Traveling to a new country can be both energizing and eye-opening, as it affords you the opportunity to experience a different way of life. But a different way of life can also bring about a great deal of confusion. That is why it is important to prepare yourself before traveling anywhere for the first time. Here are some great tips to help you make your next international trip stress-free.
1) Hotel Business Card
When you arrive at your hotel, grab a business card from the front desk. If you ever get lost, you will have the name and address of the hotel in the local language. Even though large populations of the world speak English to some extent, it is helpful to have something in the local language to have locals guide you home.
2) Six-Month Passport Rule
While the United States lets you use your passport up to the date inside the cover, there are several countries that deny travelers entry if the passport expires in less than six months. If some unexpected thing comes up and you get stuck overseas longer than planned, those countries want to ensure that you have a valid passport to eventually travel back to the United States. A great way to avoid this issue is to renew your passport about nine months prior to expiration.
3) Getting Cash
Many U.S. banks charge steep fees for suing an ATM that is outside of its network. However, Charles Schwab and Fidelity both offer checking accounts that have no minimum balance requirements and reimburse you for all ATM fees, including those from overseas. Putting money in one of these accounts is a great way to avoid carrying around a large amount of cash around on your trip.
4) Credit Cards
First, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and Platinum American Express are two cards that do not levy a foreign transaction fee (which can be as high as 3 percent). Second, never have a hotel or restaurant convert a charge into dollars first, it is a bad deal. Third, notify your credit card company’s fraud department of what countries you will be visiting and on what days. Fourth, be aware that in Europe (at places like train ticket machines, gas stations or other machines) you will be unable to use a credit card’s that do not have an embedded chip.
You should always bring some basic necessities when traveling abroad. This includes things like Advil, NyQuil, Imodium A-D, Tums, and other things you may frequently use. While there are drugstores in most countries, it is better to have what you need when you need it. It certainly beats having to track down medicine in areas that are difficult to navigate.
6) Travel Alerts
It is a always a good idea to check the State Department’s travel warnings and alert page. You should also print out the address and contact information of the local embassy before you embark on your trip.
7) Unwanted Local Currency
When you checkout from the hotel, ask to have any of your unwanted local currency used towards your bill. Then pay the rest of the balance with your (no-foreign-transaction-fee) credit card!
8) Register With Your Embassy
If there happens to be a problem in the country you are visiting, registering with your travel plans with your embassy will make it easier for your government to contact you and get you to safety.
9) Data Roaming
Make sure your cell phone is setup to avoid international data roaming. The biggest costs can come from transmitting data overseas. If you do not think you need data overseas, you will want to shut off data roaming on your phone to avoid any potential charges.
10) Google Maps
Even if you do not have a data plan for your phone while traveling abroad, there are ways to work around it. While you are in the hotel using the available WiFi, plan out a few routes that you plan to walk throughout the day. Map the routes out on your phone and then screenshot the maps. While you are navigating the city you can find the photo, zoom in, and follow the path. Of course it is not as good as the real map but it is a great way to work around the problem.