Okay, 2 days to go. Time to gather and think and find and buy. While preparing for this trip for us, I thought I would post some helpful tips for you future Non-US adventure types.
1. At least a week before you go, make sure to purchase a helpful book about the country you are going to and read it. Read every single word. You don’t want to offend a non-egotistical (er, excuse me, non-American) countries culture by bumbling your way around with loud inappropriate American comments or gestures, that you didn’t even think about.
We went to Barnes and Noble and purchased Top 10 Iceland for $14. The best purchase by far that we’ve made for this trip.
It comes with a map of the entire island on the inside front cover and a map of Reykjavik on the inside back cover. Also on the reverse of the Reykjavik city map is a laminated bus map. The wonderful top ten pull out map helps you get acquainted with top 10’s that will fit into any adventurer’s liking, and pocket for that matter.
2. When you read your travel book, make sure to pay particular attention to the “Culture”, or “Street Smart”, or “While you’re here” section of your book. Here you will find important tips on their cultural differences. For instance; in Iceland tipping is considered an insult and the whole island is relatively smoke-free unless you are inside your own house or car. If you don’t own it you can’t smoke in, near, or around it.
3. Make copies. One for a contact back at home, and one for you. Okay, maybe I do watch a little too much “Locked up Abroad”. And yes, according to my travel book there is very little major crime in Iceland. But its the old wives tale… Or is it mom’s weird adage that never really made sense… “Wear clean underwear, in case you get in a crash”. Oh no, wait, it’s “If you fall and break a leg, don’t come running to me”.
Well, anyway, the point is… be prepared for a just in case. Copy your passport, ID, flight itinerary, hotel address, and specific event itinerary and leave these things at home. Also find the website and country code and phone number for the US Embassy in the country you are going to. Write these things down on the print out with your hotel address and put everything in an envelope in a prominent place.
4. Find out about cell service and wi-fi. We found out that our cell phones will not work for texts and calls, but because they are wi-fi enabled we can easily use them on the go in Iceland and communicate via email or Facebook if need be. We chose not to pay the fee to upgrade our cell phones to world-wide coverage for this trip.
5. Purchase at least one AC converter. Every place outside of the USA runs on different electricity than we do and you will need to charge your phone, iPad, digital camera, etc. Bring a multi-plug power strip to plug into the AC converter as well.
6. Pay attention to the weather. We all know that weather people are not always accurate even daily, let alone weeks ahead of time. But download a weather app to your phone and start checking it often one week before you go. This will help you know what type of clothes to bring or not bring so you don’t over pack.
7. Don’t over pack. Seriously, do you really need all 12 pairs of pumps, 25 diamond headbands and 30 super cute scarves for a 7 day trip? They don’t know you there. Step back and take a practical look at what you really need for the trip.
The more flash and bling bling you represent is just asking for trouble. Besides there is usually a hefty fee for more than one (or two depending on the airline) checked bags, and less potential to lose luggage if you can take it down a notch. Take these tips from Heather Poole, a flight attendant who can pack for 10 days in a carry on, if you really are looking for packing light strategies.
8. Invest in an extra camera battery. I am a “like it a lot and am pretty good at it” hobby photographer. I have a DSL camera. I love to take pictures of everything with it. Of course, I am going to bring it with us. I have been in the situation where my camera battery has died just in time to miss a perfect shot. Although, I agree, an extra battery can be expensive. Its well worth it to have both batteries charged before you set out on your adventure.
9. If you’re flying coach, anywhere outside of the US, you need to be prepared. It’s a given that international flights are longer. Which means they are less and less comfortable as the flight goes on. Also there is a very large chance that one way or another you could be a red-eye. I found this great article by The Points guy. He gives 17 tips for surviving a long flight in coach.