100 International Travel Tips to Put More “Bon” in Your Voyage

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100 International Travel Tips to Put More “Bon” in Your Voyage

100 International Travel Tips to Put More “Bon” in Your Voyage

Before you go

1.    Before you even plan your trip, check with the US Department of State for country-specific info such as visa and travel safety warnings in specific countries.

2.    If you are concerned about your safety, you can also register your trip with the US Department of State so they can contact you if there is a crisis in the country where you are traveling or an emergency at home.

3.    Go to the official website of the country you are visiting to check for any regulations or current events that may affect your travel experience.

4.    Check out the US Embassy website for your destination, and print out the address and phone number of the embassy to take with you.  These offices can help you with passports and medical assistance.

5.    Leave your itinerary and complete contact information, including hotels, flights, train schedules, driving schedules, etc. with someone at home.

6.    Many basic cell phones do NOT work in foreign countries. You need to check with your carrier before leaving. You may need to add a temporary plan to the phone you have or use a completely new phone made for international calling.

7.    Make a photocopy of your passport and driver’s license; bring an extra passport photo and keep them separate from your original IDs – just in case you lose your original and need help from a US embassy.

8.    Make certain your medical insurance will cover your trip. If not, you can take out supplemental insurance. Definitely purchase travel insurance. It's worth it for the peace of mind, at the least.

Hotels

9.    Do your best to get a recommendation from a friend or a well-trusted guidebook when choosing a hotel overseas. You should not rely solely upon a website or photos online.

10.    Make certain you understand the exact location of the hotel and the safety of the neighborhood where it is located before making reservations.

11.    Add up all hotel charges and taxes before making your reservation to be sure you understand the total amount you will owe at the end of the stay.

12.    If you make reservations online, do so at the hotel’s official website rather than a third party site that works on commission. This will likely guarantee the lowest price and will ensure that your reservation is valid.

13.    Reconfirm all hotel reservations either online or via phone, so you do not have any unpleasant surprises when you arrive. Print out confirmations with phone numbers and bring these with you.

14.    Bring directions to the hotel from the airport or wherever you’ll be starting from. If you’ll be taking a taxi, give these directions to the driver. You’ll be less likely to get ripped off.

15.    Never leave valuables in your hotel room such as jewelry, electronics, passports, or money.

Packing

16.    Check baggage restrictions with your airline by going to the airline’s website. Many airlines now charge for checking baggage, and fees can be steep for extra bags and heavy luggage.

17.    Put your name and cell phone number inside your luggage as well as outside, in case it falls off the outside.

18.    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows you to lock your luggage only when you use a universal lock they can open for inspection. Check out the website for further info.

19.    Do not pack any valuables in your checked luggage including your keys, electronics, jewelry or anything you’d be devastated to lose.

20.    Carry your passport, money, traveler’s checks, itineraries and guidebook with you on the plane.

21.    A hidden money belt is the safest way to hold your passport, cash and traveler’s checks. These are the items that, if lost, will end your trip abruptly.

22.    Leave both the expensive jewelry and the affordable jewelry that looks expensive at home. Thieves will not take the time to appraise your bling bling before they decide to rob you or not. (This is my simple way of saying it is not fun to get robbed.)

23.    Camera equipment is so important for any trip. Make sure yours works before leaving home. Carry your camera onboard. Bring extra batteries and cards. 

24.    Bring extra batteries for all your electronics.

25.    Include in your toiletries bag: Diarrhea medicine, band-aids, thermometer, antibiotic ointment, pain reliever and sunscreen.

26.    Put all liquids, like shampoo bottles in Ziploc bags so they do not ruin your luggage if they happen to leak. 

27.    Be sure to pack electrical adaptors appropriate for your destination.

28.    Pack clothing made for traveling that can easily be hand washed and dried overnight. There are new laundry sheets that work as detergent, softener and static prevention. They are lightweight and take up little room.

29.    Roll, rather than fold, your clothing before packing to avoid wrinkles.

30.    Always include a few plastic garbage bags for laundry or other items. They take up very little room.

31.    Don’t forget rain gear if you are going to a rainy place. Plastic ponchos take up hardly any space.

32.    No matter how lightly you think you packed, you probably packed too much. Ask a well-traveled friend for a second opinion. You will be dragging your luggage around a lot more than you think you will - and trust me – this will take a huge toll on you. No one else cares if you wear the same few outfits over and over again.

Medicine

33.    Research to determine if any vaccinations are needed before traveling to a particular country.

34.    Before traveling to a foreign country, have your doctor write you a prescription for basic antibiotics like the Z-Pack. This can save your life.

35.    Bring your doctor’s phone number with you.

36.    Carry on all prescription medicine in their original prescription bottles, and make sure you have extra in case your trip home is delayed. Have your doctor give you a written prescription to bring along.

37.    If you take any prescription medicine containing narcotics, have your doctor write you a note stating the necessity and reason for you taking this drug.

100 International Travel Tips to Put more "Bon" in your Voyage

At the Airport

38.    Don’t talk excessively while in security lines in airports, both at home and abroad. And certainly do NOT talk or joke about bomb threats or other security issues in the news. You may find yourself in deep trouble. Rule of thumb: if you draw attention to yourself or slow up the line you’ll anger the security personnel and be asked more questions than the average traveler.

39.    Have your passport and boarding pass out and ready when you approach the security guard at the airport so you are not fumbling through your bags.

40.    Know in advance you will likely have to take off your shoes when going through security lines at airports; wear socks.

41.    Don’t leave your luggage unattended for a second or ask anyone else you don’t know to keep an eye on it for you.

On the Flight

42.    Get a good night's sleep before the trip.

43.    Exercise or at least stretch before the flight.

44.    Drink as much water as you can on the plane. Long airplane rides are extremely dehydrating, and without enough water, they will leave you feeling more lethargic than a well-hydrated person. Who cares if you have to keep climbing over a fellow passenger to use the lavatory? It is better than getting a migraine headache. By the way, alcohol and sleeping pills are dehydrating.

45.    Given the fact that airlines do not provide a lot of (good) food, it is wise to pack some healthy snacks. Fruit, nuts, trail mix, even a sandwich.

46.    You’ll feel better if you eat lightly on a long flight. Remember you are burning few calories while sitting there for hours.

47.    Get up and stretch regularly during the flight to keep your circulation healthy.

48.    If you are short (like me) put a piece of luggage under your feet to help with circulation.

49.    As soon as you reach your destination, fight your own body clock to get in sync with local time zones as far as sleeping. 

Safety Abroad

50.    Know the currency in the country you are visiting and pay attention when you are receiving change back.

51.    Don’t give friendly strangers info about your hotel or itinerary. (Sorry to sound like your mother here, but this had to be said.)

52.    Don’t dress like an affluent tourist – even if you are one. It is better to blend in than call attention to yourself in foreign places.

53.    Do not carry piles of cash with you and do not reveal what is in your wallet when paying for anything.

54.    Follow your instincts. If you feel unsafe anywhere, there’s likely a reason.

Transportation Abroad

55.    Before getting into a taxi, confirm the rate so you do not get ripped off. Many airports around the world will give you predetermined rates to protect visitors.

56.    Traveling by train is a great way to get around in many foreign countries – not just in Europe. It is safe, comfortable, and affordable and provides you with opportunities to view the countryside.

57.    Driving in a foreign country can be very stressful, so avoid this if at all possible. But if you must drive overseas, check first to see if you need an international driving license in the specific country you are visiting. And get to know the local driving laws (such as which side of the road to drive on).

58.    If you are visiting a part of the world with many islands, you may find traveling by ferry to be quite convenient and affordable.

Health Abroad

59.    Drink bottled water in foreign countries, and don’t forget that ice is made from tap water. If bottled water is not available, opt for canned soda. Check the website Is the Water Safe to Drink, to learn more.

60.    Avoid buffets and salad bars in foreign countries.

61.    Make sure the food you eat that should be cooked is indeed cooked thoroughly.

62.    If you get sick, ask the hotel concierge for assistance finding a doctor. If you get extremely ill, contact the US Embassy.

63.    If your trip does not require a lot of walking, find a way to get some exercise while away.

64.    Consider your current health condition when choosing your destination, because many trips overseas require a lot of walking.  If you know you will be walking most of every day on your journey, take the time to work up your stamina at home before leaving.

65.    Make sure you get enough sleep when abroad. Running from early morning until late at night every day will wear you down. Then if you get sick, you’ll miss out on a lot of sightseeing, business ,or whatever your activities would be.

66.    Just because you are traveling, that does not mean you have to gorge on food, gain weight on your journey and come home with your pants too tight. Enjoy in moderation. If you eat a huge lunch, consider a light snack for dinner. Excessive desserts and alcohol are the enemy.

67.    If you are venturing on an expedition type journey, beware of bacteria that you can get by walking barefoot in contaminated soil.

Dining

68.    If you are traveling to a very exotic destination, rely upon a good guidebook to recommend restaurants.

69.    Also ask the concierge at your hotel for restaurant recommendations, if indeed you have a concierge. If you're staying at an Airbnb, ask your hosts.

70.    Ask the locals where they like to eat. You’re sure to find a great restaurant this way that will likely NOT be listed in a guidebook.

71.    Try each region’s most celebrated cuisine – unless of course it completely repulses you. (Can you tell I have had experience with this?)

72.    Learn the tipping customs of the destination before you arrive. In many countries tips are included on the bill.

73.    Many restaurants in foreign countries do not make ice in the volume that we do here in America. You will likely not have ice cold drinks in many places you visit.

Make the Most of Your Visit

74.    Try to talk to locals if you can speak their language. They will give you great insight into your destination.

75.    Don’t just be a tourist. Participate in a daily activity on your trip that you’d do at home. That way you can get a real feel for life in that city. Shop at a grocery store, visit a library or take a chance and get your hair cut.

76.    Don’t stick to visiting only the most popular tourist sites. Find at least one unique, less visited spot to explore in your destination.

77.    Travel with comfortable shoes you’ve already worn before. Don’t even consider packing shoes you haven’t already worn in.

78.    Don’t plan every single minute of your day with touring. You’ll wear yourself out and will not have fun. Go with the flow part of the time and hang out with the locals.

79.    If there are specific sites you absolutely want to visit, check visiting hours before leaving. Many museums in Europe are closed on Tuesdays. Also, check to be sure the site is not temporarily closed for renovations.

80.    If you visit a large museum, monument or other site, know in advance what you’d really like to see there, since it may not be possible to take it all in with one visit.

81.    Expect to experience big differences in lifestyle overseas. Go with the flow. Choose not to be a complainer who makes a scene in a hotel lobby or restaurant because you cannot get your way.

82.    Consider keeping a journal to write short entries of each day of your trip. Years down the road you’ll be so glad you did! For total entertainment, include slang words or interesting phrases used in the countries you visit.

Shopping

83.    Don’t buy souvenir items overseas you can easily get at home.

84.    Be sure not to get stuck with a bunch of foreign cash and coin when you leave the country. Coins are not exchangeable in most places.

85.    Don’t even think about buying valuables such as expensive jewelry without making sure the dealer is reputable. Beware of bargains.

86.    Before you shop in a foreign country, learn about US Customs restrictions for importing food, cigarettes, alcohol and other products into America.

87.    If possible, have purchases shipped home so you do not have to lug them around with you. Get a business card and receipt from the retailer so you can check up on your order when you get back home.

88.    Many European countries have VAT taxes, where you can get tax refunds on your purchases by filling out forms. Don’t be one of the many visitors who do not bother with the forms and therefore forfeit their refunds.

Preparing for the Flight Back Home

89.    Pack your bag the night before you leave to make sure you can get everything in your luggage. It seems that it is always harder to fit your stuff back in your suitcase on the way home. If you have worn out any of your clothes or shoes, leave them behind to make room. You can also leave behind toiletries to make more room.

90.    Know exactly where the items and receipts are that you will be declaring for customs, and keep them all together.

91.    Make transportation plans well in advance to get to the airport. Consider traffic and other possible delays. Plan to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours (and preferably 3) before your flight.

92.    Get yourself hydrated in the airport, and I don’t mean alcohol.

93.    Buy some healthy snacks for the plane trip home.

When You Get Back Home

94.    Jet lag is often worse when returning home from overseas. Force yourself to get on a local time by eating, sleeping and being awake when everyone else is.

95.    Due to the distance, hectic schedule and experiences you had overseas, it is common to feel a little down when returning home from a long trip. Give yourself a week to adjust.

96.    Unpack as soon as possible, and wash all the clothing and jackets you packed, whether you think they are dirty or not.

97.    If you collected any business cards, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses while abroad, put those in a safe place. You don’t want to regret having lost the contact info for a new friend or business lead in a foreign country.

98.    When your credit card statement comes, compare it to your receipts to make sure you did not get ripped off. If you discover any discrepancies, contact your credit card company immediately.

99.    Don’t let too much time pass before getting your photos of the trip together in some way, whether a CD ROM, photo album or just a box. You’ll want to share your journey with family and friends.

100.    Learn from your experience. The more you travel, the more of an expert you’ll be!

 

Debbie Glade/smartpoodle is the Geography Awareness Editor for Wandering Educators.

 

 

 

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Comments (2)

  • Sarah McNitt

    10 years 2 weeks ago

    Don't forget to call your bank and/or credit card company to let them know that you'll be traveling abroad!  Sometimes they will shut down an account if they see "strange" purchases coming from abroad, thinking that your card has been stolen or your account has been hacked.

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    10 years 2 weeks ago

    sarah - GREAT tip. i've done that and it has saved me time and embarrassment! thanks.

     

    Jessie Voigts, PhD

    Publisher, wanderingeducators.com

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