There is surprisingly so much nervousness over taking that first big leap – leaving the country. There are dozens of excuses, few of them valid. I hear them all the time, but the reality is that international travel is not as intimidating as you might believe it is. I want to give you ten reasons to stop hesitating and take the plunge. I promise you’ll never regret it.
- So Many People Speak English: Obviously this will vary by destination, but people are paralyzed by the fear that they will be unintelligible to the locals. The fact is that there are very few places in the world where you won’t be able to find someone who can understand you. Do not let this deter you from the overseas adventures that await you.
- Baggage Charges: I’m not even kidding you here – let’s just say you were going to travel some place within the US and check two bags. Unless you’re flying Southwest or if you have an airline credit card (both of which we recommend, by the way), those bags will cost you at least $50 each way – adding up to another $100. Swap Panama City, Panama for its name-parallel in Florida, and you’ll not only have a different adventure, you won’t have to fork over a baggage fee x4.
- Speaking Another Language is Enlightening: Basque is my third language, and yet it took until I was learning Basque vocabulary before I realized just how enlightening it can be. The verb for “to help” in the language that predates Latin is “lagundu” – which isn’t really interesting until you consider that it’s taken from the noun “lagun” – meaning “friend.” Thus, in Basque, the notion of “helping” is articulated as “friending.”
- Food is so Freaking Good: Guys, I am here to tell you… you will eat meals that will rock your palate’s world. Something as simple as “Salsa Lizano” in Costa Rica will introduce your tastebuds to flavors that break boundaries of previous experience. I had “sweet corn soy ice cream” in Belize – umm, yeah… it was pretty much a deliciousness explosion that I crave to this day.
- Bargains: I’ve bragged before about the $35 suit I bought in London – and it’s not like that’s bargain shopping destination. Part of the reason I’m thrilled about Panama in 2013 is because I can watch blockbuster movies (in English) there for $3.50, load up on $2-4 kids clothes, and eat $5 restaurant meals.
- Sugar Cane Soda: This is almost negated by the fact that I don’t often find Mt. Dew overseas. Nevertheless, there is just something about an ice-cold non-corn-syrup Coke in a glass bottle on a powder sand beach that just makes you feel good about life.
- America the Beautiful: No matter how much I travel and no matter how much fun I have while I’m gone, I am always enthusiastic about coming home. We appreciate the simple things so much more when we’ve gone a series of days without ice. I mean, when was the last time you were truly grateful for warm running water? Spend some time without it and you will be enthralled.
- Broaden your Horizons: Other cultures have great traditions. Being exposed to people who think differently enables you to have a perspective that I believe genuinely makes you a better person. It is so easy to get caught up in our “rigmarole” and pretend that we’re the only thing in town. It just comes as a really good reminder to consider others as equals and have a sense for what makes people who they are.
- Interface with History: The better part of world history has taken place outside of the US. If you never leave, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to stand atop ancient ruins that were home to mega-civilizations of previous centuries. Europe is so rich with meaningful history that you could spend a lifetime discovering and still never find enough.
- Stretch Your Dollars: I met a couple who spent $50k traveling all over Asia – the crazy part was that it took them 3 years to spend it all. There are still places where our dollars will get us pretty far. It may not be like that forever, so it only makes sense to seize those opportunities and maximize our adventure by economizing our expenses. I’ve stayed in some great hotels for $20 in some places – still not as cheap as the free hotels I get with the myriad of points programs I belong to, but cheap enough to brag about whenever I get the chance.
If you’re even just the slightest bit closer to taking an international trip after reading these little bits, then I’m satisfied that I did my job. Do us all a favor and leave a comment about where you’re headed. There’s nothing like travel buddies and we hope to have them everywhere.
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