Top 10 Things to Do Before Your Next International Trip
In the midst of planning your next vacation outside of your home country? Don’t miss out on the top 10 things to do before your next international trip; it could save you time and stress! From experience, preparation is key to having a more enjoyable adventure. Whether you’re taking a short or extended trip, this list will aid you in filling in the gaps you may have not considered yet.
Keep reading to discover the top 10 things to do before your next international trip!
1. Check your passport
Checking your passport has to be the first on this list. You can’t leave the country and enter another without this piece of important documentation. It’s a wonder to me how many travelers forget when their passport expires and don’t correlate that they have an upcoming trip. Save yourself the pain and stress of rushing at the last minute to get it renewed by checking your passport today! If you’re residing in the US like us, then you’ll want to know that routine passport processing times usually take 6-9 weeks. There is an expedited process that is around 3-5 weeks. Both options do not include mailing times. For those that find themselves in the situation I described above and have travel scheduled within 14 days, there is an expedited agency process. All options have different fees associated with the type of processing you require. You can find out more critical information here.
Pro Tip: Here’s a good reason to get a label maker! Put a label on the outside of your passport to remind you of when you need to submit for renewal and also set a reminder in your cloud calendar too!
2. Visit a Travel Doctor
A travel doctor, eh? Yes, exactly that. They are able to help you navigate what vaccines the destination may require or recommended medications should you get sick abroad. From our experience, we have been able to bring “tummy trouble” medication should the local food not agree with us. An example of this would be when visiting Indonesia and the common “Bali Belly”.
Pro Tip: Pack COVID tests even if they aren’t required in the country that you’re visiting. This way you have the convenience of testing should you fall under the weather.
Traveling while pregnant? This post is for you.
3. Review the Destination’s Travel Requirements
Next up, you’ll find yourself immersed in some research. However, it’s for a good reason! Certain destinations may have requirements of their visitors and it’s best to be prepared so you don’t encounter surprises you may not be equipped to handle. Travel requirements can change and update especially COVID-related policies. For example, Canada has gone through a couple of different changes within 2022, at one point requiring COVID testing within 3 days of country entry via air travel, while also filling out a pre-entry form on their designated app. This has since been lifted, but without the extra research, someone could have been denied entry or required to quarantine.
Pro Tip: Here is a good starting point for international travel information from the US Department of State- International travel.
4. Check out the Weather
The weather itself may be the reason for your travel! Even so, depending on whether you’re visiting during the wet or dry season of a location, you’ll want to know what you’ll be encountering once you arrive. Forward-thinking about the weather at your next destination can make packing your bags that much easier too! Our favorite site to use in our travel planning is Accuweather.
5. Create a Packing List
Following the path from our last point of checking out the weather, a packing list goes hand in hand. Now that you know what to look forward to, it should be easier to map out what clothing and items you want to bring on your next trip. Depending on the type of traveler you are, will also play a role in what you add to the packing list. Keep in mind the type of activities you are likely to take part in, and how much walking you will do.
Need help packing? Get our free travel planner!
6. Review the Airline Baggage policy
Another point you want to research is the airline’s baggage policy. During my first international trip where my goal was to only use a carry-on and backpack, this information was the most crucial. I had never faced an issue or even thought about how much my bag weighed or its measurements on a domestic flight within the US, prior to that trip. Of course, domestic flights have their limitations, but I still had not encountered an issue. I learned my lesson the hard way on a flight from Rome to London, where Ryanair’s baggage policy did not allow my carry-on in the cabin, and I was forced to check my bag. Be sure to review this important information before your next flight!
7. Purchase a Luggage Scale
Speaking of luggage policies, this next item is essential for air travel! We purchased a luggage scale so we could avoid the stress of paying overage fees when checking in for our flight. Here is the exact luggage scale that we have. We are pretty savvy travelers, but sometimes we find ourselves rearranging what’s packed in who’s carry-on to ensure we were under the weight threshold. Hey it’s about saving money where we can, right?
Is family travel on your list? Read this How to Plan a Family Trip on a Budget
8. Power Adaptors
We’ve found that many places where we have stayed have updated their outlets with USB options. However, it’s still a good idea to bring an international power adaptor or one specified for the country you’re visiting. The last thing you want is to be without a way to charge your phone or laptop!
Not sure what we’re talking about? Check out our favorite adaptor.
9. Order Currency
Ordering currency ahead of time can help you get going sooner than searching for a currency exchange booth at your destination. Often these booths cost more, especially at the airport. The other option we have succeeded with is finding a reputable bank at your destination, and using the ATM to withdraw cash. Your bank may charge foreign transaction fees, so be mindful of how much money you withdraw and how often.
Pro Tip: Sick of foreign transaction fees? Use a credit card or debit card that doesn’t have them!
10. Purchase Anti-Theft or Safety Devices
Lastly, this tip should probably have ranked higher on the list since it has to do with safety! The sometimes unfortunate side of traveling is the potential to be a target since you’re a foreigner at your destination. Target sounds like such a strong word, but never the less a reality, especially if you’re distracted by the beauty of a new place (or your kids lol). A couple of items we recommend from our experience, not to mention the peace of mind we get from using them, are an anti-theft backpack or purse and an alarm doorstopper. Both are lightweight and can easily fit in your carry-on. Another practical piece of advice we like to give is to be vigilant when out and about. Do your best to look up directions to where you want to go, so you don’t stick out like a lost tourist. Of course, more obviously- leave the flashy or meaningful pieces of jewelry at home.
BONUS: Use Your Phone the INstant you Land
We didn’t want to leave you hanging without also mentioning this handy piece of travel knowledge. Instead of the pain of finding a store to buy an overpriced SIM card for your phone, do yourself a favor and download the BreatheSim app. Purchase the phone and/or data package that fits your needs and the location that you’ll be visiting.
Pro-Tip: Not sure if buying a voice and data package is right for you? Opt for the data package and use the Whatsapp app to communicate with locals you meet. In many parts of the world, this is a common app used to communicate!
Now that we’ve covered the top 10 things to do before your next international trip, we hope you leave with more information to start planning your next foreign adventure. If you still find you need some guidance, please download our FREE travel planner.
Have you tried any (or all) of these tips? Please share with us in the comments below!
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