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.
Read: To Plan or Not to Plan when Traveling?
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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.
Read: Best Travel Cameras or Southeast Asia Packing List (sign up at the bottom to get a free packing checklist)
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
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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!
15 thoughts on “Preparing for International Travel: A Step by Step Guide”
I have to say that I usually have my things pretty well arranged before leaving on a trip but that’s because I see preparations as a part of the fun. I book most of my trips well in advance because the time living up to it, can be so rewarding. I know some people usually stress out like crazy when they are about to leave but that usually has to do with a poor preparation… if I ever come across one of those people again, I’ll give them this link so they can get some structure out and hopefully see traveling as non-stressfull and a lot of fun, too!
Thanks @[email protected]_spaan:disqus! Yes, some people enjoy it! I actually don’t-especially applying for visas! Which is why I put together this quick list to serve as a guide!
Great tips! I will admit, when we first set out, I created a binder for my emergency contact back home (my mom) and had information about our general itinerary (we are a bit spontaneous with our plans), copies of our passports, contact information for the various embassies in the countries we were travelling to and copies of our insurance policy. Macrae just shook his head and while we didn’t need it, I always feel better knowing SOMEONE has the information in the event it is needed. We also took photos of our passport and important docs and sent it to our Google Drive (or the Cloud) so we’d always have access to it!
Ha! Now that’s taking organized to the next level. My mum does that! But hey…so important and useful to do!
We subscribe to the zip lock bags idea. We travel with about 6-8 of them all the time!
We usually travel without insurance but it could be a complete life-changer if something ever happened. Great tips.
I’m pretty clumsy (like the trip over my own two feet type) so insurance is a big deal for me 🙂
Good post! I do more or less the same, plus lots and lots of research into what places are vegan friendly 🙂
Great advice! I have to piggy back on what Hitch-Hikers Handbook said about having copies of your paperwork in the cloud or on email. Super important! I always have ziploc bags with me and I seem to never have enough! 🙂
ziplocks are every travellers secret weapon. It’s high up there along with duct tape! haha
Great tips! I would also suggest having your paperwork not only copied on paper and portable hard drive (as they might get stolen as well), but also on your email or cloud storage.
Yes!! I have soft copies with my mum which she can send to me incase anything happens. Putting them on a cloud I think is much better!
These tips are all spot on! Especially loved that you did not leave out getting a quality bag and getting travel insurance as a lot of people really do take these for granted not realizing how essential and money-savers they are if anything bad happens.
Insurance is definitely important. I dabbled on not getting one in my recent trip around Indonesia..but immediately came to my senses. Better safe than sorry.
Great advice for newbie travelers!