Since the cold weather is upon us in most areas of the country, many of you may be considering (or dreaming about) vacationing in places with warmer weather. Many of the most convenient and inexpensive resort destinations are in Spanish-speaking countries, like Mexico, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica. There are important things to know about traveling to these countries before you go.
Where to Stay
There are many considerations when deciding on the resort where you will stay. Besides the cost, the first thing you want to know if it’s located in a safe area. Then, how far is it from the airport you will be flying into and how will you get to the resort, once you land? Next, how close is it to the things you want to do on your vacation?
The water at the resort is another important concern in many of these countries. Does the hotel have water for drinking or just showering? Is the body of water in front of the resort, designated for swimming or will you only be able to use the pool.
It can be very frustrating if you don’t know the language and can’t communicate your needs, when in another country. Your best option is to learn some basic Spanish words and phrases before you go. Pick up a conversational or travel Spanish program, book or audio a few weeks before your trip. Practice as much as you can, or even better, take a class or get a few hours of private tutoring.
If you don’t have that much time, you can use the numerous translation apps available on smart phones. Some of them allow you to speak the words into your phone and they will immediately be spoken in Spanish, to the other person.
You can also use body language or gestures for many circumstances. You can point at things or gesture as to what you want. Additionally, a paper and pen can be invaluable for writing a number, a price, your name or drawing a picture of what you want. So keep them with you at all times.
Most resort areas in other countries will take credit and debit cards and even American dollars. But, you may need to have some of that county’s form of money to get by.
Before you go, make sure to find out the country’s exchange rate. Also, ask your bank what the fees are for using your ATM, debit and credit card outside of the U.S. Use the bank or credit card that offers the lowest rates.
Then, when you get to your destination, use an ATM or a bank in a main city. Try to avoid the kiosks in the airport or train station as they charge a higher rate than banks. Don’t take out more cash than you need, because then you may have to pay another fee to exchange it to American dollars, on your return.
You always want to be careful with your valuables when travelling, but especially when you’re in another country. Don’t bring your expensive jewelry or tons of cash. You won’t need it. Use your credit or debit cards instead of cash, whenever possible.
You also have to keep your passport safely stored away while travelling; either on your person or in a hotel safe. In many countries, it is suggested that you keep your passport with you at all times, in case you are stopped and questioned by authorities. Unfortunately, passports are also a valuable commodity for criminals, because they can be altered and used to gain illegal entrance into America.
Remember to keep these things in mind before and during your vacation and you should have a fabulous and enjoyable experience in these sunny destinations.