Traveling outside the country is always a mix of excitement and utter nervousness. One on hand, you’ll be trying lots of great new foods while you’re there but on the other hand, you’re worried about getting lost.
You’re beyond excited about the tours you have planned but at the same time, you’re worried about spending all that money. Is it really going to be worth it?
No worries, fair traveler, below we have some tips on preparing you for your first trip across the ocean, border, lake, sea or whatever is separating you from your international vacation.
All the Red Tape
After you’ve picked out your destination but before you travel, you need to double-check on a few items:
- Do you need a visa?
- Do you need any vaccines?
- Do you need any other documents?
Airlines usually aren’t going to make sure that you have all of those documents ready and available, so it’s up to you to double-check before you arrive to immigration and passport control.
Visas for some countries are no more than electronic visas that can be obtained in minutes while others take days or weeks to process. Some countries may ask for proof of vaccines before you enter and scheduling an appointment with your doctor may take some time.
Lastly, there are always other, random documents you may need such as proof of accommodation, proof of finances or even a letter of invitation to a country.
Be Smart With Technology
Technology is simultaneously one of the greatest blessings and curses in our lifetime. It allows to do so much and have access to plenty of opportunities, but it also comes with its risks.
For starters, make sure your phone is backing up any photos, files and videos while traveling. Having your phone lost, broken or stolen is never part of the plan, but it helps to make a backup plan just in case.
Add a VPN to your electronic devices. VPNs, or virtual private networks, help protect you while you’re online, making sure any prying eyes don’t snoop on you while using public networks.
Show me the Money
Unless you’re traveling around the EU (and more specifically, the EEA), you’re going to be using a different currency.
For some of the best rates, make sure you’re withdrawing money from a machine using your credit card. While it may be tempting to head to your local bank and withdraw money there, the fees tend to be outrageous and the rates even worse.
Taking money out with your credit card will give you the best rates with a much smaller fee. When it’s time to change money back, first see if you know anyone who is traveling to that country before looking for an exchange place.
Also, advise all of your credit card and debit card companies of your intended travel plans! The worst thing that could happen is you arrive only to find out you’re locked out of your money.
When you’re looking for your flight and lodging options, it’s best to do so with a few months in advance. While there are reports that making a hotel reservation 2-3 days in advance will give you the best rate, you’re going to be running the risk of not having any accommodation.
The first thing you should be doing is looking for your flight information. Make sure you’re using reputable sites like KAYAK, Expedia or Priceline. If you’re not sure, check out the reviews of certain travel websites to make sure you know they’re legitimate.
Buying tickets from a sketchy website may result in you being kicked off a flight if it’s overbooked or simply not allowed to board at all.
Contrary to popular belief, looking for flight or hotel reservations while browsing in incognito mode will not ensure the best prices.
Don’t Be Afraid to go a Bit Over Budget
No, you shouldn’t be ordering a taxi everywhere you want to go or calling up room service every night. But you should be willing to go over your budget just a little bit.
Look to save money on the essentials, like your flight. If a flight is $200 cheaper but two hours longer, that seems pretty worth it.
But while you’re on vacation, the important part is to relax and disconnect. If you want to go swim with dolphins, go swimming with dolphins. If coming to the US and you wish to check out the night scenes, go ahead and pay a visit to the best clubs in Miami. A vacation is all about treating yourself and making sure you come back rested, relaxed and rejuvenated.