Henna Hands

Last week I gave my general top tips to get your travel experiences off on the right foot. Today, I bring you a more specific list: International Travel Top Tips. It can be daunting to go on your first, or even tenth, venture abroad, so hopefully these tips will guide you on your way.

  1. Documents Accessible: make sure to have your passport and visa, if needed, easily accessible to you, but not a potential thief. There is nothing worse than stuffing the essential documents in the bottom of your bags and having to dig through everything while holding up the line. I like to keep my documents tucked into the book I’m reading. A large book is harder to steal and I know exactly where they are.

  2. Steripen is a must if traveling somewhere that doesn’t have reliable and safe drinking water. Iodine tablets are also fantastic for making water safe to drink.

  3. Have some currency before you leave. Have some small bills and coins in the local currency already in your pocket when you arrive. Research before you leave how to tip according to the local customs. My peeps do their best to not further the stereotype of rude Americans. 😉

  4. Currency Conversion Rate: Figure out an easy way to convert the exchange rates in your head, or download an app that does it for you.

  5. Electricity adaptor/ converter. No one wants to fry their electronics, so do yourself a favor and research if an electricity adaptor/converter is needed before you go. They are fairly easy to pick up at your local electronics store, or online.

  6. Charge devices before leaving the house. Many airports don’t have nearly enough outlets for everyone that needs one, or they charge through the nose for one, so prepare in advance. It also helps to keep them in airplane mode or shut down whenever possible.

  7. Bring comfort items. This could either be a pillow, blanket, extra scarf/shawl or whatever you feel you need to make the journey as enjoyable as possible.

  8. Keep moving. While in the airport, whether before your flight or during a layover, try to keep moving. You will be sitting for a long period of time very shortly, so burn the energy and lubricate those joints while can. Bonus, you will sleep better on the plane.

  9. Create copies of essential documents: Make two copies of your credit and debit cards as well as your passport and visa before you leave. Leave one with a trust person at home or in a safe location. Keep the other copy with you, but please, not in the same location as the originals. (TIP: Don’t buy a money belt or hidden pouch unless you want a big target on your forehead saying “I’m a tourist. Please rob me.”)

  10. Don’t use traveler’s checks: With the prevalence of atms  and the cash you should already have on hand you shouldn’t need traveler’s checks. (Tip: They are a pain to cash and usually have larger fees than using an atm. If you will be traveling a lot internationally, get a credit card that doesn’t have foreign transaction fees.

  11. Choose accommodations wisely. Use Airbnb to stay locally, or use my Ecotourism List to find a place to stay.

  12. Don’t wear flashy clothing and accessories.This will paint a bigger target on yourself and I don’t want anything to happen to you.  I even go so far as to leave my engagement/wedding set at home in favor of a plain white gold band.

  13. Vaccinations and Medications: Check with your doctor about any additional vaccinations or medications you may need a few months before leaving.

  14. Learn a few words of the local language. The basics I like to know are: Yes, No, Please, Thank you, Where is the restroom?, How much, Numbers (as high as you can), Water, and a few words that describe the local foods, such as rice, beef, pork, chicken, soup, etc. The average person eats three times a day, so knowing how to get basic foods from a street cart or menu will be incredibly helpful. (Tip: If you are not able to memorize the numbers, your cell phone calculator can act as a translator. Type in the price you are willing to pay for something and then show it to the vendor. The can respond in kind until an agreement is reached).

  15. Budget in downtime! Accept that you won’t be able to do every single thing.

Last but certainly not least!

   16.  Smile. It is universal!

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I’d love to know your top tips. So if I missed your favorite leave it in the comments below.

Join the conversation; your thoughts are welcome!