Are you thinking about traveling abroad or do you already have an overseas vacation booked? These international travel tips can help your trip go as smoothly as possible.
If you want to get money and travel expert Clark Howard’s best travel tips, watch the video above!
Top International Travel Tips
Remember the 24-Hour Rule
Many airlines will let you amend or cancel your flight without penalty if you do so within a day of booking. If you forgot to check your calendar or booked without thinking it through, this rule can really come in handy.
Know the Passport Rules
Research your destination country’s rules related to passport expiration. Some countries require that you have six months remaining on your passport from the time you’re scheduled to depart. Be sure to double check your passport before you book. If you need to renew your passport before your vacation, do it as soon as possible so that you aren’t cutting it close as your trip approaches.
Make Copies of Your Important Documents
Print at least two copies of your passport photo page and other necessary travel documents. Take at least one with you and leave another somewhere safe at home. That way, if your documents are lost or stolen you or your loved ones have access to back-ups.
Exchange Your Money the Right Way
Clark advises that you wait until you arrive at your destination to exchange money. Take some time at an airport kiosk to grab your walking-around money. If you feel more comfortable, exchange a small amount before your trip, but beware the fees!
Set Up Credit Card Travel Alerts
You don’t want your credit cards to get automatically locked down while you’re on a trip! Go online or call your issuer to let them know where you’re going and when.
Find a Credit Card Without Foreign Transaction Fees
A credit card without foreign transaction fees will keep you from wasting money on bogus fees. Find out if any of your current cards have this perk or consider applying for one before your trip.
Complete Purchases in Local Currency
Before you buy anything with a credit card abroad, make sure the transaction is completed in local currency rather than U.S. dollars! Some foreign retailers and credit card companies want to rip you off and charge you more for your purchase by completing the transaction in U.S. currency.
Keep Your Valuables Safe
While traveling, keep credit cards, important documents, and a little extra money on your person in a secure location. Clark recommends a money belt or over-the-neck pouch that you can tuck under your clothes. You can also purchase theft and tear-proof bags to secure your items.
Always separate things like credit cards and cash so that if a thief steals from one place, you still have money to continue your vacation.
Use U.S. Government Websites
The U.S. Department of State site has information on travel advisories, as well as travelers’ checklists and information about the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for travelers going off the beaten path.
The U.S. Embassy site lists locations of U.S. embassies all over the world. You should go to your local embassy if your essential travel documents are lost or stolen.
U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs
Research Insurance Options
Travel insurance may be a good idea, but before you decide whether to get it, read our guide to help you choose whether it’s worth your money.
Looking into travel medical insurance may also be a good idea. Read our article on the three things you need to know before you purchase a policy.
Download Mobile Passport Control
Think About Applying for Global Entry
Don’t Bring Anything Too Valuable to You
If you will be devastated by losing that heirloom ring, chances are you shouldn’t bring it on vacation.
Find Out Baggage Weight and Size Restrictions
Airlines may have varied limits on baggage depending on your destination, so check how big and heavy your bag can be before you grab your normal suitcase. If you don’t, you could be faced with monumental fees.
Know What to Carry On and What to Check
Only pack clothing and big liquids in your checked bag. An airline isn’t liable for any lost or stolen checked items. Read and print Team Clark’s general packing checklist here. Find our international travel packing list here.
Always pack important documents, copies of those documents, medications and other valuables in your carry-on and personal item. Read more about packing a carry-on bag for a short trip here.
Bring Comfortable Shoes
Take this tip seriously: Packing comfortable shoes that you can wear multiple days is essential.
Maximize Your Power
If you’re going to another country, chances are you’ll need a plug converter. Universal converters come equipped to handle multiple types of outlets. Consider bringing a small power strip to plug in multiple chargers at once (just in case your companion forgets theirs). Also, bring a portable phone charger for those long days of exploration.
Be Prepared for the Plane
Sitting on a plane can be more taxing than you think, but bringing a few things can make it more pleasant. Those include:
- Neck pillow
- Eye mask
- Hand sanitizer
- Downloaded entertainment
- Portable electronics charger
- Water bottle
Research International Phone Plans
Many cell phone carriers will offer add-on international plans, but the best providers have some international communication included. Clark loves T-Mobile’s flexibility when it comes to travel, but find our other recommendations here.
Investigate Mobile Hotspots
If you think you’ll be using a computer or you don’t have an international phone plan, buying or renting a mobile hotspot might be worth it.
Download Messaging Apps
Even if you have an international phone plan, communicating over Wi-Fi can be more efficient. Download an app like WhatsApp, Viber or WeChat and have your loved ones and travel companions download it as well so that you can communicate easily.
Know How to Get Around
If you’re not renting a car, chances are you’ll ride public transportation, grab a taxi or order a rideshare vehicle. Research your destination and download appropriate apps to help you on your travels. There are often traveler discounts or multi-day passes for trains or local public transportation so investigate ahead of time to find the best deals!
Don’t Get Lost in Translation
In my experience, most people appreciate the effort of learning a little of their language, and common phrases are a good place to start. Try apps like Bravolol’s Travel Phrasebook or Google Translate. For some languages, it can even translate images! If you’re having trouble with a menu or a street sign, you can just snap a picture to figure it out.
Know How to Tip Appropriately
Not every country has the same tipping customs, so you’ll want to find out what they are at your destination ahead of time.
Conquer Jet Lag the Right Way
Don’t plan big activities for your first day. Instead, take it easy and try to go to sleep at a normal time local to where you are. If you’re in a city, try finding a hop-on/hop-off bus to orient yourself in your new environment.
Don’t Post Right Away
Posting on social media while you’re gone lets people know that your house may be empty and open. Wait until you’re back to share.
By following our travel tips you can be prepared to conquer any destination on the map and have an exciting journey.
If you’ve been thinking about traveling abroad, take the leap! Before you know it you’ll be an experienced world traveler.
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