International travel is an experience that everyone should strive to experience – visiting foreign countries gives you a view into other cultures and lifestyles and broadens your world view. While it would be nice to jump on a plane at any time, some preparation in advance of international travel is best for peace of mind. Consider the following when booking international travel:
Tip # 1: It is much easier to travel abroad these days with credit and debit cards (remember the days of traveler checks?). But what if you’re abroad and an ATM doesn’t accept your card? What if your credit card is stolen or your bank thinks that it has been? Notify your bank of your travel dates and locations in advance of your trip. Doing so keeps your institution informed and less likely to think your travel is fraudulent. Also, check in advance that your credit card is accepted in the countries you are visiting. You don’t want to be without a card while traveling.
Tip # 2: Make sure your passport isn’t expired (and have copies of it on hand as well as left at home) and that the countries you are visiting don’t require a visa. Or, if they do, get that taken care of well in advance of your travel – you have no idea how long it might take to get it approved. In addition, check out the U.S. State Department’s list of travel advisories and keep an eye on any news about the countries you are visiting. Finally, when in the country, have knowledge of where the U.S. embassy is, in case of any issues that might arise during your travels.
Tip # 3: Contact your cell phone provider and add temporary international capability to your plan. You don’t want to incur roaming charges, which often break the bank. You can generally purchase a month of additional service and know in advance the expense. Here’s a comprehensive list of ways to use your phone internationally.
Tip # 4: Along the same lines of mobile phone pre-planning, take the time in advance of your trip to download any apps related to the foreign country you are visiting – guides, city maps, language translation, etc. This includes making sure you have ground transportation locked in – rail, bus and chauffeured car service if you need it. Having all of this beforehand will make your trip a lot easier to maneuver and a lot more relaxing.
Tip # 5: Take the time to fully immerse yourself in local culture. Having the opportunity to visit a foreign country does require some planning, but with some minor pre-planning, you can travel worry free and enjoy every minute of your cultural experience!