When traveling internationally several things might cause you to worry. Often there are things you did not expect to need to deal with, but given massive cultural differences, you find yourself struggling. The following tips will help you navigate a few of the lesser-known worries that can jump out at you while you’re traveling internationally.

Pack Light and Bring an Extra Bag

No matter where you’re going or how long you’ll be staying, you will somehow be coming home with more things than you left with. Make sure your suitcase or luggage has space for things you pick up as you travel. A big part of managing this is making sure that you know how to pack optimally. Even better, have an extra compact folding bag you can keep in your luggage which will allow you to get souvenirs for every person you want to and a few treasures for yourself all the way home. Yes, you’ll likely have to pay for an extra bag on the travel home, but this might be preferable to having to throw things out when you’re packing to head back to your own country.

Learn How to Use a VPN Before You Go

Depending on which country you are visiting there might be strict online regulations restricting your access to certain sites (or propaganda that’s impossible to avoid while online). If you understand how to apply a VPN to your laptop, phone, or tablet, you will be able to use the internet as if you are in whichever country you choose. A VPN for streaming and other internet usages can save you a lot of trouble. This is especially true when it comes to social media, as not all social media platforms are allowed in every country, perhaps you plan on using one of these platforms to back up your photos and let your mother know that you’re safe.

Schedule Light

While traveling, especially if you’re going to be gone for a long time, you should always have a few buffer days in your schedule. These days are going to be a lifesaver if you find yourself sick, hungover, jet-lagged, or massively culture-shocked. They can also be used to stick around a little longer in that place you didn’t realize you’d love so much or to go on that side quest with some lovely new friends you met. Having a schedule that is too tightly packed is one of the most common stress-inducing mistakes people make when traveling.

Learn What You Can Beforehand

A few polite words in a foreign language can go a long way while you’re traveling, and now, with the internet, this is extremely easy to learn ahead of time. You can also give yourself a mini-crash course in cultural norms and expectations (if you identify as a woman, this includes learning about what clothing is appropriate in which countries — sometimes respecting other people’s cultures includes covering up a little).

More than this, a little understanding of the historical background can save you from making a terrible social faux pas. For example, in some countries, you do not talk about Communism, either because dissenting opinions are not allowed to be expressed or because the population suffered horrifically in the past under a certain regime, and bringing it up casually in conversation can be rude and hurtful. You’ll be happy you did this research later.

Countless things can go wrong while you’re traveling, but with the above tips, you are well on your way to avoiding some of the major ones. As with any form of travel, always take necessary safety precautions and never stick around somewhere you feel uncomfortable just because it was part of your original plan. When it comes to travel, a big part of how much you enjoy it is how flexible you are while it’s happening. Of course, do not get flexible with the dates and times you promised to message or video chat or call people back home. This can cause a whole other type of worry.