My family is getting ready to make our second international trip. Our first trip was on a whim and we took very little time to prepare. There were a few things we did right and a few things we decided to do differently this time.
- Passports Make sure your passports are current. Some countries want your passport to be good for at least 6 months after your initial arrival. If your passport is up for renewal soon be sure you check how long it will take to get it renewed. I have read that 2017 is a year with a lot of passport renewals so give yourself plenty of time to get it back before your epic adventure. I have seen several recommendations for Mobile Passport app. It is an app you use in place of filling out the blue and white declaration form upon re-entry into the US. I have also heard the line for Mobile Passport is significantly shorter and faster. I will be trying it and updating you when I do.
- Travel Adapter We have an adapter that will work for us wherever we decide to go. They are inexpensive and small, so depending on how many chargers you will need you may decide to purchase more than one.
- External Battery Pack We have had our Jackery for awhile and my husband uses it almost daily with his job. It was essential! We charged it when we left home. We began charging devices on it when we were in the airport before even departing on our journey. On the plane we were fortunate to have outlets on our seats so we were able to charge it on the plane. The Jackery and our devices were fully charged when we arrived and began our journey. We carried it everywhere we went when we were in Paris and never had to worry about our phones running low on battery.
- Check with your Embassy/Consulate. Where is it located in your vacation country? Are there any travel restrictions listed on their website. In the US we can fill out the STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program), it is a great way to be notified in case anything happens while you are in country.
- Contact your debit and credit cards. With some banks you can “flag” your account online to let them know you are travelling. (I recommend this whether you are traveling domestic or international.) Banks will put a hold on your account if they see charges taking place that are out of the norm for you. Letting them know ahead of time should keep them from being shut down and allow you to continue to access your money. Also note, not all places you may visit accept Discover card. Be sure you have more than one method of payment with you.
- Vaccines and Visas Are there are special vaccines required for the country you are visiting? Or do you require a Visa before you depart?
- Check common customs and courtesies. In some countries you shouldn’t wave with an open palm. In some you DON’T tip. Just know about the area you are traveling to. As you may have already read, knowing a little more about Paris could have saved me some “toilet embarrassment”.
- Decide if you will be using your cell phone plan while you are abroad. You may be able to get a good deal with your cell phone provider so that you can use your phone just as you would in your home country. Our cost for Paris was minimal, but for future trips we plan to only use one phone to cut that down some. We will use my husband’s phone, and I will keep mine in airplane mode. If I should need to use it I only need to take it off airplane mode and accept the charges. Our phone company makes it very easy…. maybe a little too easy.
- Take photos of your passports and IDs and upload them into the cloud or email them to yourself in case you lose the originals.
I hope you have a great time on your trip. Please share any tips or questions you may have for others traveling internationally.
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