Taking an international trip sounds exciting and fun. Yet for some newbies, it could be a nerve-wracking idea. With so many unknowns, it’s easy to get discouraged before you even embark on your journey. But there are some simple things you can do when traveling internationally to make your trip much smoother. Here is an international travel checklist with a few travel tips for first time travelers to help ease the stress.
10 travel tips to lessen your stress when traveling internationally for the first time
These travel tips for traveling abroad for the first time can help new travelers avoid costly mistakes, uncertainty and inconvenience:
1. Travel light and have backups
You waited at the baggage conveyor belt watching for your luggage. As each piece passed through the conveying belt, you get a little impatient. The familiar piece had not shown up. Other passengers are taking theirs and leaving the area. You waited. Finally, the conveying belt stopped. You don’t have your luggage. Unfortunately this situation happens every day all over the world no matter how well a trip is planned and where you are traveling.
Here’s a tip that most people swear by: Traveling with a carry-on is the way to go. You have all of your necessities in one luggage that you can have in the passenger’s compartment. You don’t have to wait in line at the conveying belt for checked luggage. You don’t have to worry about lost luggage, you can use hotel’s laundry services or go to a local laundromat to do your laundry.
Listen. While I had to share this tip, I will be the first to admit that this isn’t a trick that I’ve mastered. Sorry not sorry. So what I recommend is if you are NOT TEAM CARRY ON is this: Make sure that you always carry one or two outfits in your carry on. That way, if your luggage is delayed, then you’ve at least got a change of clothes or two until your bag arrives. Also, if you’ve got travel insurance (see the tip below), it will oftentimes cover incidentals you need to purchase if your luggage is lost or late.
2. Keep it simple
When traveling overseas (and hell, in the U.S.), especially if you are a woman, you don’t want to draw unnecessary attention to yourself or do things that scream “I’m rich, rob me.” So leave your designer bags at home. Don’t wear your expensive jewelry or expensive watches. You attract unwanted attention and also you may lose the items. Cute costume jewelry to match your outfit is a much better option because even leaving your expensive items in the hotel safe is not fool-proof and you don’t want to make yourself a target unnecessarily.
3. Wear a money pouch that is concealed
Pickpockets are real in various parts of the world. This is especially the case in touristy areas with large crowds and congestion. Protecting your valuables is of the utmost importance so you don’t end up in a situation of theft.
Keep most of your money and passport with you while traveling in a concealed money pouch. You can purchase a money pouch that you wear on your waist or as a concealed bag inside your shirt. And having a waterproof one also doesn’t hurt.
Also, don’t carry all of your money with you or in one compartment in your bag. Take two credit cards when traveling (at least) and keep them separate. That way if one is stolen or has a fraud situation and gets stopped (which happened to me a few years ago) you have a back up. You can also get a bag that has a lock and is anti tamper in order to protect yourself even further.
Also, you may want to consider whether you want to leave your passport in your hotel safe rather than carrying it with you, especially if you are doing outdoorsy or water activities.
4. Make a copy of your passport
Related to the above tip, I always, ALWAYS have one or two copies of my passport in the event that it gets lost or stolen when I’m traveling abroad. If something does happen, at least I have that copy that I can take to the consulate to try to assist in getting a replacement or temporary passport faster. Also, then you can leave your passport in the safe if you feel it is okay to do so and just carry a copy of the passport with you in the event it is needed.
5. Declare everything
Don’t play with the immigration of the country you are visiting. Most countries have restrictions and they are all not the same. You might get into trouble or have to pay a fine if the declaration paper is not filled in truthfully.
One example of this is New Zealand. They do not play when it comes to outside wildlife or food products, so it is best to be upfront about what you have and if it is a restricted item, they even have bins where you can throw away things like fruits, vegetables, and nuts. They are very strict and the fines are steep so it is best to be honest.
Another related tip: Be sure you know what you can and cannot bring into certain countries before you even depart so you don’t run into issues. For example, Middle Eastern countries are especially stringent on bringing in narcotics. Be sure to check for any restrictions before you arrive in the country.
6. Get travel insurance when traveling internationally
Travel insurance is an absolute must when you are traveling. But you want to make sure you choose a policy that goes beyond if you have to cancel because of illness or coverage if your bag is lost. You want to make sure you have a policy with medical coverage, including medical evacuations. That way, if something happens, they can airlift you to the safest hospital and you will have coverage. Some medical insurance requires you to pay upfront and be reimbursed but some will cover some things up front. The important thing is to have good travel insurance. You can either buy it when you purchase your tickets or you can get an annual plan.
7. Respect the culture and obey the law
All countries have their customs and laws and those laws may be different from your home country. There is even a difference between east coast and west coast of the United States. Like a guest, respect and obey the law of the land when traveling internationally. For example, most Muslim countries do not appreciate short skirts or tight pants/leggings at a place of worship. Pack appropriate clothing and shoes for visits. In Singapore, chewing gum is prohibited. When you arrive at the airport, they actually have bowls of mints for travelers. Be sure to know the laws of the land so you don’t end up locked up abroad…just saying.
8. Make sure your travel documents are valid
Make sure your passports are valid and that you have the necessary visas to enter a country. Some countries require visitor visa, like Australia and China that you have to obtain prior to arrival. Also have photocopies of all travel documents in hand just in case something happens.
Also, be mindful of the 6-month rule. Most countries require that you have at least six months of validity on your passport beyond the date of your return. If you have less, you may not make it out of the U.S. Be sure your passport is current and has the required grace period for travel. Check the State Department for various requirements.
9. Don’t get drunk!
Because of free drinks on international flights, some travelers do abuse the drinks. Also alcohol comes cheap in certain countries compared to America. You have to be aware of your surroundings and stay sober enough to act appropriately and also avoid being taken advantage of. The best way is to drink in moderation and enjoy your ride on the plane and your visit in the foreign land.
10. Use your common sense
All of the things you would do in the U.S. or your home country to stay safe are things you should do in other countries as well when traveling internationally. Now mind you this doesn’t mean you can take a weapon into another country (don’t be stupid) but being vigilant in the same way you would be at home will get you a long way abroad. If something doesn’t feel right, remove yourself from the situation and get to safety.
International Travel Checklist: Tips for Traveling Internationally for First Time Travelers
So there you have it: your international travel checklist. This is full of travel advice and tips for traveling abroad the first time. If you follow this travel advice for overseas travel, your trip will be much smoother.
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