Travel Like a Pro: What to Do When You Get There

Start your adventure right with these tips on getting to the trailhead and keeping in contact once you get there.
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Start your adventure right with these tips on getting to the trailhead and keeping in contact once you get there.

Getting to the trailhead

Car

Most countries require both a valid U.S. driver's license and an international driving permit ($15) to rent a car. Get one at an AAA office or apply online at aaa.com.

Taxi

Only use licensed taxis, and ask for a price quote in advance.

Bus

Keep your pack with you if at all possible; if not, stowing it under the bus, not on top, is safer. Up your chances of getting a seat by arriving early or boarding at a station, not a neighborhood stop.

Train

Book a sleeper car on an overnight train to save transit time. Ask how long the train will stop at your destination–if it's short, retrieve your luggage before the stop is announced and wait near the door so you don't miss it.

Calling Home

Cheapest

Sign up for an online phone service (like Skype or Yahoo! Voice), then call another computer from an internet café for free.

Easiest

Buy a calling card at your destination and dial from any land line phone.

Most flexible

Rent or buy an international prepaid cell phone at cellularabroad.com (about $20 and up, plus upwards of $0.30 per minute for talk time).

Money Matters

Credit cards get the best exchange rate; if you're changing cash, local banks beat airports and currency exchanges. Get local currency at an ATM (but be aware of your bank's foreign transaction fees) and make sure you have small bills for shopping. Arrive with cash on hand by exchanging money at an AAA office pre-departure: You can get up to $100 in pounds, euros, pesos, and Canadian dollars.