How to make the most of your next trip abroad

How to make the most of your next trip abroad (via StackCommerce)

Traveling abroad is a thrilling and enriching experience, but it comes with some unique challenges. It may feel daunting when you haven’t even started packing, but there’s always something you can do to get more from your time abroad, whether you’re looking for ways to stretch your budget, connect with the culture, or just find the best spot for a soak by the sand.

Anyone can jump on a plane and find somewhere fun to be, but a savvy traveler can get more from their time abroad, and sometimes they can do it without breaking the bank. Check out these five travel hacks to find out how.

1. Go Where Your Money Means More

A trip to Hawaii may sound romantic, but the the Aloha state isn’t the only place where you can find pristine beaches and delectable dishes. A great way to stretch your travel budget is to choose a destination where the cost of living is a bit lower.

The first step is to research budget-friendly destinations, places where your dollar is literally worth more than it might be elsewhere. Check conversion rates or opt for places where you can lean into free experiences like hikes and sightseeing. Not all activities need to come with a reservation fee, and the locals are a great resource for finding fun activities that won’t break the bank.

2. Pack Light to Travel Cheap

It’s easy to over-pack when you’re at home. Of course you need everything in your house. That’s why you bought it in the first place. However, once you’re in your hotel, you might realize that third checked bag was about as necessary as the second.

When you’re making your packing list, plan based on what you’re actually going to do, not what you might do. If you have no intention of summiting a snowy mountain, maybe that winter coat can stay home. If you’re going somewhere with variable temperature, opt for versatile clothing you can mix and match. Your cold-weather clothes could just as easily be layers of warm-weather attire.

The hidden benefit of packing light is there’s less risk of losing your luggage. If your bags never have to leave your sight, the only person that can lose them is you. That also means you don’t have to pay extra baggage fees, wait at the carousel, or find a way to transport all those bags to and from the airport.

3. Learn the Local Language with Rosetta Stone

Traveling is as much about the people as it is about the place, and it’s a whole lot harder to connect with people if you can’t talk to them. The tourist spots may be fun and familiar, but the real adventure lies with the locals, which means learning another language.

You don’t need to be fluent to ask for restaurant recommendations, and you don’t need to be a polyglot to get directions, but Rosetta Stone is here to help you from start to finish. This language learning app gives you access to lessons in 25 different languages: German, Italian, Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, and more.

Rosetta Stone is a great option to study with before you ever board the plane because you can customize your lessons. If you want to practice listening or refine your pronunciation, there’s speech recognition tech to help you along the way. If you want to learn new words for things like ordering dinner or asking directions, you can try reading and writing exercises.

You won’t become fluent in a night, but you might not need to. There’s a whole lot of space between needing a translator and knowing how to order a drink when you finally make it out of the airport, and it all starts when you get a lifetime subscription to Rosetta Stone for $151.99 with code ROSETTA. That deal only lasts until June 16 though.

4. Plan Your Itinerary Wisely

If the world is your oyster, then your travel itinerary is the menu you order it from. You can’t experience everything a whole country has to offer in a single vacation, but proper planning can help you get the most from a limited stay.

Research restaurants in advance and decide which days you might want to visit them. Better yet, make the reservations before you even get on the plane. The same goes for attractions that might be crowded or tourist magnets. Plan every trip you take with the focus and precision of a Disneyland vacation. There might be lines. the food might end up being expensive, but planning ahead means you can avoid peak hours and have a snack in your pocket.

The best part about a travel itinerary is it’s entirely in your control. If you don’t want to rush from landmark to landmark, then don’t. Plan some unstructured time. Schedule a seaside siesta. Your vacation is yours to plan. Your itinerary is just how you structure your adventure to make sure you get the most from the time you have.

5. Be Smart About Your Smartphone

First thing’s first, make sure you can actually use your phone when you land. An eSim is a useful tool that could help you stay connected around the world, and they also help avoid roaming charges.

Once that’s squared away, it could be helpful to download everything you need in advance. It might be harder to find a signal when you’re knee-deep in jungle. If you need a machete just to clear a path, it might be safe to assume your texts won’t get through either.

Download a map before you go into the jungle. Use locally saved tools for translating, navigating, and scheduling. Your Google Calendar may hold your whole world, but having your itinerary saved in your notes app may be a little easier on your battery. As a related precaution, it may be useful to bring along a portable power bank if you’re going somewhere outlets are scarce or incompatible with your chargers.

Travel Smart and Travel Well

Your next vacation may be one for the books, and a little planning could make that happen. You don’t have to blow your budget just getting somewhere fun, and you don’t have to stick to parts known. Now all that’s left is to find a map and start packing a bag.

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