5 Actions to Take Before Traveling Internationally

When planning an international trip, it’s important to ensure that you’re well prepared. The logistics of a trip can be overwhelming, but there are some things to do ahead of time to make the trip safer and more enjoyable. 

The following five actions will help you have a smooth travel experience.

Obtain a Passport and Gather Travel Documents

A passport is your most important travel document. Be sure it has at least six months of validity left before you plan on traveling. You will also need to gather other documents like proof of insurance, flight tickets, hotel reservations and rental car agreements, driver’s license (or international driver’s permit), medical records, and vaccinations. 

Having all these documents may seem over the top, but if you get sick overseas, they will make life much easier. It will also be required to provide documents if you get in trouble with the law.

Protect Your Jewelry

Protecting jewelry while traveling is important. While it isn’t necessarily common, jewelry being stolen from a bag or hotel room happens more than you may think. Limit the amount of jewelry that you bring, and while traveling, keep it close in a carry on bag, in a purse, or on you.

Once in an international country, be aware of culture before going out with expensive jewelry or a Rolex watch. In some countries and cultures, it’s perfectly safe to wear whatever you want, but in others, it can be very dangerous, especially in third world countries and in places that are away from tourist areas. 

Learn Key Words of Foreign Language

The ability to speak a foreign language can be an enormous asset while traveling abroad. 

While learning an entire new language is not realistic for a weeklong trip, learning key phrases can be very helpful in getting a taxi, finding a bathroom, and ordering food.

There are many ways to learn phrases such as using an app like Duolingo. Using a phone translator can also be very helpful when asking for specific words or phrases. Even if you don’t speak the language well, locals will appreciate any efforts and be eager to help you more than if you expect them to speak English.

Be Sure to Have a Clear Plan

Plan ahead. It may seem simple, but the more you plan beforehand, the smoother the journey will be. The more you anticipate these things, the more likely you are to have an enjoyable experience abroad.

  • Know where you’re going and how long it will take.
  • Know how much it will cost (including how to will pay for everything).
  • Be prepared for the unexpected!
  • Research things to watch out for and cultural norms that may not be normal from the U.S.

If Using Foreign Currency, Know the Exchange Rate

Foreign currency exchange rates are important to know if using foreign currency. When converting money from U.S. dollars to other currencies, some banks may charge a fee. By not knowing the exchange rate, businesses can take advantage of you by overcharging and claiming that it’s the same as the dollar amount. 

Typically, a snack in Mexico costs ten pesos. If you look like a foreign tourist, they may ask for 50 pesos and claim that 50 pesos is the same as a dollar, when in reality it’s closer to 20. Unless you are familiar with the currency rate, it’s easy to go along with it and end up paying more than you should.

Finally, avoid handling large amounts of money while traveling abroad. For example, do not carry more than $100 USD at any time and make sure you have enough cash available at all times so that you can pay for taxis, meals, and other small purchases without needing all the money at once. It’s not common practice in many countries to have a lot of change lying around to break a big bill. 

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