Traveling Ted is a blog that takes readers along on my adventures hiking, canoeing, skiing, and international backpacking. Many blogs focus on one aspect of backpacking, but I tackle both the outdoor adventure side and international exploration as well.

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Grand Palace in Thailand

Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

Adventure travel to a new country is one of the most exciting things one can do.  It is also great revisiting countries too, but there is not the same type of anticipation as when one is making their virgin trip to a new country.

It is not just because there is the desire to knock countries off the have been list, although that plays a part, but there is something about the thrill of the unknown.  No matter how many countries one has traveled to one cannot 100% know what to expect about the country until they are on the ground.

Some people when they travel will research every little detail about the country and plan out a rigid itenarary.  Others just like to arrive and wing it.  Planning a trip is completely up to the individual and there is no right or wrong answer about how much someone should learn and plan for an upcoming trip; however, there are some aspects that are helpful to know in advance.

This post only covers the points about visiting a country. If you intend to move to another country, check out the Apostille Service.

Here are five aspects one should learn in each country before arrival:

1.  Know some key words in the language where you are visiting

Learn “hello,” “goodbye,” “no,” “yes,” and most importantly “THANK YOU” and “PLEASE.”  Another good one to learn is “no problem.”  In Thai it is mai pen rai and it is a phrase that I found very handy.

The more you know the better, but it is not necessary to be able to conjoin verbs in that language in order to enjoy the people and the country.  Even if people in the country you are visiting are well versed in English they will appreciate any attempt to speak with them in their language.  Once you are in the country continue to make an effort to learn and seek out locals for help.

2.  Know the cab fares

In Thailand they have metered taxis that are incredibly cheap.  Many of the taxi drivers do not want to turn their meter on when they get a foreigner.  They will ask where you want to go and then say 200 baht when it would be less than 100 baht if they put on their meter.  Just insist they turn on their meters and if they do not comply then get out.  There are like 55,000 taxis in Bangkok, so it is not too tricky to find one that will turn it on.


Me and my cab driver in Bangkok

Each country and city has its own unique system of cab fares and also some unique scams in order to separate the traveler from more of their cash.  It is easy to find this out by googling the country or city with cab fare.  Lonely Planet guides also usually have this information.

3.  Learn about the transport system in the country

It is helpful to know about how to best get around in the country before arrival.  I pulled into Tokyo and tried to arrange for a night bus to Kyoto.  It took me over two frustrating hours to find the bus. Sometimes when traveling there is no internet access and you have to rely on help from others.  If I had studied this before hand on the internet I am sure it would have been smoother.

4.  Learn a little history of the country

It is not necessary to prepare PHD doctorate paper on the historical relevancy of the country, but learning the basics before you go is a must.  This is so easy to do, so there is no excuse not to learn this.  Wikipedia and many other websites offer condensed histories that one can read in 10-15 minutes.


MacArthur statue on Corregidor Island with the Bataan Peninsula in the backdrop

Learning the history of a place really augments the travel experience in my opinion.  Not only do you have some sort of context for what you see, but it can also lead you to places to see that you might not have known about.  For instance, the island of Corregidor in Manila Bay was crucial battle site in World War II and a great place to visit, but if you did not know the historical importance of the island it would be easy for travelers to pass it by.

5.  Learn the countries’ National Parks and visit them

Many people from Europe and other countries come to America just to explore our National Parks.  A National Park is a country saying this is our most beautiful place, yet these amazing places are often overlooked by travelers when they visit other countries.


Bach Ma National Park in Vietnam

Many backpackers travel from big city to big city and miss out on the most incredible scenery a country has to offer.  My favorite place in Thailand was Khao Yai National Park and in Vietnam it was Bach Ma National Park, but many who travel to these countries have never heard of these two places.   Take at least two days for the best national park inside the country and go kayaking, hiking, bird watching, zip lining, or whatever adventure travel recreation that park is known for.

Did I miss anything?  Is there a tip that you have that is not in the top five?  Please let me know in the comment section if you have any suggestions along the same lines.

Stay tuned,


The goal of Traveling Ted is to inspire people to outdoor adventure travel and then provide tips on where and how to go. If you liked this post then enter your email in the box to get email notifications for each new entry. Daily travel photos are excluded from your email in order to not flood you with posts. There is no spam and email information will not be shared. Other e-follow options include Facebook (click on the like box to the right) or twitter (click on the pretty bird on the rainbow above).