‘Whee travel

Don’t get me wrong, America is great. But sometimes, you know, sometimes that wanderlust really just gets a hold of you and a twelve-hour road trip to Niagra Falls just won’t cut it. What do you do then? Travel isn’t limited to the things between the Atlanta and Pacific oceans, you know? Get out there! And by “there”, I mean “the world”.Maybe you want to find yourself, maybe you want to find someone else. Maybe you want to stand on the other side of the planet, maybe you just want to get lost. Maybe you were born with the travel gene or maybe you just want to see Paris before you die. Regardless, with these simple travel tips, you can make this lonely planet a little less so.Apply for your passport and necessary visas right now. Well, not right now. Finish reading this article first. But right after that, go apply for the necessary paperwork to travel! Keep in mind that if you are planning on an extended visit or working in another country, there is likely additional paperwork that will need to be done. Do all of this far, far in advance. This is not like renting a tuxedo. You can not wait until the last moment and still get what you want in time for the big dance. Do it now!Learn about your destination. This should be relatively self explanatory. I’m not necessarily recommending that you learn every single thing about a culture, as a little surprise can add spice to a trip, but there are certain details you should be aware of. Learn cultural traditions like whether or not you should remove your shoes upon entering a building, shake hands or bow, or whether to expect a porcelain toilet or a hole in the floor. Also, a rough idea of where, geographically, you will be couldn’t hurt.On that note, it’s worth mentioning that the climate of today’s world is not always entirely friendly for travel. Consult www.travel.state.gov or a trustworthy equivalent before going anywhere. You may want to learn about U.S. Embassies that will be in your area, or even register with them so that your presence will be known and you may be contacted in the case of an emergency.Take it easy on the fun substances. Seriously, just because the laws in a country outside of the United States may be a little more tolerant towards shifty behavior or drinking ages doesn’t mean you have to abuse the privilege. Amsterdam has plenty of other things to see and do. Don’t completely waste your time in another country, dig it?Don’t be stupid in general. Don’t give or accept packages from or to strangers. Don’t allow strangers to pack your bags for you. Don’t leave your bags unattended in one place for extended periods of time. Don’t wear fanny packs or other paraphernalia that will brand you as a rich American tourist. If you are in France, do not wear the “I Love France” shirt and a beret you bought in the airport gift shop. Don’t wear excessive jewelry and don’t carry more money or credit cards than you will need. Consider how you feel about tourists and be aware that people in other countries likely feel the same way.Be respectful. There is no reason to be ashamed of your country of origin, but keep in mind that you are visiting another country with its own history and traditions and laws and as long as you are in it you are expected to abide by them. Don’t assume that just because you are from America you will be afforded the same privileges you are at home. Keep an open mind, try new things, enjoy yourself, but never forget that you are not in the U.S. That’s kind of the whole point anyway, isn’t it?Keep both eyes open. As I mentioned, the times being what they are, the world abroad is not always friendly towards Americans. Try to avoid foreign demonstrations or other situations that may not be friendly towards you. Avoid dangerous situations before they happen, if possible. However, if you do happen to find yourself in an unpleasant situation, politely inform everyone that, “I’m from Canada, eh?”With a little foresight and planning, a trip abroad can be incredibly rewarding. There are thousands upon thousands of places to see and things to do in this world and it would be a shame to miss out. Keep these simple tips in mind and consult www.travel.state.gov for any further questions about where to register for a passport, visa or anything else you might be curious about.