You’ve worked hard all year and now you are ready to spend your hard-earned money on the vacation of your dreams. You look at your bucket list and realize it’s time to take that trip to Europe you’ve always dreamed of and there’s no time like the present! However, before you embark on a new journey, do you know everything you need to know prior to traveling? Without further ado, let’s dive in and help you create an unforgettable experience and show you what to know when traveling abroad.
Here are some tips for traveling abroad for the first time – all about what to bring with you and what to watch out for as you plan for your trip to Europe, South America or anywhere else you decide to go.
1) Will Your Credit Card Work Overseas?
Contact your credit card company to let them know you will be traveling abroad. The last thing you need is to be in a foreign country learning “Bounjour” without access to your credit cards, because your bank has inappropriately placed your account on fraud alert.
For example, most European countries only accept PIN credit cards, so leave your magnetic cards at home and ask your bank to issue you a pin chip credit card instead. Make sure to bring a mix of credit cards and cash for this exact reason. You’ll also need cash for smaller purchases and for those delicious croissants that are sold at small corner bakeries, which don’t accept credit cards.
2) Passport and Visas
Check your passport to make sure it’s up-to-date, especially if you haven’t traveled in a long time. Many European countries require that your passport has an expiration date of at least three to six months before being allowed entry. The same goes for some South American countries, though Mexico does not have this restriction. Regardless of where you decide to travel to, check and make sure your passport, visas and other documents are all up-to-date.
Not all countries have mandatory vaccination tests, but it’s always a good idea to check the news for any possible outbreaks. Also, be aware of any seasonal flu that may be affecting the country you are traveling to, because health comes first!
4) Staying Safe
A foreign country, a city you’re unfamiliar with and possibly a language that you may not speak can all bring up potential harm. Although we want you to have an amazing time on your trip – because let’s face it, you deserve it – we can’t help but mention some of the safety precautions that are in your best interest. For example, hide your cash, visas, passports and other documents/valuables in travel wallets. Make copies of your passports and other ID’s in case you misplace them. Also, check travel advisories via travel.state.gov for the country/city you are traveling to; this will ensure a much safer trip and limit any unexpected surprises. Lastly, be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables close as you explore.
5) All Electronics Are Not Created Equal
Make sure to bring a voltage converter and a power plug adapter for your electronic devices. It would really be a waste to bring your favorite electronics with you only to find out that you can’t use them once you arrive. This needs to be on top of your list when thinking about what to pack for your trip. A trip planner will be useful if you know you are the forgetful type. Many people need to see things written down to hold them accountable. This also brings us to our next tip.
6) Traveling Checklist
A checklist may sound too organized, but creating a traveling checklist can really help you remember what you need to bring with you on your trip. It’s easy to get overwhelmed on the day of your trip, so start thinking ahead so you don’t leave anything behind. A trip planner will help you plan and stay on top of everything you need to have with you when traveling.
7) Lights, Camera, Action
Make sure you bring a camera to capture all of your unforgettable moments. Most smartphones have amazing cameras and that may be all you need for this trip. As previously mentioned, make sure your camera can withstand the voltage intensity in the countries you are traveling to and make sure to grab the appropriate adapters.
This is probably a no-brainer, but worth mentioning. Bringing your cellphone should also be a priority when planning for a trip. Make sure you call your phone company to activate your phone, so you can make and receive calls when you are overseas. You will probably incur roaming charges, but it beats being stranded in a foreign country without a cellphone in case of an emergency. There are also third party mobile applications that can help you stay in touch with loved ones and navigate in a foreign new land, such as WhatsApp and Viber.
Finally, the most important thing to keep in mind as you embark on your trip is…drumroll please…
9) Positive Attitude
Yes, yes! A positive attitude will allow you to create a happy experience as you prepare for your travels. Get excited about the fact that you’re visiting a place you’ve never been to and truly embrace that! The world is a beautiful place, so get excited about exploring all it has to offer. Although we just went over the necessities of the trip, remember to relax and not overthink as well. Enjoy the process.
As with any grand endeavor, be prepared to have some fun and live your best life yet.
P.S. We’ll be waiting for a postcard of you sipping on a Mojito.