Thank you VisitorsCoverage for sponsoring this post. VisitorsCoverage gives you peace of mind while traveling.
International travel does not have to be stressful. Let me repeat that — international travel does not have to be stressful. I get quite a few questions each month from people who are planning their first big international trip or preparing to head to a place they’ve never been and are stressed. First let me say — you’re going to have an amazing trip. Second, take a deep breath — traveling is supposed to be enjoyable! All that considered, I get it. Today, I’m sharing my 7 best tips for international travel and a few helpful pointers if you’re heading out of the country for the first time.
7 Tips For International Travel
1. Check your passport. Before you leave home, double check how much time you have left on your passport before it expires. Some countries won’t let you in if your passport expires within 6 months, so this is a very important step that only takes a few seconds to confirm. Belize, Indonesia, Brazil, China, Singapore, Thailand, and Kenya are just a few of the countries who have a firm 6-Month-Validity Passport Rule. Just double check while you are planning — first, if where you’re heading has this rule and second, when your passport expires.
2. Use your credit card. Cash might be king in some areas, but if you can use your credit card, it’s often a better exchange rate. Be sure to tell them NOT to convert it into your home currency and just run it in the foreign currency. To note, some credit cards will tack on a foreign transaction fee (it’s high!), but the ones we use do not. This is something to double check before you leave!
Tips For International Travel
3. Speaking of credit cards — if you plan to use them, let the credit card company know before you leave. By alerting them ahead of time that you’ll be traveling to specific countries over a specific date range, they can make sure your card isn’t frozen unnecessarily for fraud.
To note: it’s important to let them know exactly which countries you’ll be in. While traveling one time, I neglected to do this. My information was lifted and thousands of dollars were charged in another country, but not initially flagged for fraud. Eventually it all got worked out, but it was a total mess and one I could have easily avoided.
4. If you’re a U.S. citizen, check the State Department’s travel website. This site will give you insight into the country you are visiting, including if any vaccinations are required, visa protocols, safety levels, and any important messages from the embassy. You can also register with the embassy for your travel dates, which is helpful in case of emergencies in-country where your government may need to contact you.
5. And speaking of emergencies, when Dane and I are going on more adventurous trips that take us to far-off or remote places that would be harder for us to get immediate medical attention in a worst-case-scenario situation, we take the extra precaution and invest in travel insurance. Do we want to have to use it? Absolutely not, but it’s the things we aren’t planning on, like an emergency situation, that make us think twice about leaving home without it.
To be honest, I used to think that travel insurance was a waste of money, but after chatting with a friend who had to pay out-of-pocket for an emergency medical evacuation, I’ve completely changed my stance. Which one would you rather pay for, Kait? I can’t predict the future, but I CAN help to ease the burden if something miserable happens. Make sure you look into VisitorsCoverage travel insurance options while booking travel so that you’re covered in case of any unforeseen events. Packing some “peace of mind” helps you explore the world worry-free. I think travel insurance is a good idea for international trips. Traveling can be unpredictable!
6. And on the topic of packing “peace of mind”, check in with your doctor prior to leaving. Some countries require specific vaccinations (our trip to Kenya required the yellow fever vaccination) and you will be asked for proper documentation when you enter the country. Let me be clear — this should be done as soon as you book your trip. It took us several weeks to track down a hospital that could provide us with yellow fever vaccinations, so make sure you don’t wait until the last minute. While visiting your doctor, they might also recommend refilling prescriptions and prescribing some additional medications just in case of common traveling health woes.
7. Research all the top places you want to visit on your trip ahead of time. Does it require advance tickets? What is the best time of day to go there? Should I anticipate it being open/closed that time of year? These are all questions that are easily answered if you can do the legwork prior to departure and saves some potential annoyance while you’re on vacation. There is nothing worse than having your heart set on a certain landmark or activity, only to realize when you arrive that it’s been booked solid for months.
International travel can be really intimidating, because there are many moving parts, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. I hope these international travel tips are helpful for anyone who is planning their first trip, thinking about an international vacation, or just a fellow travel enthusiast!