Me after climbing the Great Wall of China. At this point, I have not climbed down yet, so I'm still relatively happy.
I hope everyone's having a grand old time in the U.S. of A. without me. Since I'm now a seasoned world traveler allllll the way over here in China, I thought I would share a few of my personal tips to keep in mind whenever you leave the country . . . even if it's just to Canada.
1) Do your research
Find out if your credit and/or debit card will work in the country you're traveling to. Also, alert your bank and credit card company that you'll be leaving the country. In Europe, my debit card worked just fine, but I've been having some problems in Asia - it's a good thing I carried some cash with me!
2) Carry some cash
This is directly related to the first step - carry some U.S. money ca$h with you that you can exchange in the country you're heading to. If something happens to your credit cards, at least you'll have backup.
3) Stay hydrated
Whether you're somewhere as unbelievably hot as China (like me!) or just doing a lot of walking around a big city, it's important to stay hydrated and healthy. Carry a bottle of water with you and don't drink out of the tap, and think about skipping ice in your drink. The last thing you need is a violent sickness to ruin your trip!
4) Bring medicine with you
Especially if you're traveling to a place that doesn't speak English, bring essential medicines with you like painkiller, stomach medicine, and cold medicine, just in case sickness strikes. Better a few extra ounces in your suitcase than hours or even days of discomfort during your vacation!
5) Carry essential documents
Keep hold of your passport, visa, insurance card, etc. like your life depends on it. (Your life might actually depend on it!) Leave copies of these documents at home with relatives, and keep copies in your luggage just in case you lose your travel documents. It will be much easier to get a replacement passport if you can prove you had one in the first place!
Following these five steps helps me relax and have fun on any trip - even this one, which is not so much a vacation as it is a volunteer trip! I'm about to embark on a journey to Chinese Wal-Mart, so I'll let you know how that goes later!