One icy January evening before we had even begun sipping our booze, three of my friends and I impulsively bought discount tickets to Reykjavik, Iceland on Groupon because YOLO. Since then, we’ve been meticulously pinning waterfalls, glaciers and suggested itineraries, reassuring our families they won’t have to send Liam Neeson to rescue us, and watching travel bloggers give GoPro tours in anticipation of our Icelandic adventure.
Luckily due to modern technology, the sheer amount of information available to obsessive travelers nowadays is endless. Therefore, I present a complete list of my search history; questions I have Googled in preparation for my first trip abroad. Things everyone will likely want to take into consideration before traveling to a foreign country.
1. Will our cell phones work?
Check with your provider to find out your international plan. This can typically be found by going to the cell provider’s website and entering your cell number and the country you plan on traveling to. If you’re traveling to a country with a decent amount of Wi-Fi, you can at least plan on being able to contact family members and friends in these locations. However, you may need to get a cheaper “track” phone in case of emergencies. If you don’t check beforehand, be prepared to pay a steep price in international fees when you return, as some providers still make a killing off phone bills the price of airplane tickets.
2. Which side of the road will we drive on?
Might be a good idea to figure this one out before you get behind the wheel. In Iceland, we will be traveling the Ring Road on the right hand side of the road, reminding us of cruising county roads back in the good old dirty south.
3. What happens if we get pulled over in a foreign country?
Crossing our fingers this doesn’t happen, especially to those of us who’s driving has been dubbed “controlled reckless” by our friends. Apparently there’s such a thing as international collections though, and it’s where unpaid foreign tickets get reported to. Sigh. Hell is real.
4. Are we even supposed to be driving?
If you’re planning on renting a car, be sure you check out what laws the country you will be traveling to has about international licenses and know the age restrictions for rentals.
5. Should we change our Tinder locations?
Asking for a friend!
6. Are there any hand or facial gestures I should avoid that could cause my Icelandic Tinder boyfriends to think I’m rude?
Nobody likes to fight on vacation!
7. Are there any differences in the culture that might shock us?
For example, in Iceland, we will likely be in the minority if we refuse to get naked in front of strangers at the infamous Blue Lagoon. Therefore, I’ve been working out twice a day since discovering my middle school nightmares are back and they’re European. Be sure you research how the country you are traveling to feels about public nudity to avoid finding yourself naked and afraid on foreign turf.
8. Which words should we learn in the native language? How often is English used?
In our case, English is supposedly second nature to most Icelandic people. Just in case, I’m learning the Icelandic words for “hello,” “restroom,” “beer,” and “lit.”
9. Will we be able to use our debit and credit cards?
Before you go running around in a foreign land with a huge wad of cash in your fanny pack, look up if your debit or credit card is accepted in the country you are traveling to. In our case, Iceland may as well be paperless, and I won’t be switching many of my dollars to kronas after all.
10. Should we tip hospitality employees?
This may seem like a given, but think again. Many countries actually pay food service and hospitality employees more than $3.23 an hour and actually do not expect you to tip them. (A truly novel concept.) Iceland is one of these countries. However, it appears that the money we would usually spend tipping American bartenders will go toward the price of my drinks as they run about $15-$30 USD.
11. What if we don’t want to come back?
America is looking less and less appealing these days, especially now that we’ll be traveling to the most peaceful country on planet earth….I suppose we can cross this bridge when we come to it. If I don’t return next month, someone make sure SET forward my check to the Northern Hemisphere.
“If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.” – Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey