Traveling can be one of life’s greatest pleasures! It’s always exciting to visit another country. Whether you’re visiting for business, or maybe a just vacation, traveling overseas is an entirely different experience. Not only do international tours tend to be longer than domestic ones, there’s a lot more things travelers need to keep in mind, such as passport and visa requirements or avoiding nickel-and-dime fees for credit card transactions and ATM withdrawals. Check out our top ten international travel tips!
Catch up with our Top Ten Common Sense Travel Tips.
Tip 1: Double-Check Your Passports before You Book a Trip
Check the expiration date of your passport as soon as you begin to think about the journey. Make sure that you’ve at least six months after your return date before your passport expires. Some countries, like Singapore and Thailand, not only check your passport’s validity during the trip but also three to six months of validity after you leave their country. Therefore, it’s important to apply for or renew your passport before you book your trip. Also, make sure that your family members have a photocopy of your passport, in case something goes wrong. If your passports get lost or stolen, it’ll be easier to have it replaced, if you’ve got a copy of your information.
Tip 2: Get Necessary Visas Early
Make inquiries for permits. Don’t assume you don’t need a visa even if you’re visiting for a day. Check visa-related information with the appropriate embassy. If you’ve booked your tour through a travel agent, then they should take care of the paperwork for you. In some countries, you can obtain visas on arrival, but for countries such as China, Russia, and Brazil, you’ll need a visa for admission to the country. Some countries have special requirements to obtain a visa, such as a letter from a sponsor. Make sure that you’ve sorted this out as soon as possible before your trip.
Tip 3: Call Your Credit Card Company before Departure
Call your credit card company and let them know that you’ll be traveling abroad. Carry several cards with you, in case one does not work. Many credit card companies offer their members travel cancellation insurance, medical insurance, or other perks. Check what your credit card offers as incentives and be sure to take full advantage of them! Several countries use credit cards less often than you may be accustomed. In the states, paying for a cab with a credit card can be no problem, but in other countries, it could be much more challenging. Be sure to withdraw some of the local currency from an ATM to cover taxi rides and other incidentals.
Tip 4: Switch off Your Data Roaming before Boarding Your International Flight
As soon as you land and turn on your phone, data roaming charges kick in, and they can be exorbitant! Always call your cell phone provider before you leave to find out if you’ll have coverage and arrange for an international data plan if you need it. These packages are called “add-ons.” Most providers let you buy a data package for a monthly rate. Otherwise, keep your data roaming off and use the hotel’s Wi-Fi to keep in touch with family and friends back home. There are some great apps which you can use to communicate if you’ve got Wi-Fi or internet access. WhatsApp allows you to send messages, pictures, audio notes and video messages. Viber is another app which lets you make free calls, text, or send pictures.
Tip 5: See Your Personal Health Provider Before and After Your Vacation
Check to find health information and vaccination requirements for your destination. For maximum protection, you should get any required shots six weeks before your departure. If you’re visiting a country where disease is rampant, make sure to consult a travel medicine professional. Make photocopies of your prescriptions and pack them separately from other medication. Always pack your prescription medication and keep them in your carry-on bag and note the generic drug name. If you need to use a syringe, make sure that you’ve got a letter from your health provider. Always mention the syringes before you go through a security check. Pack more than enough medicine to last your trip, as it might be difficult to get your prescriptions filled abroad.
Tip 6: Consider Buying Travel Insurance
Call your health insurance company to understand how you’re covered abroad. Don’t short yourself here. Also, check if your credit card company provides any travel medical insurance. If not, then consider buying medical evacuation and emergency health insurance. Moreover, if your travel requires a large down payment or is booked many months in advance, cancellation insurance, and trip interruption can provide valuable protection from the unexpected. Peace of mind is something that’s worth paying for when traveling overseas!
Tip 7: Know Where to Exchange Your Currency
Once you land at your destination, stop by the airport currency exchange booth or near your hotel for the best rates of exchange. If you’re asked if you’d like to pay for items you’re purchasing in dollars or local currency, choose the local currency option, as it’s usually the better rate. Why pay more if you don’t need to? Check with your credit card company in advance to be sure it doesn’t charge for foreign transactions. If it does, use a card that does not or carry cash, as costs can add up quickly. When using your bank cards to withdraw money from ATMs, remember your PIN, as many ATM keypads do not display the numbers and letters we use, or they may be placed differently on the keypad.
Tip 8: Pack Smartly For International Trips
Whether you’re traveling for two weeks or two months, pack the same! To keep your clothes tightly packed and well organized; zip them up in airless baggies, packing cubes, or a clothes compressor. For smaller items such as socks, earplugs, or gadgets, use packing cubes or mesh bags. Avoid carrying expensive jewelry with you as thieves are experts at targeting tourists. If you do bring valuables, always travel with them in your carry-on, and keep them locked up in the hotel safe. Mark your bags by putting a large sticker mentioning your name, phone number, and address or tying a colorful ribbon around the handle. You’ll be able to identify your suitcases from miles away and won’t see other passengers pulling your bags off the carousel. Remember: Go casual, simple, and travel light!
Tip 9: Create a Detailed Itinerary
It’s probably the most time-consuming tip, but it can save you in a jam. Do your research before a trip. You’re not only making your traveling life easier but a lot more rewarding. Create a day-by-day itinerary of your trip, including flight details, confirmation numbers, hotel stays, addresses, and phone numbers. Also research the places you want to see, the best restaurants, historical monuments and more. Take out several copies of your itinerary and put one in each piece of luggage and one in your backpack for quick access. Also remember to take snapshots of your itinerary on your phone, in case you misplace the hard copies.
Tip 10: Check-In Early For International Flights
When you’ve got a flight to catch, it’s important to arrive at the airport with ample time to complete all ticketing, luggage checking and security clearance processes to get to the gate and be ready to board. If you’re unable to complete the check-in process by these deadlines, you won’t make it to your flight and additional fees may apply. If you don’t want this to happen, keep these points in mind when planning your airport arrival. For an international flight, make sure you arrive at the airport three hours in advance. Since everyone has baggage for an international flight, the check-in lines are often excruciatingly long. Make sure you’ve brought all documents and have them ready before you arrive at the security gates. The documentation required can vary depending on your destination, so it’s good to check ahead to make sure you’re good to go!
Bonus Tip: Allow Plenty of Time for Jet Lag
As your international trip includes a change of time zones, prepare yourself ahead of time. The best thing to do is to get a good night’s sleep for the two nights before you leave. Also, try to sleep well on your overnight flight using earplugs, taking a sleeping pill or using a sleep mask. Depending on where you’re visiting, you should expect to spend a long time traveling. You’re going to have sleep disturbances. You’re going to be tired. It happens! But try to make the most of this time. If at all possible try to reach your destination early before your big meeting or presentation to give yourself time to adjust. Keep hydrated, sleep on your new time zone, and eat the first meal possible on your new schedule.
Your International Travel Tips
Do you have any other international travel tips that’ll get you off to a great start? What tip did you find to be the most helpful? Let us know with a comment!