Everyone does the cliché itinerary planning, but not many dig deep enough to truly leave worry-free to a new country. Here are five ways you can get to know the country you are visiting inside out and avoid any potential problems:
1. Download Google maps offline
For the longest time, I had been the old school 'map in hand' kind of person. While that hasn't changed and I still love to look at the non-virtual maps, I have come to learn the importance of having google maps. There are so many aspects like alleyways, narrow roads, distance and time that the hard copy maps do not show.
What's even better? Your google maps can actually be downloaded and saved on your phone, such that you wouldn't need an internet connection to get directions on a saved map.
Go here for the detailed instructions.
2. Know your geography
Read blogs, websites and watch YouTube videos to get the feel of the country you are traveling to. Understand the history, climate, demography and physical aspects of the country to truly connect with it. It doesn't have to be heavy research: just enough to make you feel confident enough in your knowledge about the country you are traveling to in order to better handle unforeseen or unpleasant circumstances.
A good source for referral is Geography Now, which is a YouTube channel dedicated to explaining the geography of different countries in an all-encompassing and interesting narration.
3. Learn the basics
In my opinion, language is a huge part of what makes a culture. It is the gateway to understanding people of a country. This is not to say that you should learn the native language of every country because that is next to impossible! However, knowing the numbers from 1-10 and a few important phrases like greetings, magic words and restaurant etiquettes could take you a long way. Seeing your willingness to adapt to a culture by using their language to communicate impresses the natives and creates an incentive for them to help you.
4. Read reviews
So many people overlook this one while doing their research since they think people's opinions aren't the expert's opinions. True, but false. The ratings you see on any hotel/restaurant, the stars, and the facilities, all exist because of the people that give them feedback. Any place with three or more bad reviews is not worth going to. Reviews also help paint a realistic picture of the place being visited, rather than the fancy website portrayal. It is the reason you are provided with good service in places you visit.