Top 10 Tips to Make International Travel Easier

These are our best tips we want to share. You don’t have to learn them the hard way! Regardless of what type of trip you’re on, there are several steps you can take to ease an overseas journey. Here are the top international travel tips:

What are the most common international travel tips?

Hotel business cards

The first thing to do when you are arriving at a hotel overseas is to take a business card from the front desk. It will almost always have the address of the hotel written in both English and the local language. Large populations around the world speak English, but having something in a local language especially one where English isn’t the primary language, is always a good idea. This can add an extra bit of insurance, which will come in handy should you lose your way or need directions.

The six-month passport rule

As a general rule, passports should have at least six months of validity when traveling internationally. The U.S. lets you use your passport up to the date inside the cover. However, most countries will not permit a traveler to enter their country unless the passport is set to expire at least six months after the final day of travel. Reason? If for some unexpected reason you get stuck overseas longer than planned, that country wants to ensure that you have a valid passport to eventually travel back to the United States. To avoid any problems, always renew your passport during a downtime in travel, about nine months prior to the expiration date.

Bring cash

Another great tip is before you leave for your next trip abroad, take a moment to think dollars and cents — or should we say pounds and pesos? Get the most for your money overseas by doing a little homework first.

The most important step is to know your options. In decades past traveler’s checks were the most popular way to carry money overseas — but today’s travelers are much more likely to rely on credit cards and ATM withdrawals, which usually offer better exchange rates and lower fees.”

You can get cash usually from an ATM, but many U.S. banks charge steep fees for using an ATM that is out of network. You can take out a large amount of cash at the airport ATM so you pay that fee only once, but it’s never advisable to carry large sums of cash. Plus, you risk having too much local currency left over at the end of your trip.

Credit cards tips

Best for: Large purchases such as airline tickets, hotel bills, car rentals and restaurant meals.

One problem for U.S. travelers is the growing prevalence of “chip-and-PIN” credit cards in Europe, Asia and South America. Designed to reduce fraud, these cards rely on an embedded chip that transmits information to a merchant, which the consumer then verifies by entering a PIN. While U.S. cards with magnetic stripes will still work as long as there’s someone to swipe them, many travelers report problems using their cards in ticket vending kiosks, at gas stations or in other places featuring automated payment machines. If you find yourself in this dilemma, your only alternatives are to find an attendant to scan your card or to use cash instead.

These cards are slowly becoming more available to U.S. travelers. Check out CardHub.com for a list.

However, many credit cards will tack on a foreign transaction fee, sometimes as high as 3 percent. It’s a pointless fee that no traveler should ever pay. Also, it’s a bad deal to have a hotel or restaurant convert a charge into dollars first.

Fraud alerts tip. Make sure you notify your credit card company’s fraud department of what countries you will be visiting and on what dates. This way, they won’t think your card is stolen and shut it off just when you need it the most. Be mindful of any countries you might be changing planes in; you might need to make a charge during your layover, especially if there’s a delay.

Tips to Make Travel Easier

Medicine

It’s a good idea to always carry an eye mask and earplugs because you never know what your hotel room is going to be like. Care with you a medicine bag with Advil, NyQuil, Imodium A-D, Tums, and a handful of other key medications. Many places have a drugstore, but do you want to be running around a foreign country late at night, trying to translate “diarrhea”? If you’re going to third-world countries, taking with you the right drugs is even more important. You could fill a prescription in advance for the antibiotic ciprofloxacin and bring it with them just in case.

Travel alerts

 As a part of your planning any trip abroad, it’s a good idea to check the State Department’s travel warnings and alerts. It’s also smart to print out the address and contact information of the local embassy.

Data roaming

When budgeting, phones are the last things people think about. International data roaming fees are unknown to the user until the vacation is over and the balance due is usually double, triple, or sometimes even more. The reason you pay these charges is that you are no longer operating under your domestic carrier, you are using data and networks from another carrier in the foreign country.
The simple way to avoid fees altogether is if you turn off your data roaming during travel. However, it is not recommended. Generally, if you are on Wi-Fi, you are safe. You can use popular apps like Viber or WhatsApp for communication.

Maps

There are many maps apps you can download to help you navigate your route in a foreign country, but most of them use data roaming. If you don’t have your data roaming enabled or if you don’t want to use then you can either find wifi and take some screenshots from the directions. It is not ideal but it could safe you from using your roaming data. Thankfully there are apps that can work offline. You can download the maps of the locations when you are connected to wifi and then you can use the app without the need of a data roaming.

Unwanted local currency tips

You can figure out on your last night how much cash you will need and then set aside the leftover money. You can use them at checkout the next morning, at a restaurant or at the airport, fill up your rental car with gas. Find out more tips about what you can do with foreign cash.

Don’t spend money just because you have it, foreign currency is real money it isn’t free and doesn’t make your purchases free.

Book Cheap Flights

Last but not least is to try to find cheap flights when you are booking your trip. There are many travel websites for booking flights and accommodation – Skyscanner, KAYAK, Momondo. They offer price comparison and you can maximize searches by having flexible flying dates. If you search a few days before and after your prefered flying dates, you may save hundreds of dollars.

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