Some people get excited over things like shopping and sports. Heck, some people even get excited over work and school. I, just like all my wanderlust inflicted friends get excited over travel. Yes, I’m talking about nervous hand sweats until you’ve scored that dirt cheap flight to your next getaway. Spending hours Googling what to see, and in my case, where to eat. Excitement aside, contrary to what a lot of people think, a lot of preparation goes into traveling. Especially if you are preparing for international travel. Coming from someone who now is trying to make a living while traveling full-time, here are some useful tips on how to prepare for international traveling.
Do Your Research
So, you’ve booked your flights, possibly even your accommodations and you have a rough route planned out, what’s next? Now as my fellow countrymen know, it is not so easy to travel with a third world passport-but it is doable! If I were to be honest, visas stress me out. Tom can attest my many rants about this but in reality, there is nothing we can do but be prepared. If you’re one of the lucky ones who can get a visa on arrival almost anywhere, good for you! Do your research. Find out if you need a visa to enter the country and if you do, find out how long it’s valid for and what you need in case you want to renew it. Aside from visas, find out if you need any other special requirements to enter a country. Apart from the obvious visa requirements, it might also be helpful to research on do’s & don’ts in certain countries. Aside from being polite and respectful about other people’s culture, you can also get into serious trouble if you don’t give a countries’ rules heed. In fact, back in 2010, a young British couple were jailed for kissing in public in Dubai.
Prepare Your Travel Gear
For my first big around the world trip, I remember spending ages researching online for the perfect backpack. Remember, quality does matter! Your backpack is a crucial part of your trip and having one that is the right size and of good quality can change your level of comfort throughout your whole trip. Browse through sites like Amazon.com or pay a visit to your favorite sporting goods store like REI. Nowadays, although we simply just throw our gear in one bag, one thing we can’t live without is our Packing Cube. Seriously, we don’t know how we traveled without them before. Apart from those, look into the necessary travel adapters and always carry Ziploc bags. I still swear by them! They are useful to seal toiletries, carry snacks, and for many more reasons. Trust me. Also, don’t forget to research on the weather and look into taking the necessary clothes so you can avoid having to make unnecessary purchases, while you’re on your trip.
Sort out Your Finances
Sometimes, you can’t just pack up your bags and go! Especially if you’re going to a different country. Beforehand, call your bank and make sure they note down in your account that you are traveling (and to which countries). This will make sure your card works in every country you visit and avoid it being blocked soon as you try to use it. Ensure that you are able to make International withdrawals.
Insider Tip: Skip money changers and stick to ATM machines-they give you the best exchange rates!
Apart from that, check that you have all your credit card security details. I always carry $100 (broken in small bills) stashed in different places for emergency. You never know when an ATM won’t dispense cash or even worse keep your card. Here in South East Asia certain places don’t even have ATM machines!
Read: How to Save for Travel
Fix Your Paperwork
Now, I can already see Tom cringing at this heading alone. Yes, it seems highly unnecessary but you always want to be on the side of caution, especially when in another foreign country. I keep a plastic envelope, which contains my passport, copies of my passport and a list of emergency contact numbers (P.S. I hope to God my parents are reading this as they would be proud!!) Always have backup copies of your passport and identification cards. In case they get stolen, having photocopies at hand can make your life a whole lot easier. I also keep soft copies of my passport and other government issued ID’s in a portable hard drive. Apart from this, carry a list of emergency contact numbers in your wallet and in your passport case.
Get Travel Insurance
A lot of people think that traveling without insurance is no biggie. It’s not…until you get into an accident. By now, a lot of you already know I am the world’s clumsiest person. I literally trip on my own two feet! Being as accident-prone as I am, having insurance can save you a whole lot of money when things go wrong. At the tail end of my backpacking trip around the world, I flew to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam from the USA to begin my travels around Asia. I was staying at my best friend’s flat and on my very first day there, her glass shower door collapsed on me. Within seconds I was shaking, dripping with blood and completely bewildered as to what just happened. Shortly after, I was in an ambulance as I was being rushed to the ER to get stitches all over my arms and hands. Yes, freak accidents happen and the fact that it happened to me sucks…but it could have been worse if I was left to deal with the $500 medical bill. We can personally recommend World Nomad’s Travel Insurance as although they are quite pricey, they are really good with following claims and cover almost anything!
Although there seems to be a million and one things to do when preparing for international travel, remember the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the experience! The anticipation, planning, and preparation for any big trip is part of what makes it exciting. Just remember to leave all expectations at home and be willing to step out of your comfort zone as you experience everything in store for your next adventure!