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International Travel Tips for Globetrotters Part IV: Jetlag Tips & Destination Planning

by Nancy S. Wang

Jetlag/Altitude Sickness

  • Flying internationally causes jetlag because of the fact that you are crossing time zones. Some precautions to take include:

    a) drinking plenty of water and no alcohol intake;

    b) sticking with a bland diet;

    c) adjusting your watch according to your destination’s time clock and attempt to adhere to your arrival schedule – the sooner, the better.

  • If at all possible, attempt to plan your travel plans departing eastbound and returning westbound. It is more difficult to adjust to jetlag flying eastbound.
  • Take half of a sleeping pill; that dosage is adequate enough to drone out the noise around you.
  • Give yourself 2-3 days to acclimate to the altitude and time change.
  • Cut your ambitious itinerary in half.
  • Treat yourself to a relaxing massage once you reach your destination.

Destination Planning

  • Try to book your vacation during the "off-season" months. Not only are there significant cost savings to you the traveller, but also you will receive better service and treatment in restaurants, hotels, etc. It is also the most opportune time to interact with the locals.
  • For the most part, planning a tour when you arrive at your destination is significantly less expensive than when you book it from home. You eliminate the middleman in the process. If you are spontaneous and adventurous, this is the way to go.
  • Hop on a half-day city tour, to orient yourself to your new surroundings. This gives you the opportunity to decide which sights you would like to return to at a later date.
  • Instead of taking a group tour, consider hiring a personal driver. A driver can take you to off-the-beaten-path places. Being a "tourist" is fun, but being a "traveller" is travel at its best.
  • Consider taking local means of transportation. For example, take a tuk-tuk (3-wheel motor bike with a backseat for two) or a kalong (motorized canoe) down the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand. In Morocco, take a caleche (horse-drawn buggy) through the Medina (Old City). This offers a different perspective of the city, plus it is a great way to beat the maddening traffic jams.
  • To ensure that you don’t "lose" your hotel, especially in countries where you cannot speak or read the language, keep a copy of your hotel’s business card or matchbook, that you can show your taxi driver or a local to find your way back.
  • If you want to enjoy a fancy restaurant without paying top dollar, opt for lunch instead of dinner at the establishment. The menu is usually similar but costs a fraction of the price.
  • Avoid eating dairy products and fresh fruits, as well as vegetables that cannot be peeled.
  • Engage in the obsolete art of bartering, instead of using cash expenditures for your overseas purchases. Recent paperback novels, denim jeans, T-shirts, and baseball caps with American sports logos are valuable commodities in every foreign country.
  • Always bargain for a better deal, especially in marketplaces and hotels. In hotels, always ask for an upgrade. Although Americans are not accustomed to bargaining, it is a way of life in a lot of other countries. As a rule of thumb, never pay more than 50% of the initial asking price.
  • If you photograph locals and offer to send photos, follow through with your promise. In poorer countries where locals have limited financial means, a photograph is priceless.
  • Be spontaneous. Hang out at local places. Don’t be misled by what is recommended by the standard guidebooks (like the trendiest hotspot), otherwise you will miss out on experiencing the essence of your destination. Besides, what’s the point of visiting a foreign country?

All International Travel Tips for Globetrotters Articles:
How to Pack
What to Pack & Airport Tips
In-Flight Activities & Customs/Immigration
Jetlag Tips & Destination Planning
Money Matters & Personal Safety