Navigate the post office – International travel tip

Next time you want to mail a postcard, skip the hotel concierge and mail it off the same way the locals do: at the post office.

Travelers to international countries stick to their comfort zones more than they realize, and having to perform a routine task in a foreign land is a great way to shake things up. How much is a stamp? Which line do you stand in? How can you convey to the clerk what you need?

The post office presents a unique yet universal challenge — and a great chance for people-watching!

[Photo: Flickr | infomatique]

Keep tabs on your tabs – International travel tip

Carry an envelope to keep every charge slip you accrue — but before filing them away, write the date, location, and reason for the charge on them.

Your monthly statement will likely list the charge detail in the language of the country where you traveled. Having your own notes on the receipts will give you a way to reconcile to your statement and provide extra assurance that all charges were legitimate.

[Photo: Flickr | Tim Morgan]

Meet locals (and save money) hiking through Europe – International travel tip

Most travelers are keen to mingle with locals while taking in the sights. Do both and save money by hiking along the fjords and fjells of Scandinavia and/or the soaring majesty of the Alps.

Don’t like the idea of lugging your gear over the mountains? No worries. Join one of the following hiking clubs that maintain hut-to-hut hiking trails and get discounts on accommodations. This lets you can pack light and spend each night in the company of local hiking enthusiasts:

Happy trails!

[Photo: Flickr | Geir Halvorsen]

Pack spare passport photos – International travel tip

When traveling abroad, it is a good idea to have an extra set of passport photos packed among your belongings.

In the event that your passport is lost or stolen, you can save valuable time by immediately taking these photos to the embassy or consulate when you apply for a replacement. Without the photos, you may find yourself frantically searching for a photo lab in a potentially unfamiliar city or town.

[Photo: Flickr | selmerv]

Don’t tell hawkers where you’re from – International travel tip

Hawkers from Brazil to Thailand are excellent psychologists. Very often, when you say “no thank you” to whatever they’re selling, they will ask where you’re from. This is not just an effort to engage you: they’re trying to figure out what approach to use next and what price to offer.

They know that what works on a German will not necessarily work on an American, and vice versa. They also know that a Norwegian might happily pay a price that would seem exorbitant to someone from a country with a much lower cost of living.

[Photo: Flickr | gripso_banana_prune]