Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Tips for Travelling Internationally

Travelling internationally is a lot of fun and is very exciting. However, planning is the key. Here are few tips I have learned in my fourteen years of travel!

  • Call your bank and credit card companies and let them know you will be out of the country. Always have a back up card and/or means to get cash even though you have notified the bank and they still cut you off *shakes fist at Bank of America*

  • Buy some currency of the country you are visiting at your local bank before you leave home – enough to get you through one day (taxis, snacks etc)

  • Changing currency is expensive – use an ATM machine to get money. I don't use travelers checks anymore - it's all debit and credit cards now.

  • Don’t just put all your money in your pocket and move on. Use a security pack – especially if you are carrying your passport. There are different types and they are worn underneath your clothes.

  • Make sure your passport is current and will not expire during you time out of the country. You want to get home don’t you?!

  • Know where your country’s embassy is located in the location you are visiting. You never know what could happen.

  • Make a color copy of your passport and keep it separate from your actual passport. If your passport is lost or stolen a color copy will help speed up the process of getting a new one issued at your embassy in the country you are visiting.

  • Pack light! It’s hard to lug heavy suitcases. And if you are travelling in Europe there are more sets of stairs than elevators and escalators. Also don’t over pack because you will need plenty of room to bring back all of your new found treasures! Co-ordinate your wardrobe – its okay to wear some things twice!

  • Wear comfortable shoes but try not to stand out in black socks and sneakers – there are cute comfortable shoes out there!

  • Try not to wear clothing that says USA or NY Jets etc. – it targets you as a foreigner – better yet buy a jersey or t-shirt of the local team in the country you are visiting and blend in.

  • Prepare a budget – and stick to it. Most larger foreign cities are extremely expensive. I once paid $20.00 for two beers in a Copenhagen café set next to a canal. I quickly figured out I could go around the corner to the convenience store and buy two beers for a lot less and plop down on the canal wall and stare back at all the people in the café that were paying $20.00 for two beers. See what I did there? It was the same amount of fun too!

  • If traveling on a train use a bike lock to keep bags safely attached to the luggage racks that sit right next to the door. 

  • Always have an emergency plan including where to meet if something happens. 

  • Brush up on customs, etiquette, politics of the country you are visiting – know what is appropriate or not appropriate to discuss with the locals. When in England always speak of the weather. When in Ireland don’t bring up the Troubles.

  • Prepare an itinerary and give copies to family/friends not going on the trip with you – include phone numbers of hotels, flight info etc.

  • Check websites of your must do attractions and make sure of opening/closing times and days that it may be closed – don’t want a Wally World incident like the Griswolds!

  • Be sure to take all prescription medications (in original bottles) and have enough for the trip and a few days extra just in case you are delayed.

  • Always buy travel insurance!

  • Some people will just be jerks – don’t let it ruin your trip – just walk away and go and create a happy memory

Most importantly have fun and be respectful – you are your country's ambassador!

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