Traveling to a new destination is a special kind of adrenaline rush. You never know what you’re going to find, especially if you’re heading overseas and you don’t speak the language. You can always hit up the standard tourist destinations, but where’s the fun in that? Here are some tips and tricks to make traveling to a new and unfamiliar area safer and more fun for all involved.

Invest in International Cell Service

Just because your phone worked well during your domestic travels doesn’t mean it will still work when you get off the plane in your destination country. Before you leave, talk to your cell phone carrier and invest in international cell and data service. It might not be as fast as you’re used to, but it will enable you to make phone calls, search Google Maps and use other applications that could be helpful.

If your carrier doesn’t offer international service, check out the shops in the airport when you arrive — many will sell local, pre-paid SIM cards that you can just pop into your phone so that you’ve got service during your trip.

Follow Travel Blogs and Social Media

There are tons of travel-based social media accounts and blogs, and they can be a valuable source of information, especially if you’re looking to travel off the beaten path. Travel groups on Facebook can also be useful because they allow you to connect with people who have traveled to these places so that you can get advice on the best places to stay, the best locations to visit and the best ways to stay safe during your travels.

Learn to Read the Traffic Signs

Traffic signs have been a major staple since ancient Rome. The first recorded road was Via Appia, the Appian Way in Rome, and it was marked by milestones, the ancient ancestors of the road signs that we have today. Even if you don’t speak the language, learning to read the road signs can help you figure out where you’re going.

If you don’t have the time to learn a new language, consider downloading an app that translates signs and other text using your phone’s camera. It isn’t the perfect solution, but it can work in a pinch.

Be Flexible

Having an itinerary can help keep you on track, but you might end up missing a lot of amazing locations because of your rushing from one destination to the next. Let yourself be a little bit flexible when it comes to your travels. You might find something life-changing just because you took the time to slow down and smell the roses.

Go Local

There’s no better way to learn the ins and outs of a new location than by having a local show you around. It can be a little harder if you don’t speak the local language, but there are tools to help you. Airbnb, the global home-sharing service, offers a Go Local service — people around the world open up their homes with the express purpose of helping you discover all that their city has to offer.

Traveling to a new area doesn’t have to be scary or dangerous. Spend some time learning the local language and connecting with other travelers. Connecting with the locals doesn’t hurt either, and they might be able to show you some hidden spots that you’d miss out on otherwise.

Photo provided by the author.

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