A lot more planning is needed when you are travelling to a country different from your own. While fussing over visa, insurance, vaccination and medication, you need to get acquainted with the cultural differences and customary protocol of the host country. Additionally, you have to ensure your safety and security as well as be well-prepared to dexterously deal with emergencies. All in all, you wish to pull out all the stops to make your trip memorable. However, if you don’t know where to start and how to go about it, you might end up feeling overwhelmed and completely stressed out. This article will provide lots of international travel tips.
Getting ready for International Travel
There are a few things that you need to do even before you begin packing your bags for the trip. Initial preparation will keep you safe overseas. Also, if any emergency comes out of the blue, you will know exactly how to tackle it without fiddling with the law of the land. Therefore, it is advisable to spend as much time as possible to put everything in place.
The fear of unexplored quarters tends to raise innumerable doubts and apprehensions. The best way to dispel trepidation is to seek some expert advice and when it comes to safety guidance for international traveling no one can do it better than Leah Walker. An acclaimed travel writer and travel ambassador for Atout France USA, Leah regularly contributes to top-notch travel magazines and guides as The Daily Meal, Travel Squire, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, Luxe Beat Magazine, The Dalily Basics and Bonjour Paris. Her blog Leah Travels ranks among the top travel blogs of the world.
Walker suggests, When traveling to foreign countries, respect the culture and customs of the place you’re visiting. This can be accomplished in part by learning a few phrases in the language (please, thank you, etc.) and dressing appropriately. By all means, don’t expect a foreign country to be like home and embrace the differences. That’s one of the beauties of travel”experiencing life beyond your borders and outside of your comfort zone.
Traveling with kids to a foreign destination can be quite challenging, especially if you aren’t all geared up. One missing block can jeopardize everything and spoil your entire trip. Travel and lifestyle expert Amy West, who is also a mom of two wonderful kids, comes forward with some amazing tips to make your international trip with your children, fun-filled. Amy is the creator of AmyWestTravel.com and she writes regularly for USA Today’s 10Best.com. She also appeared as guest on popular shows as WJXT News 4 Jax Morning Show, The Chat and First Coast Connect. Additionally, she is associated with world-class publications like Jacksonville Magazine, Jacksonville Moms Blog, Florida Travel and Life, and American Baby magazine.
Amy states, I’d pack a good front carrier like the Ergo 360. Something that will keep baby close. Strollers can be awkward and difficult to manage in crowds and when traveling overseas you will want to limit the amount of stuff you pack. Carriers and slings get you swiftly through airports and are convenient when touring high traffic spots, she continues. Some more things to keep in mind as per Amy are:
- If you are packing a stroller look at compact, lightweight carriers like Mountain Buggy’s Nano which can fold up and be stored just about anywhere, but is still sturdy and strong.
- For long flights make sure to charge up your mobile device or iPad and keep them loaded with fun apps to entertain the kiddo. Also a pacifier or lollipop for them to suck on will help air pressure with their ears.
- Make sure to check in on the safety of the local water supply, and know when to purchase bottled water. This is especially important when babies are on formula. You don’t want baby or mom and dad catching a bug from something that could otherwise be prevented. This goes for brushing your teeth as well and for baths.
Planning and preparations can make a whole lot of difference, especially, if your little kids are also tagging along. Aubrey Zaruba, a child development specialist and ace blogger, suggests, Before traveling to a foreign destination, do your research. Look at books, search the internet, and ask for advice from others. Waiting until you reach for destination to start to figure out details will likely cause a lot of stress. Come as prepared as possible so everyone can enjoy the trip. Prepping little ones in advance for what to expect will likely decrease melt downs.
Be wary of travel warnings and alerts
From time to time, the governments, embassies and consulates issue travel advice and warnings. Sign up to get email alerts and you will never miss out any safety and security announcements issued for a particular country you are intending to travel to.
If there is a traveler program for citizens living or traveling abroad, get yourself enrolled in that program. It will become easier for you to contact the embassy or consulate in case of emergency. Also remember to check where the embassy is located in the destination country. Find out what kind of services it offers and what are its opening and closing times.
Get all the requisite travel documents
In most of the countries, you need a valid passport to enter and leave. It is the proof of your personal identity and citizenship. In several countries, it is mandatory for the passport to be valid for a period of 6-months after the date of your trip. If there is such a requirement, make sure you fulfill it to avoid hassles. Don’t forget to fill up the emergency contact details. It is advisable to scan your passport and keep the picture online in a secure storage site.
If you are traveling with kids, you might be asked to validate your relationship to the child. This is specifically done in some countries to prevent the instances of child abduction. International travel airport tips are very important to follow.
If you are intending to drive in the foreign country, get an International Driving Permit (IDP) because your normal driver license may not be useable in the host country. Ensure your driver license is up-to-date and valid. Furthermore, spend some time to learn the driving rules.
Some countries provide the facility of visa on arrival. However, if the privilege isn’t there, you need to apply for the visa.
Create an itinerary and book your flight and hotel. Avoid doing all this in the last moment as you may fail to take the benefit from early bird deals and packages.
Be prepared for unwarranted emergencies
Dealing with unwarranted emergencies in a foreign land can be quite tricky. Keep the contact details of the embassy safely and get in touch with them the moment you feel uneasy. Before leaving for the trip, write down your passport number, insurance policy details, contact details and itinerary on a piece of paper and give it to your family or friend. This will help them to reach out to you if there is a crisis at home or they are concerned about your well-being.
Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs
Every country has a different legal system. Hence, prior to your trip familiarize yourself with the laws applicable in the host country. If you land up in trouble, your passport won’t be able to save you. The embassy also will not be able to offer extensive help.
It is an important aspect because you would surely not like to overspend or unexpectedly lose all your money in a foreign land. While shopping and moving around, you need to be extra careful. Avoid interacting too much with the local people. It can be a good tactic to reduce the probability of getting duped. Instead invest in a good travel guide book and trust your instincts.
Handling foreign currency
Be sure to know the currency exchange rates applicable in the host country. Don’t carry too much of cash and never make the mistake of flaunting large amounts of money especially while paying off bills.
It is considered to be the safest way to carry the travel money abroad. The good thing about traveler’s check is that if lost or stolen, the issuing company replaces it at no extra cost. Also it doesn’t have an expiry date. However, before getting a check, make sure it is accepted at your destination and if permitted, do remember to note down the serial number.
Yet another efficient form of currency overseas. It is more convenient that traveler’s check because you can use it to access cash from any ATM machine. Moreover, it usually provides a good exchange rate. Lastly, It is accepted by almost all businesses, institutions and organizations.
In many ways your safety is in your hands. By being a little reserved and conservative you can avert several unwarranted threats. Most places abroad are usually safe. Just avoid dark alleys and dingy eateries.
Dos and Don’ts
- Remain your natural self, polite, dignified and courteous.
- Avoid traveling alone, if possible, go along with a small group.
- Make a photocopy of your passport, visa, flight ticket, hotel confirmation, health insurance, birth certificate and any other important travel documents and carry them safely in a separate bag.
- Avoid wearing expensive jewelry and flashy clothes. Keep it simple.
- Don’t drink too much of alcohol and impair your judgement.
- Be careful with your gestures and words.
- If you suffer from a medical condition that may require emergency care, always carry some identification tag or card.
- Ensure all your bags bear your residential address as well as foreign address.
- Use your common sense, if you ever get stuck up.
- If things get out of hand, get in touch with the police or embassy without delay.
To enjoy your trip to the fullest, you have to take a few health precautions. For instance, spend some time to acclimatize to jet lag and difference in culture and environment. Wash your hands often and drink plenty of fluids that are safe. Take requisite precautions with respect to food and water. Try to sleep for 7 to 8 hours each day.
In a number of countries, it is mandatory to carry International Certificate of Vaccination. Visit the embassy of the destination country and find out about all the specifics related to vaccination. If possible, ask your physician to provide you a certificate specifying the inoculations you have been administered. The certificate may also have details about the medical tests you have had prior to the trip.
Opt for only that insurance which provides you complete health coverage abroad. Many insurance companies agree to reasonably bear the cost of medication and hospitalization overseas. A few reputable insurance companies also cover medical evacuation costs. If your medical condition is not good, you may buy such a policy that takes care of emergency expenses too.
Pack enough medicines so that you don’t have to buy any during your trip overseas. Keep some extra to deal with unexpected delay. Request your doctor to provide you a letter describing your medical condition and medicines needed to keep things under control. In some countries there are restrictions on bringing prescription and non-prescription medicines. This letter will help you to explain your situation. Also keep all your medicines in your hand-baggage because checked luggage often gets stolen or delayed for any reason. Keep your medicines in their original labelled containers and ask your pharmacist to provide you their generic equivalent names too.
Language barrier can transform things as simple as asking for directions into a Herculean task. It will be extremely difficult for you to deal with emergencies where you have to describe your situation to get immediate help. Although English has become a universal language, but in countries like Germany, Russia, China, Japan, France, Poland and Tibet travelers usually face a hard time overcoming the language barrier. However, with a little bit of research and a proper phrase book you can start moving ahead.
Tackling language barrier
- Avoid using slangs, abbreviations and jargons.
- Don’t pretend to understand when you aren’t able to comprehend a single word.
- Don’t wave your hand fanatically or shout on the top of your voice in a bid to make people grasp to whatever you are trying to communicate.
- Try to learn the language of the destination country. Join a class or use the internet to learn a few useful phrases.
- Get hold of foldout translators and use them to point out to things that you need like food, taxi or station.
- If nothing works, simply hire an interpreter.
Traveling abroad can be the most memorable experience of your life if you complete all the documentation as per the requirements and make the bookings on time. Also avoid carrying too many valuables. Do plan places to conceal your cash, vital documents and jewelry. Don’t pack too many clothes and make sure they do not violate or hurt the customs and sentiments of the local people. Once you are ready for the trip, spend some time reading about the history, culture, tradition and cuisine of your destination country.