. Take pictures of the sights, get pictures of yourself with the sights in the background, and if you’re with people get pictures with them too! You will always be able to look back and remember how amazing your trip was. Also, if your friends took pictures with you, make sure you get a copy saved in your personal albums (these days that’s made easy with the download button on Facebook). And if you happen to be crafty, you can print the pictures and make a scrapbook or a hard copy of a photo album so that you don’t have to rely on the internet to show people your trip.
4. The final and most important rule of them all, HAVE FUN! You never know if you’ll be back in that country ever again so you should make the most of it. Luckily with the nature of my trip we had Israeli soldiers come on our trip with us for five of the ten days. But if you’re not as lucky to be on a trip that does that for you, try and meet the locals if you can and get to know the culture you’re in. Your experiences will be that much greater. Stay positive and remember that you may not get a chance to go overseas again for a while, so you have to make the most of it. Experience everything you can and have fun while doing it!
I’m so glad that I was able to experience a trip overseas like this one, I wouldn’t trade the experiences or the new friends I made for anything. So if you’re looking to travel overseas this summer, be sure to follow these tips so you can have an amazing experience too… and hopefully you can avoid some of the same mishaps that I had (stupid hair straightener…)!
Ariel Schiller/ CW44 Tampa Bay