Whether youâ€™re taking the kids on their first European vacation or making your umpteenth international business trip, there are plenty of details to consider. Hereâ€™s a list of 22 international travel tips that will help your trip run smoothly.
International Travel Tips – Before You Go
- Take a photo of your passport with your mobile device so you can prove your citizenship if your passport is lost or stolen. Email the photo to yourself so you can access it from anywhere if your mobile disappears also.
- Make sure your passport is valid for six months beyond your intended stay. Most countries will deny entry if you have less than six months left so they are assured you can go home if your intended stay is extended.
- Find out if the country you are visiting requires a visa for entry and allow plenty of time to get it. Some countries issue electronic visas in advance or at the airport, while others require a lengthy application process.\
- Enroll in the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (S.T.E.P). This notifies you of any government alerts for your destination and provides a method to reach you if there is an emergency back home.
- Purchase travel medical insurance. Most U.S. insurance does not cover travelers while they are abroad. Make sure you also have the right level of coverage for trip delay, emergency expenses, or medical evacuation.
- Get any necessary vaccinations and a letter from your doctor verifying any prescriptions or medications you carry with you.
- Check the currency exchange rate and know how to do the math so you can calculate a quick conversion while youâ€™re shopping.
- Make sure your credit card has the chip-and-PIN technology. Most overseas businesses no longer accept magnetic strip cards.
- Advise your credit card company where and when you will be traveling, including connection points, so that they donâ€™t freeze your card for potential fraud when you use it far from home.
- Know your bank fees for ATMs and if your provider reimburses foreign exchange fees. They can mount up if you make multiple small withdrawals.
- Know your phone carrierâ€™s roaming fees. If you expect to make calls or need data beyond accessible Wi-Fi, consider a temporary international calling plan.
- Download any apps that you expect to use, such as maps, a language translator, itinerary management or â€śsit or squatâ€ť (a public restroom finder).
- Check the electric voltage and plug configuration of your destination country. An adapter will get your electronics plugged in but if the voltage is different than your device, youâ€™ll need a converter also.
- Consider applying for the Global Entry Program to save hours at the airport with a fast track re-entry into the U.S. and nine other countries. The cost is $100 for a five-year membership and requires an official interview in advance.
- Read a book or watch movies about the country to learn about its history and culture before you arrive. A guidebook, novel or documentary about local life will set the scene for your upcoming journey.
Day of Travel
- If you donâ€™t have TSA Precheck to breeze through security with shoes and belt on, wear easy-to-remove shoes to speed the process.
- Wear loose, breathable clothing to be comfortable during travel and socks to keep your feet warm. Kick your shoes off during flight.
- Pack a â€śgo-anywhereâ€ť outfit in your carry-on just in case your checked bag doesnâ€™t arrive with you or turbulence drops a drink in your lap.
- Carry-on must-haves include chargers, an e-reader, a scarf or wrap, a good set of headphones (preferably noise canceling). Neck supports help many people sleep on planes. An adjustable foot swing that attaches to the seatback tray and relieves the knee pain caused by cramped seating is a godsend on a long flight in coach.
- If you did not purchase an international calling plan for your mobile phone, turn off your data and use local Wi-Fi when you have it. Alternatively, buying a new sim card for your phone on arrival is usually very inexpensive and effectively gives you a local phone during your travels.
While Youâ€™re There
- Always pick up the hotelâ€™s business card from the front desk. If the local language doesnâ€™t use the Roman alphabet and you donâ€™t speak the language, you can show it to a taxi driver to get back there.
- Use credit cards for purchases when you can. Itâ€™s usually more cost-effective than exchanging currency. If asked whether to charge in local currency or U.S. Dollars, choose the local currency.
- You’ll need some cash for incidentals, taxis, and small shops. Banks and ATMs offer the best exchange rates. If you use a currency exchange facility with a flat fee, exchange a larger amount to lower the feeâ€™s percentage, rather than multiple small exchanges.
- Learn basic phrases in the local language and use them. Good morning, thank you, and excuse me are niceties that will go a long way in fostering your engagement with the people who live there.
- Always remember that you are a guest in another country. Donâ€™t expect things to be done exactly like they are at home and donâ€™t criticize the differences.
These international travel tips apply to any destination and travel for any reason. When youâ€™re ready for your next journey abroad, contact the experts at Covington for help planning.