Living in the UK often means a "Stay calm and Move on", phlegmatic approach to life and a conservative approach to life too. However, travelling to certain countries like the US, or even the islands like the Bahamas and Jamaica may present you with a huge culture shock.
Besides the culture shock and the "newness" you may encounter, there are a few other things you might want to be prepared for. These things might impact your vacation and even your health. They could also limit your expenses to a reasonable minimum.
Below are a few things to keep in mind and make sure to do;
1. Read up a bit on the country you are visiting
The idea is to at least reduce the culture shock and to prepare to enjoy them at the same time. Many people prefer the adventurous approach to life and vacations and will rather "see it when they see it", but being prepared is not necessarily averse to adventure.
For instance, you may be shocked by the almost entitled way that service persons expect tips in the USA. From the bar man to the bellboys, tipping is big in America.
Reading can also help you pack properly as regards style. Look up a magazine or the internet and see the fashion trends so that you can shop to prevent a severe "standing out", unless you want to of course.
2. Check out the weather for the country you are visiting
The world is a very crazy place and very different. Knowing the weather will help you pack properly as regards convenience.
English people do not get very much sun at home. This is probably why they choose to vacation in places with a lot of sun or anywhere there is a beach.
However, the degree of sunshine you may experience differs from one place to another and you may want to pack some head gear or creams.
You might also need to re plan your visit if you hate the rains and you are about to travel to a place in a season of incessant rainfall. Don't predict the weather, check it!
3. Get together your health contingencies
Falling sick or getting injured is bad enough, but getting sick or injured in a strange place is a different level of bad.
To many people a vacation will include a lot of adventure; rock climbing, skiing, sky diving and experimenting with new foods. This is necessary for a full experience so by all means knock yourself out. However, it is necessary to be prepared for contingencies.
Pack a first aid kit to go. I don't mean that you should try to practice medicine abroad. But at least get the necessary stuff for minor injuries and the necessary pills; band aids, Aspirin, Tylenol etc.
It is also highly advised for travelers vacationing outside the UK to get their EHIC cards if they are traveling within Europe and if they already do have one, they should travel with it. This way you can get free treatment abroad or at least discounted treatment. If you are heading outside of Europe then you might want to an additional private insurance too.
4. Get yourself a compass or a smart phone with a compass app
If you consider making wrong turns everywhere you go or asking a whole lot of questions, then you may skip this point.
I find that most tourists stand out painfully from the crowd either because they don't mind standing out or because they just weren't prepared.
Having a compass or better yet a phone that has a compass app will help you navigate the new terrain like a boss. It will also least reduce the number of questions that you ask.
5. Observe the restrictions on baggage
Travelling out of the country involves a lot of uncertainty and traveler's especially first time travelers tend to pack with such uncertainty in mind. "let me take this along just in case...and this...aaaaand this too".
There is no need appearing in the airport as though you are relocating from the UK. It is wise to find out ahead of time the restrictions on baggage. If the airline says 30kg, they mean it and they have said it for your safety.
Weigh your bags before you arrive at the airport and save bag space for your holiday purchases too. Trust me you never really need 50% of what you pack.
It is also wise to check out the items usually banned or regulated in UK airports to avoid the embarrassment and delay many face in airports. Wouldn't want to start your vacation on an unhappy note, would you?
6. Don't forget the adapters
When you are finally ready to go, don't be like me and forget the adapters. There are few things more annoying than arriving in your hotel room and finding out that you came with your phone, tablet, laptop and camera all set...then you forgot all the chargers and adapters.
You will have to spend more money if you will enjoy the vacation as you want to and that is not what you wanted is it?
7. Get your house in order
Arrange pet sitter or kennel stay, Pay the bills, put a hold on your mail delivery, newspaper delivery or package deliveries or you could ask someone to collect for you. Get your medication re fill, inform family, neighbors and friends, load up on reading material and please do the dishes and throw away perishables.
Few things can burst your vacation high than returning to a stench.
What else can I say? Happy vacation!