As summer approaches, the travel industry is beginning to gear up for the influx of summer travelers. Summer provides the perfect opportunity to escape the states and embed yourself into some new and exciting cultures. While traveling is a wonderful opportunity and experience, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to stay safe, move efficiently and, most importantly, make the most of your experience.

Safety first!

Yes, Eugene may not be the safest place in terms of crime. However, when you step into a big, international mega-city (think London or Beijing), things get a bit more risky. Protect your wallet. If a back pocket wallet is more your style, you should probably make a compromise. Pickpockets are incredibly common. Therefore, keep your wallet or any other important item, in your front pockets. For added safety, you can get yourself a body strapped wallet, easily concealed by your clothing.

Many potentially problematic situations arise during bouts of impairment. The appeal of a lower drinking age and the lax attitudes toward drinking can land some travelers in murky water. I’m not saying not to drink; it’s inevitable that you indulge in the bar/club scenes of the international circuit. I’m simply saying you should drink wisely.

Moreover, confrontations easily arise between tourists and locals. In case you didn’t know, not everyone is enamored with our great nation. Deal with it. Now, the worst thing you can do is fuel the fire. Just ignore anything critical, no matter how hard that is. You are at an incredible disadvantage, in terms of both language and the legal system.

Don’t trust anyone. I don’t mean you shouldn’t meet new people and interact with people from all over the world. In fact, I would highly recommend such experiences. However, be wary of your surroundings and the people you are with. Take everything with a grain of salt until people prove otherwise.

Culture shock and respect

If you get anything at all out of this quick guide, please let it be this. It is essential that you respect the culture you are visiting or embedding yourself in. American tourists carry a negative connotation, especially in Europe. Leave the arrogant attitudes stateside. Be respectful and you’ll find that most people will return that same sympathy. Remember, you are representing the United States. Therefore, strive to strengthen rather than damage our reputation.

Travel efficiently

Once you’re at your initial destination, you are now free to explore the continent. You may be surprised to find out that traveling and finding a place to stay abroad is quite simple. Hostels are the most efficient way to get a good night’s sleep, meet new people, and save yourself from bankruptcy. Don’t let the horror films frighten you; in reality, hostels are often well-managed institutions.

When it comes down to actual transportation, it’s important to weigh your options between planes and trains. Unlike the train systems in the United States, especially here on the West Coast, trains around the world are often highly modernized. However, discount airlines do exist. Sometimes you can find a plane ticket for cheaper than a train ticket. Do some research and save a few bucks for some beer with newfound buddies.

Traveling abroad is an incredible opportunity. Everyone should have the opportunity to experience and interact with international cultures outside of their own nation. However, this opportunity should not be squandered. If you’re lucky enough to travel abroad this summer or in the future, take with you a sense of responsibility. Don’t take your privilege for granted; there are plenty of people back home that would kill to have the same opportunity.

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