This time last year I was gearing up for my very first trip to Europe, which I had been dreaming about forever (read all about our time in London and Brussels), and this year I’m gearing up for Europe round 2! Traveling internationally (especially for the first time) can be a little stressful, since there are quite a few differences from domestic travel. Here are a few tips for anyone traveling (or planning to) internationally.
Make sure your Passport/Visa is up-to-date
The most important of all, your Passport (and Visa if the place you’re traveling to requires one – U.S. citizens can check requirements here). You’ll need it instead of your standard ID/Driver’s License for flights, trains, and passing through any borders outside of the U.S. If you get your Passport when you’re under the age of 16, it expires in 5 years. If over 16, you’ll have 10 years. It’s also important to make sure you have a 3-month window of Passport validity after your trip dates, a typical requirement for any international travel.
Figure out money in advance
It’d be great if the whole world was on the same money system, but alas, it isn’t so. Be sure to exchange some of your cash for the currency of the country you’re traveling to before your trip. I also recommend bringing a credit card along with you that has no foreign transaction fees, to avoid extra charges on purchases.
Look into international phone plans
Unfortunately, your fast-speed mobile connections at home don’t carry over automatically with your phone. Make sure you check out your operator’s international plans to ensure you’re able to make calls, text, or use data when abroad. By doing so, you’ll be able to avoid crazy charges on your cell phone bill (as long as you don’t go over the selected plan).
Research your destination in advance
I’m 110% a planner. I like to have an itinerary mapped out for each day, so I know we won’t be spending a ton of time figuring out what to do. Whether you like a full plan like me or not, it’s good to at least have some kind of plan of the things you want to see/do, that way you’re able to maximize your time in a new place. It’s especially helpful when you’ll only be there for a short period of time.
Proactively boost your immune system
The last thing you want to deal with when traveling, is any kind of sickness. I’m a big fan of drinking Emergen-C before and during any trip, and (ideally) getting 7+ hours of sleep each night. When traveling, don’t forget wipes and hand sanitizer too, especially during flu season!
Allow time to clear customs between flights/planned activities
While of course you’re hoping for the best (a short wait time), the line to pass through customs/border patrol can get pretty lengthy depending on how many flights are arriving around the same time. I’d heard nightmare stories about 2 hour waits at London’s Heathrow airport before our trip last year, but we lucked out only dealing with about a 30-minute wait, at most. It’s recommended that you have a solid hour at least for any connecting flight.
Have you traveled internationally? What tips do you have for international travel?