Traveling abroad can be a wonderful experience full of fun, history, and culture, which is why knowing some handy tips and how they can make international travel easier is covered in this article.
It’s essential to prepare before you take your trip so that you’ll have the best time possible, and avoid mishaps, but who says preparing for international travelling can’t be a breeze.
Now some of us might feel a little daunted by the thought of international travel, especially amidst the chaos by the pandemic, but that’s fine, Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to a smooth trip.
Step one: Get a passport
You need a valid passport, your birth certificate, and one other form of identification that proves your citizenship in your country of origin.
If you already have a passport, make sure it has at least 6 months left before it reaches its expiration date. Some countries might not issue a visa to you if your passport expires in less than 6 months.
Side note: If you don’t already have a passport, you’ll need to allow about 10-12 weeks for processing, so be sure to start this process ahead of time.
It typically wouldn’t take this long but the passport processing personnel are just slowly working their way through the huge pile of backlogs that has built up, you also have the option of getting an expedited service for your passport to be processed in 4-6 weeks for an additional $60.
Currently, Agencies in the US are limiting in person appointments to people who have emergency cases and plan on travelling in about 72 hours.
But if you need to apply for your passport in person, you can check in with your nearest acceptance facility, you can find more in depth details on the state of travel service accessibility and constraints pertaining to the US here.
It’s also a good idea to make a copy of your passport in the event that it gets stolen.
Pro tip: You can consider making color copies of your passport, plane or train tickets, hotel reservations, etc.
It’s also a good idea to provide a friend or family member with copies in case your luggage gets lost or stolen.
Step two: Check your destination’s visa requirements
If your country of destination and country of origin both participate in the Visa Waiver Program, you won’t be required to pre-arrange a visa.
A Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries
to travel to their complimentary destinations for a certain timeframe (depending on the agreements of the program), without needing to get a passport.
Other non-participating countries may require you to apply for a tourist visa (and get that visa approved) before you travel.
This can be a costly and time-consuming step, so be sure to get it out of the way ahead of time,for instance U.S citizens can visit the website for the U.S department of State to find out the visa requirements for traveling to foreign countries.
Side note: Some countries require that tourists pay entrance and exit fees, so find out if this is applicable to your trip and be prepared to pay the fees.
Pro tip: Using a site called Visalist travelers are able to review up to date visa requirements for the country they’re headed to, such a handy tool.
With over 238 countries, the website has a map using color codes of all the places you can travel and the things you need to enter the country.
Step three: Receive the recommended immunizations.
Its better to begin immunization injections many months in advance. Most of the time, Imunizations are usually optional but recommended for tourist travel in certain parts of the world, For some countries you need no immunizations at all.
Side note: Plan to get the travel vaccines you need at least a month before your trip. Most vaccines need to be given ahead of time to give you full protection against a disease.
Pro tip: Check out the Center for disease control website to learn which immunizations are recommended or required based on your destination.
Step four: Purchase health and travel insurance.
If your health insurance policy doesn’t cover you while abroad, it’s wise to purchase health insurance that will be accepted in your country of destination, just in case something should happen.
Similarly, if your trip ends up getting cancelled or postponed, purchasing travel insurance ahead of time can save you money, time, and a lot of hassle.
With the current state of the pandemic, if your government doesn’t have your destination on its travel corridor list and thus advises against travelling to your destination, be sure to keep in mind that some travel insurances may become invalid if you still decide to go to your destination.
According to WingedBoots, A travel corridor, also known as an air bridge, allows passengers to travel on certain routes to and from countries and territories with low COVID-19 infection rates without the need to self-isolate.
Take note of this as you are searching for travel insurances and opt for ones that provide coverage even in “no-go” destinations.
Side note: A lot of travel insurance coverages requires you to purchase your plan within a fixed number of days (usually 10-14) of making that initial trip deposit if the travel insurance coverage is to be in effect.
Although unlikely, some travel insurance companies may offer refunds on things like trip cancellation and other situations that aren’t Covid related or medically urgent, it completely depends on the service provider so check in with them.
Pro tip: Buying travel insurance as soon as possible is essential in avoiding some common insurance ‘loopholes’.
Step five: Decide where you will stay.
You can choose between staying with friends or relatives, or booking a hotel or hostel while on your trip.
You could make these decisions at the last-minute but you’ll feel more prepared if you have sorted out these details ahead of time.
Research places to stay online and read reviews from other guests to find the best spot for your money.
Side note: Don’t forget to bring any medications you may need.
Ensure that you receive a copy of the prescriptions from your pharmacy and doctor.
Depending on what country you are from it may not be possible so obtain as much paperwork as you can relating to the medications, preferrably official ones to satisfy customs and border controls.
Pro tip: Do some research the weather, terrain, and airline weight regulations before you travel.
People tend to overpack for international travel and that’s a mistake many people make, because travelling with lighter luggage is better.
Pick items you really like, and plan on wearing them several times in different combinations.
Step six: Determine the best way to get around.
Depending on the location, you may be able to walk, ride a bike, drive a car, or take a boat, around your destination.
It’s a good idea to look into this beforehand, so you know, for instance, if you’ll need a hotel close to the train station, or how to get a ticket for the subway.
If its something you’re open to, a travel agent can also help with providing details regarding your itinerary.
Side note: Many countries do not recognize a driver’s license from another country.
So if you plan to drive while on your trip you’ll need to obtain an International Driving Permit.
Pro tip: Making friends who you can visit later and who know the real deal about their localities will give you a more in-depth experience.
Step seven: Study the native language.
Its advisable to learn a few terms and phrases beforehand, such as “hello”, “please” ,“thank you”,“my name is…”and “where is the bathroom?”. The more you can understand and speak the language, the better.
Pro tip: If you have a smartphone with you,consider downloading Google translate offline in your chosen language.
While it might take up some memory on your phone,You won’t need an internet connection to use it and that can be a real lifesaver.
Before you travel, you may also practice learning a few key phrases with your Google assistant if your phone has the software.
Step eight: Research the local atmosphere.
Source for online news about the country you are traveling to, then start reading about current events a month or so in advance. Familiarize yourself with sensitive issues.
Side note: Inquire about the local dress and customs,Some countries may be more modest, while others have less restrictions.
Pro tip: Find out local etiquette to avoid embarrassment.
It’s important to learn dress code and etiquette before you go to a foreign country.
Some countries actually find it offensive to touch someone’s spouse or children, so keep that in mind, Keep your mind open when things seem shocking or taboo. Be a respectful observer of the local culture, but not a judge.
Step nine: Find out about the international exchange rate.
You can find international exchange rates by searching for currency converters online, Do some calculations and become familiar with what the foreign currency equals in your home currency.
You should carry some of the local cash on hand, but be sure to use an ATM or visit a bank, rather than paying exorbitant fees at conversion centers in the airport.
Speaking about money and insurance, Money magazine has been around for quite a while and they’ve become an authoritative force in their industry.
Because of the current pandemic chaos, some of you using credit cards or considering getting one may be worried about it, so regarding this issue, be sure to read their article on the best travel credit cards in 2020.
Side note: It’s also a good idea to see how much things you may need or want (like coffee, a newspaper, a hotel room, a bottle of wine) cost in your country of destination so you aren’t surprised upon arrival.
Pro tip: Notify your bank of your trip.
Some banks or credit card companies may decline your card if they aren’t aware that you are in a foreign country.
You may call the customer service center and let them know where you are going and how long you will be staying in order to avoid delays or declines.
Step ten: Add an international calling plan to your phone service.
Many mobile phones will not work in locations other than your home country. Contact your service provider and inquire about international calling plans as well as data rates.
Side note: You can purchase pre-paid calling cards before your trip and use a landline phone, such as in your hotel, to contact friends and family members back home.
Pro tip: You can also use free communication apps, such as Skype, FaceTime, and/or WhatsApp that use the Internet for phone and video calls as well as text messages.
International travel shouldn’t be rocket science, but rather a thrilling adventure.
Just be sure to plan ahead of time and have everything in place,Keep calm and enjoy your travels.