International travel can be exciting, but planning and preparing for it can be overwhelming. Taking care of a few things before you go is essential to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. Here are some tips on how to prepare for an international vacation.
Check your passport
Most countries require that your passport be valid for at least six months beyond the dates of your return trip. If it's not current, you must renew it before you go. If you need a visa to enter the country you're traveling to, you need to make sure your passport is valid first and then apply for one if necessary. Some visas can take several weeks to process, so it's important to do this well in advance of your trip. You should also make copies of your passports and any other important travel documents. Keep the copies in a separate location from the originals and consider leaving a copy at home with an emergency contact. This will help you if your original documents are lost or stolen.
Check the weather
Before you start packing, check the weather in your vacation destination. The weather may dictate what clothing and accessories you need to pack. If you plan to do a lot of sightseeing, focus on comfortable clothing and shoes that are easy to walk in. Keep in mind that some restaurants have a dress code and may require long pants for men or collared shirts. Resist the urge to pack everything and choose versatile clothing that can be mixed and matched. Then add items specific to your destination and activities, such as a swimsuit or hiking boots. Dressing in layers will help you mitigate any weather shifts during your trip. Also, don't forget the sunscreen!
Prepare for the flight
Your international travel likely includes a long flight, so consider things that help make flight more enjoyable. Charge all of your devices and download some movies, books, or podcasts before heading to the airport. Bring your cables on the plane with you as many aircrafts are now outfitted with in-seat charging capabilities. If you plan to sleep on the flight, you may want a neck pillow, earplugs, or an eye mask to ensure you can sleep comfortably. Any portable batteries must be packed in your carry-on and are not allowed in your suitcase.
Bring a travel adapter and charger
Different countries may have different types of electrical outlets, so research what is used in your country of travel and be sure to bring an electronic travel adapter. You should also bring a charger for all your devices and a portable charger in case you can't find an outlet. If you forget an adapter, check with the front desk of your hotel, as they may have one you can borrow or know where you can purchase one.
Don't forget your medications
If you take prescription medications, make sure to bring enough for your trip. You should also obtain a copy of your prescriptions and any necessary medical information in case of an emergency.
Take care of your finances
Make sure you have notified your bank and credit card companies about your trip. International charges may be flagged as fraudulent if they are unaware of your travel plans and your cards may be frozen. Withdraw in advance cash that you plan to bring with you or talk to your bank about getting the local currency in the country you are traveling to. Most US banks charge a foreign ATM fee of $2.00 to $5.00; check with your bank before you depart to find out the exact amount.
Staying in touch
Check with your phone carrier to see their international roaming rates and coverage in the country you'll be traveling to. Consider purchasing an international data plan if you'll be using data extensively. Messaging apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger can make it easier to communicate with friends and family over Wi-Fi rather than making calls or sending SMS messages. Leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or family member so you can be contacted in case of emergency and contact the Post Office to have your mail held for the duration of your trip.
Consider a Travel Protection plan
Finally, consider purchasing travel insurance. This can help protect you in case of lost luggage, trip cancellation, or medical emergencies while away.
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