Firstly, learn bits of the local language. You do not need to be fluent, but even saying little words like “hello”, “thank you” in the local lingo will make your first time in a country smoother. Not only will you get increased goodwill from the locals for trying, your attempt will almost always be emphatically laughed at due to your mispronunciation and accent meaning you will have the currency that’s richer than them all – laughter.
You could also take time to check out local events. Before heading on the train, plane or bus to the next destination, why don’t you have a quick search on the internet for local events/pop-ups in the city and attend. This is where all the locals will be so you can experience the local culture more and learn something new. It’s these one-off off-the-radar events that will live long in the memory. Chat to the locals and make friends along the way. Be polite and attempt a few simple phrases in their language no matter how difficult. It is amazing how far a hello, thank you and please in any language can get you.
Almost every time they will speak back to you in English but at least it shows you made an effort and also respect their culture, style and language. They might laugh but they will appreciate the fact that you tried. Do not forget to pack light. How many pairs of shoes do you really need ? Are you actually going to wear those heels in the cobblestones? At the end of the day everything is replaceable, except your passport – guard that with your life. Buy proper travel insurance they come in handy. You never know when you will need it and there is nothing worse than being in a hospital and realizing that you are not covered. Accidents can and do happen so read the fine print and prepare.