Monday, February 8, 2016

10 Tips for International Travel

I have only started recently to travel internationally, but I have already found that international travel often involves a lot more planning than domestic travel. Big shocker, I know, but a fact that can be easily overlooked when one is excitedly anticipating an amazing trip. Here are my tips and reminders for traveling internationally.

1. Before you pack anything, figure out what can and cannot be moved across borders. These items vary by country, region, amount, and how lax your border patrol officer is. I would highly recommend checking out the US Customs and Border Protection website if you are uncertain about anything.

2. Figure out if you will have cell coverage. Does your data plan cover other countries? Can you add a country onto your plan before your trip? If the answer is no or you do not figure out this detail in time, you can forget using Google Maps to help navigate you through a place you have never been to.

3. Speaking of phones, make sure you will be able to plug your electronics into outlets. This article from REI provides a ton of information about how to choose the right adapter.

4. Call your bank and inform them you will be traveling internationally. Nothing will put a damper on your trip quicker than not being able to use your credit card.

5. On the topic of money, always have cash on hand. Many banks will exchange, but you will need to check with your bank first. I know for fact the Bangor Savings Bank will exchange American and Canadian money.

6. Have a very basic command of the language or a very knowledgeable guide or friend with you. It is far easier to ask someone where a restroom/restaurant/hotel is than it is to wander aimlessly around somewhere you have never visited.

7. This will sound incredibly silly to anyone who is an experienced traveler or a non-American, but review your metric. It is quite jarring to suddenly be driving in kilometers instead of miles. It is also quite jarring to be pulled over by a police officer because you cannot figure out what the speed limit is.

8. Make copies of all your important documents and keep them in a secure place. Places such as Rome and Istanbul are notorious for pickpockets. You do not want to be caught without a passport. You can even invest in one these babies if you want to be particularly safe and oh-so stylish.

9. If you do not already have a passport, apply for one nice and early. It takes at least 4-6 weeks to get a passport card and 6-8 weeks to get a full passport. Here is the website to help you find a passport acceptance facility.

10. Get a professional passport picture. I tried to do this myself and failed miserably because there are so many rules. I paid $12 to get two passport photos at Walgreens and it did not cause me to pull my hair out in frustration.

I hope that you found these rules helpful. Enjoy wherever in the world life takes you!

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