Traveling outside of your home country can be such an exciting yet scary event. You’re so ready to immerse yourself in a new culture and see new parts of the world, but you have no idea how to prepare. Here are seven tips I learned from my own travels abroad to help ease your worries.
Allow 4-6 weeks to receive your passport
Obtaining a passport is one of the first things we think of when traveling abroad, but many people overlook how long the process takes. When seeking a passport, you should apply at least two-three months before your trip. The process usually takes anywhere from 4-6 weeks, but can take even longer if problems arise. Applying early will be one less thing you have to worry about!
Be aware of any changes in currency
It’s important to know what type of currency your travel destination runs on because that’s how you will be paying for food, transportation, and lodging. A quick Google search should inform you of currency differences and values. Once you know what type of currency is needed, you can properly map out how much money you’ll need and make any conversions. Typically, the airport, bank, or travel agency will make any exchanges you need.
Study up on the culture
You may think, “Isn’t that the point of me traveling?” But, the last thing you want is to be a guest in another country and offend the culture. It’s not necessary to do a full research study on the culture, but at least become a little familiar before arriving. You’d be surprised at how many different gestures, words, and forms of body language is considered offensive in different countries!
Pack your essentials in your carry-on
When traveling, especially abroad, it’s not uncommon for your luggage to get lost or delayed in arrival. And let’s face it, being in another country without any personal items would be a nightmare! In your carry-on, try to pack at least two days of undergarments, deodorant, toothbrush, wallet, and any medication. A simple back up plan could save you from a potential rain on your travel parade.
Notify your bank of travel dates
This was one tip that would have never crossed my mind if it didn’t happen to me! What I mean by that is, I was charged a boatload of international transaction fees. Just like anywhere else, debit and credit cards are becoming more and more popular around the world. It’s much easier to swipe your card than to convert money, but swiping a card typically comes with extra fees for each transaction. Not fun. Also, if you’re bank isn’t aware that you are out of the country, they are likely to detect fraud and put a lock on your account. Also, not fun.
Ask your doctor about shots
Typically, if you’re traveling abroad, it’s safe to ask your doctor if any shots or vaccinations are necessary. Touristy destinations such as an all-inclusive, Mexico, or Europe typically don’t require any shots. But, if you’re traveling to a remote location, third-world country, or will be spending the majority of your trip outdoors, it’s recommended you get a few shots. Common shots are for Malaria and immunization from air/water-born illnesses. Your doctor will be aware of what shots are needed in your travel location and provide you with such.
Be careful of water consumption
I know you’ve probably heard, “Don’t drink the water!” when traveling abroad; but, it’s true. Many countries do not have the same filter system as your home country. Just because the locals consume it, don’t assume you can. The water may be safe, but your body will not be able to tolerate the different treatments and forms of bacteria in the water. Also, be cautious of products that contain water such as mixed drinks, soup, or ice cubes. Consuming these is equivalent to drinking the water, and can leave you miserably ill. Trust me, I learned the hard way.
Guest Author: Kara Straight
Hi! My name is Kara Straight. I’m a writer for a few different publications, and have my own lifestyle blog as well! My best friend and I love to travel, so we make sure to travel somewhere new at least every other month. My first time traveling out of the country was when I studied abroad in Costa Rica during one of my college semesters. And from then on, the rest was history! Check out her blog at Straight Livin’ With Kara.