Most people assume all you need is a passport, airline ticket, and your clothes to travel out of the country, WRONG! We are not in the 20th century anymore ladies and gents, so get your head out of the clouds and into reality. I’m going to tell you the most commonly made international traveling mistakes that are made and how to fix them! Who knows, I may save you a dollar or two.
Check before you book….
So, you have a valid passport? Great! When does it expire? Yeah, you should have checked that. Some countries don’t care when your passport expires, and some countries enforce the six month rule. What is the six month rule you ask? Your expiration date is on the inside front cover next to that hot photo you took, neat huh? After that date, the passport is no longer a valid travel document. Which is common sense, right? But, some countries, however, REFUSE TO ALLOW ENTRY to anyone holding passport that expires in less than three or six months of the visit to the country. If you are planning an oversea trip, you are responsible for knowing the rules for entering the countries you are wanting to visit. However, airlines and cruise ships are getting better at checking the documents so you don’t get yourself in a bind.
Get cash, fast…
Only an amateur would exchange currency at an airport. Don’t be that naive, exchange your cash at a better place, I don’t know, lets say a bank perhaps! Finding a bank in the country you’re visiting and changing your dollars into cold hard foreign cash is the cheapest way to go. Or, you can also place an order at your credit union or bank for foreign currency before you start drawing out your daily funds.
What did you pack?
Depending on where you go in the world, you never want to overpack. If you’re going to a tropical paradise, keep in mind, you’ll be in a bathing suit and coverup for most of the day. Depending if you generously apply your SPF, you may even be to burnt to even care about your makeup or what you wear for dinner that night. So, try to keep it simple and light. If you’re going to fashion forward country, plan your outfits accordingly. Pack basics you can re-wear with any outfit, and try and limit the excessive amounts of “what-if” clothes. NO ONE EVER WANTS TO HEAR THEIR BAG IS OVERWEIGHT!
I have said it before in my previous article, and I’ll say it again and again until you dream it: No matter how perfectly well planned you are, things alway go wrong in a perfect world! Loss and theft are the two most common mishaps that happen while traveling. It will ruin your “picture perfect” vacation in a heartbeat. PHOTOCOPY THE CRAP OUT OF YOUR DOCUMENTS, write down numbers and backup numbers to people you would need to be in contact with, know where the nearest embassy is, & BE PREPARED! Scan it to yourself and email it, and also leave it with whoever you trust back home. Better safe than sorry. I know you probably have joked about living in another country, but with no money, no way home or contacts, it’s not all that it is cracked out to be. And, if anything EVER HAPPENS just learn to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, and call that person, they’ll be your savior.
Here we go…
Do not, and I repeat DO NOT, be the one to over plan and over think every little detail to your trip. You’ll ruin it for you, and the people who are ALSO THERE to enjoy it as well. It is unrealistic to visit everywhere in one go. If it could be done, great, but it isn’t happening in this lifetime. Maybe a couple of trips back and you can see all there is to see. Chances are, you’ll enjoy living in the moment by actually enjoying whatever activity you have chosen, and possibly make time for new ones.
I knew I forgot something…
Don’t take your phone off airplane mode just yet. Using your phone abroad has a hefty price tag, like seriously hefty! Check with your carrier about if coverage is available in your destination or you can get that, “Somewhat expensive but not as expensive as those data roaming charges” International Plan. If you think they rip you off with the International Plan, just wait until you see your bill without it.
Declined, but… I got paid Friday!
After bragging about your trip on social media & family and friends, you may want to let your bank in on the secret as well. Because your social media following, family and friends can’t ruin your trip as fast as a declined card can. Just a little bit of common sense that all should know but few actually act on. I hope you checked your cell phone plan fees.
…but, Yelp rated it a 3.1!
Try telling that to someone who cares. You can NEVER rely on a “thinks it knows everything” app. Rely on the people who frequent there everyday, the people who are walking beside you as you shop in the local village or market, your taxi driver, you know… THE LOCALS! They are the “know everything” app for their country and definitely their city. Listen to them! The best places I have ever laid eyes on, spent an hour in a golf cart looking for a local hotspot beach spot, and a random strip mall sushi joint (that the President of the country ate at, btw) have been all told to me by locals. Funny thing is, if you look them up on anything, their ratings aren’t all that hot. But, if you ACTUALLY visit them instead of relying on another persons (probably bad day & took it out on them) review, you would be amazed.
I’m begging you, like really begging you, don’t be that tourist who just visits the country and not even know a thing about it. Go to your local bookstore, pick up a language book & Google the country you’re planning to visit. Just learn about it. By learning a couple of phrases, your whole trip will be a bit more enjoyable. Or, even wearing proper attire visiting certain religious sites, please just be respectful of their country and religion. You never know what may offend different cultures. It can be really dangerous visiting another country and not knowing what their culture entails. Bottom line, do your homework!