I recently traveled outside of the United States for the first time. I went to Scotland, and like every place in Europe, it has a rich history filled with monuments that have survived for millennia and a landscape that is eerily beautiful. There are many things I will tell you about my experience as a new traveler, so hopefully you won’t make the same mistakes, or make the mistakes I had tried to avoid.
The first thing I can tell you, is to plan ahead for the time difference. I arrived with my companions in Edinburgh at 7:00 A.M. local time—the equivalent of 2:00 A.M in New York—after leaving New York’s JFK Airport at 7:00 P.M. It’s a long trip, so plan to sleep on the flight. My tactic for any travelling is to stay awake so long that I just fall sleep after take off (the same applies for road trips—when I’m not driving!).
After arriving in Edinburgh, I reset my watch to local time (yes, I wore a watch. Why? Because mobile phones take a long time to reset their local time when you can’t have your cellular data on and you don’t have free internet access. And unless your mobile phone plan covers international usage, or you purchase international coverage, I recommend you turn off your cellular data—unless you like receiving astronomical bills from your phone company!).
Once In Stirling, where I was staying, my companions recommended we stay awake the rest of the day in order to adjust to the time difference. While it was against my nature, it was a game changer for the trip. Not only did I get to experience a whole day in the area surrounding Stirling while some of our other companions slept in most of the day, but I slept soundly that night and was completely adjusted to the local time (but a word of advice: find out what time sunset and sunrise are for your destinations. In Stirling, I learned the hard way that sun set is approximately 10:00 P.M. local time, and sun rise is approximately 4:00 A.M. local time in the summer!)
If you travel light, like me, then you probably bring the bare essentials. What is essential, though? It was recommended that I bring an alarm clock that did not have to be plugged in. As I often do, I ignored this advice in favor of traveling with a lighter bag. Everything worked out fine, because I used my mobile phone alarm. There is one problem. You need to keep your phone plugged in (with a U.K. adapter—just buy a universal adapter that has all the plugs, because they are inexpensive and cover the U.K. and mainland Europe) and it takes longer to charge overseas. Now couple the long charge time, with the long time it takes to reset the time on your phone to local time, and that causes some panic. But everything will be O.K. The secret is to turn your phone off when you land, and turn it back on, so it can have plenty of time to adjust to your current time zone (something I didn’t know until my companions told me later that night, as I started to panic). I hope this has given you some things to think about for your next trip! Happy traveling!