I have been traveling as part of my career for almost 15 years, and in this solo episode I share a few tips about international travel for those of you who are considering it for work or leisure:
Do your homework
- Take time to figure out the money situation (can you get cash on the ground? How much is a typical meal? That way you can plan how much you need and how long you can stay.
- Understand the in-country logistics ( can you take trains and taxis or do you need to go hop on the local bus or pedicabs?) Is car rental difficult or impossible if you aren’t licensed in that country?
- What about celebrations and holidays? You probably can’t get anything done in a lot of countries that celebrate major religious holidays – businesses shut down and everyone is with their families so you need to be prepared.
Be prepared for a mindset shift
- If you are a person of color, it is likely that you may be the only one you see – for a loooong time! I was the only African American around for the first 9 days of my trip to India until I reached the Taj Mahal. I was a bit of a spectacle because people just don’t encounter you very often, so be prepared to take a lot of pictures holding peoples babies, for staring and a lot of questions. People are genuinely curious and I’ve found that they just want to know more about you and what brought you to their country
- There are different rules of engagement. I had to learn very quickly that it is not always acceptable for me to extend my hand for a handshake or even make direct eye contact with men in some places that I have traveled. The best thing to do is to observe before acting. Watch how strangers engage one another and follow suit. You will make mistakes, but that’s ok! One thing I always recommend is to bring a long scarf with you if you are traveling to any country with large Muslim populations. I found this useful in Turkey, Indonesia and even recently in India, particularly if you are visiting mosques and other places where it is appropriate to have your head covered.
Packing smart will save you time and energy
- Pack only what you are willing to lose. I carry on when I can, and if I can’t I carry a few outfits in my carry on. If I check a bag, it’s filled with cheap clothes that I don’t care about.
- Hair care – If your hair is relaxed, I would suggest getting braids or another protective style for the duration of your travels. If you are going for several months or longer, and you might need to start asking locally for salon recommendations. You can also link up with travel groups like Nomadness which have Americans who have traveled extensively and can give recommendations. If your hair is natural, I would suggest buying and bottling your products in the US.
- Food-If you know you are a picky eater, and definitely if you have food allergies, try to pack some of your favorite snacks to get you through the trip. I was sooo happy I had some snacks from home to get me through. It’s definitely worth it!
My best advice is that if you have the opportunity to travel abroad – take it! It will teach you things about yourself that you may not discover otherwise. Check out the full episode here: bit.ly/rushhourmentor. You can also follow my travel adventures on Instagram, where I’ll keep you posted on my upcoming trips.
Let me know your travel questions by posting below!