Four Tips for International Travel

Traveling is a wonderful way to explore and enjoy the world from a front row seat. The travel channel has nothing on the experience of actually walking across the Scottish Highlands, or exploring the pyramids in Egypt. The smells, the textures, the people, and the simple act of being there makes international travel an experience unparalleled in many ways.

With the falling cost of airline tickets, and easily attained accommodations, international travel is no longer just a bohemian pipe dream. It’s now a reality for people all over the world who have some spare money and a cell phone. Everyone in the world has somewhere that they’d like to visit. You could have family members overseas that you’ve never had the opportunity to meet, or you just want a firsthand experience with a piece of real history. This is all a possibility with a little bit of careful planning.

Photograph of a mini globe

Next year, why not do something with that vacation from work (or “sick days”). Start planning today, and get prepared to check a few things off of your personal bucket list! If you’re not sure where to start, contact a local travel agent and ask about everything from necessary vaccines to a SIM card for European travel. Here are some other helpful tips to get you started:

1. Research

A little information goes a long way when planning for an international trip. It’s important to prepare your passport and to understand if there are any visas or temporary papers that you’ll need to be in that country legally. It’s also very important to take the time to look into local laws and customs so that you can prevent any embarrassing or potentially legal misunderstandings. You really don’t want to go to England and drive on the wrong side of the road, or get stopped at the border over something simple! Know what you’re getting yourself into.

2. Planning Activities

It is very important to understand what you want to see and experience when traveling internationally. Look at the local area where you’ll be staying to see if they have tour guides or specific attractions that you can purchase tickets for ahead of time. This helps plan the trip, and it takes the stress out of wandering around in a completely unfamiliar place. If you’ve been there before, and you’re comfortable going solo, then go for it! This is also a good time to plan for accommodations. Hotels aren’t the only option. Check out some of the Hostels or even Airbnb options that might be offered. This can save a ton of money, and give you a chance to mingle with the locals. If you plan on driving, make sure that you’ll have a valid license and a vehicle. If not, plan out the public transportation routes and taxi services. This can actually add to your experience.

3. Talk to your Bank

Call your bank and credit card companies ahead of time to make sure that they know where you’ll be spending your money, and won’t freeze your accounts for suspicious spending. Also, make sure that you have a way to convert currency or to get traveler’s checks when necessary. Your bank can also help you to understand international ATM fees, and what to do when you need to change currencies.

4. Call your Cell Phone Company

International roaming fees can quickly cause an increase in your cell phone bill! It’s a good idea to call your phone company and to explore your options while traveling abroad. There are also SIM cards that can be purchased to enable essentially prepaid international services. Look at all of your options, and do what works best for you!