6 Tips for International Travel

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. 

tips for international travel

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.

 

I’m getting ready to head off on my next European adventure! Be sure to follow along on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with my travels!

Have you traveled internationally? What tips do you have for international travel?

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  • Chrissa – Physical Kitchness

    Spot on! Nothing worse than taking a fabulous vacation and being sick!

  • Have fun on your trip!!!

  • Greta Hollar

    These are great tips! I’m heading to Greece next year and desperately needed this.

    • Thanks, Greta! I can’t wait to hear about your trip, it sounds amazing!

  • Lindsay Katherine

    I hope you have a great trip! Looking forward to seeing pictures.

    • It was a dream, Lindsay! Can’t wait to get my posts together on it!

  • And alert your credit card companies that you’re traveling so they don’t lock out your cards! I’m jealous of your euro trip. Hope you have a great time.

    • Absolutely! I actually got a few fraud alerts while I was in Europe despite calling to let them know I’d be over there. Fortunately it asked me to confirm so I wasn’t shut down (and bringing a back up card just in case is a good idea too)!

  • Have fun! I went to Paris a few years ago right after Christmas, and would love to visit Europe again during the holidays sometime–everything just seems so much cozier! Good point about connecting flights, I’ve heard horrors stories too and it would be awful to be stuck in an airport in a strange place.

    • Paris around Christmastime sounds incredible! Definitely agree about it being much cozier! It’s chilly, but there’s nothing like that Christmas magic (and beautiful lights) in the air!

  • As an add on to what you said about foreign currency, you can often get it from your regular bank! Just make sure you go in a few weeks before a trip as they may need to order the cash you need. Often they have the best exchange rates. Avoid airport exchanges at all cost, as they will most definitely rip you off. I often also hit up an ATM while still in the airport as they are 1) easy and 2) often the safest.

    Have a great trip!

    • Great idea! Several of my coworkers who travel a bit actually recommended the kiosk at the mall as the best rate in town, so that’s what I’ve used. I’ll definitely need to look into my bank next time as well!

  • Boosting your immune system..what a great tip. I’ve been abroad once and would love to go back. I need to see more of the world!

    • So agree, Chelsea! I’ve been fortunate to do quite a bit of travel (more so domestically, but a few countries as well), but I’ve still barely scratched the surface! There’s so much to see out there!

  • Autumn Dickens

    I completely agree with you about researching your destination before you arrive. I hate to see people who visit a new place and no nothing about it. It just makes it so much harder for them and puts a damper on the trip.

    • Yes! Walking tours are a great way to learn more about a new place and get some history on it while seeing the big sights!

  • I’m trying desperately to talk my husband into a Europe trip soon so this was perfect to see! Saving for *hopefully* very future use! ;)

    • That sounds so great! I hope you’re able to make it happen. Which places are at the top of your list to visit?

  • These are all great tips!
    I have never traveled to any place international except for Mexico of course but hope to go on a European trip in the near future.

    xoxo, Jenny

    • Thanks, Jenny! I hope you’re able to go on a European adventure as well. It’s incredible over there!

  • Checking out international mobile plans is a great idea for traveling! It would be so nice to be able to stay in contact while traveling overseas!

    • Couldn’t agree more, Ashley! I actually have a great alternative that might be helpful, I’ll be posting about it soon!