When deciding for a long-term international trip, it is important to prepare properly. Travel, done correctly is one of the great wonders of the world – just make sure you heed our advice before taking off:
1. Check Visa Requirements
This is the most important tip, and a lesson that you do not want to learn the hard way. Every country has different visa requirements for tourists that dictate length of stay, documents you will need, immunizations that are required, and specific fees or taxes.
Usually, destinations require you to obtain a traveler’s visa prior to your flight, and this can take upwards of a month to obtain. Visas vary in length, for instance, China allows up to ten years on a visa, whereas Thailand is just a few months. Plan ahead so that you don’t realize at the last minute that the embassy or consulate of the country you are planning to visit has an appointment time available for you.
2. Get Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is very important. It is easy to think everything will be fine. It usually is… until it isn’t. Having extreme fatigue, dysentery, or just a really bad cold will be enough to convince you that staying at home would have been better – unless you have travel insurance.
3. Choose Travel Dates Carefully
Every destination has different costs of living, so, keep that in mind when planning your trip. Three months in Southeast Asia may only equate to two weeks in London.
Travel during off-season to avoid crowds and ground prices – August in Miami, and March in New England may not be the best time to travel because of the weather, but the payoff of fewer people and more affordable accommodation might just be worth it. If, however, you must travel during the high season, never fear – there are many ways to beat the system.
4. Pack Appropriately
When packing, try to travel light, as airlines usually charge for extra bags and have certain weight limits. Packing for an international trip can be more daunting since there are many products you may not be able to find in other countries, often leading to over packing.
To avoid extra fees due to overweight bags, check your airline’s weight restrictions and use a digital luggage scale at home before leaving to the airport. To save some space in your luggage, try using a space saver bag that will compress your clothing and leave a lot more room in your bag. You may also want to keep your luggage safe by using a TSA approved lock.
Try to pack all liquids in your checked bag. Any liquids that you want to take in your carry-on bag must be under 3.4 ounces and should be carried in a 1 quart sized plastic bag. This travel bottle set contains bottles that you can fill with whichever liquids you want to take on your trip. They already meet the size requirements so it is one less thing to worry about.
Remember to pack essentials like insect repellent, toiletries, a portable charger, a small first aid kit, some medicine (Advil, NyQuil, etc), a waterproof phone pouch for any water sports and a travel adaptor.
You should also pack an extra set of clothes and some essentials in your carry-on bag in case your checked luggage gets lost.
You don’t want to be stuck in a foreign country without any documentation. Like luggage, documents can be lost anytime. Make sure to take copies of your passport and other forms of ID with you. You should also leave a copy of your passport at home or with a friend so that they can send it to you in case of an emergency.
Speaking of passports, check the expiration date on yours. Some countries may deny entry to anyone with a passport that will expire in six months or less. This is to prevent you getting stuck in their country without a passport. If you are getting a new passport for your trip, remember the renewal process may take about 3 months.
In case of an emergency, write down the phone number of the nearest US embassy in the country you are travelling to. When in doubt about anything, you can always contact them.
Before travelling, check out the conversion rate for the currency the foreign country uses. Take some cash with you so that you can exchange it at the airport or use your debit card at an ATM when you arrive. You should also carry cash on you to pay fees at the airport (entrance/exit fees can vary from $10 to $200) since some credit cards may not always work in foreign countries.
Do not flash large amounts of money and keep it with you at all times. Consider using a money belt to stash your cash. If you plan on using your credit or debit card make sure to call your bank first and tell them where you are travelling. This will prevent your card from getting blocked by your bank, since most banks will read credit card use in a foreign country as fraud.
Some countries may require certain vaccinations before entering. They may ask for a yellow card showing proof of vaccinations. Please research health requirements for the country you are travelling to in order to avoid surprises.
Additionally, U.S. health experts recommend certain vaccinations before travelling to certain countries, you can check out the CDC recommendations here.
Every country’s laws are different. Check local laws for your destination in order to avoid any legal trouble overseas. Things that may seem silly in the US can actually be big offences abroad, and you definitely don’t want to ruin your vacation by ending up behind bars.