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Key Travel Tips for Students

• Language. If you are traveling in a country where the official language is not English, start studying before you leave and make every effort to practice your skills at your destination. If you know even a few words of the local language, you can become a traveler rather than a tourist. You can talk to people in towns and villages and learn about life from their perspective. At least trying to speak their language will gain you their respect.

• Planning. If you are on a budget, it is particularly important to be prepared. Know where you want to go, and buy plane, train, and bus tickets in advance. The more you plan, the cheaper your trip will be. However, scheduling every hour of your time invites disaster. So be flexible. A fixed itinerary does not leave room for spontaneous explorations.

• Packing. Take next to nothing. Unless you are going to dinner with heads of state, the less you have the happier you will be. The most important items to take are comfortable underwear and shoes. Buying clothing and other essentials in-country is an important part of the experience. Of course, if there are certain things you cannot live without—like the Dirty Dancing soundtrack— take them with you.

• Food. Go to local cafes or restaurants and pick out the strangest thing on the menu. Try cow’s stomach, cactus soup, or the guanabana fruit. You may not like the taste at first, but by trying new foods you gain a better understanding and appreciation of the culture and discover what a narrow world your taste buds inhabit. In many countries you can purchase local cheese, bread, and wine for very little money. Buying a few staple foods and eating as you travel is a good way to save money, but nothing can compare to eating a good meal in a beautiful foreign land—especially when it’s done with friends from the country

• Cultural Immersion. A passion about immersing yourself in a different culture and seeing the world from a new point of view will take you farther than a huge budget or the best guidebook.

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