Being in a strange place can be invigorating and eye-opening. Some of our favorite travel memories include an early-morning run along the Danube River in Budapest, touring the temples of Angkor Wat, and having late-night drinks and steak in Uruguay.
Regardless of what type of trip you’re on, there are several steps you can take to ease an overseas journey.
Security & Health
Check-in with your doctor and insurance carrier. Double check and make sure that you have all of the proper vaccinations and that you have renewed all essential prescriptions. Also, ask you medical insurance provider if your policy applies overseas for emergencies. If it doesn’t, and you want to add extra coverage, consider supplemental insurance. Learn what you need to know before buying travel insurance.
Bring copies of your passport. If your passport gets stolen or lost you want to be sure that you can still get back into the country, or be able to prove your citizenship.
Leave a copy of your passport. For extra backup, leave a copy of your passport at home or with someone you trust. Consider making an electronic copy you can store in your email account as well.
Register with your embassy. If there’s a problem in the country, this will make it easier for your government to contact you and get you to safety.
If you’re actually working in a country and earning local currencies, the faster you can get over the habit of converting prices to your native currency, the better. Every country has its own standard, and getting used to it is a big step towards understanding the local mindset.
On the other hand, if you’re just visiting, you’ll need to be careful about how you spend money. It can be easy to lose track of your spending when the local currency is some odd number to the dollar. My advice is, come up with an easy formula for conversion, and round up so that your estimate is always fewer dollars than you think.
Make sure your credit card will work in the country you’re visiting. European banks have switched almost completely to the more secure chip-and-PIN technology, and fewer businesses abroad are accepting the outdated magnetic-strip cards.
Go to a bank or ATM in the country you’re visiting. The conversion centers in the airport or around the city tend to be huge rip-offs. You won’t get charged as many fees at the ATM or the bank, and the conversion will be exact.
Always have local cash. Not every place takes credit cards. Especially important places like trains or buses.
Bring a charger adapter. Countries have different size plugs and voltage. So if you want to use your iPod, make sure you can charge it.
Check the voltage of your electronics. From my own experience I know that nothing is worse than having an adapter and still not being able to use a blow-dryer or a straightener because the voltage isn’t high enough for that country.
Activate your phone’s global capabilities. There’s usually a charge we doing this, but it is much less than the roaming charges you’ll get if you don’t.
Luggage & packing
Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag. Don’t be one of those travelers decked out in J’adore Paris apparel because the airline lost your luggage and you have nothing else to wear. Here’s a list of our Deal Experts’ onboard essentials.
To check a bag or not to check bag. Each airline has its own set of guidelines as to how many bags can be checked or carried on for free. Make sure to look up what your airline’s rules are to avoid any incremental fees.
Bring snacks. Traveling abroad is fun, but eating in a foreign country can sometimes become a task. Bring small snacks that will tide you over until you find that perfect restaurant or food cart.
Learn 10 Phrases
3. Thank you
5. My name is…
6. Do you speak English?
7. Where is the bathroom?
8. Where is the train station?
9. How much?
10. The numbers 1 – 20
Most people will know immediately that you don’t speak their language, but that’s not the point. The point is to show that yo’re trying, and to give them a chance to laugh a little (with you, hopefully, but sometimes at you). Then they can feel comfortable about their own English (which is probably at least as good as yours, anyway).