Whether you’re planning your very first overseas trip or you’re a seasoned traveler, here’s a list of tips for traveling overseas. Thanks to MyIR for sponsoring this post.
Unless you count Canada, it’s been quite some time since we’ve traveled overseas. I’m hoping to take my kids to Germany in a few years and I’m going to be re-reading these tips for traveling overseas because I know it’s going to be useful. I have the feeling that Europe with kids is going to be a lot different than my last visit.
Tips for Traveling Overseas
Check your health before traveling.
Before you go, check-in with your doctor and insurance carrier. Make sure your policy applies overseas for emergencies. If it doesn’t, consider adding supplemental travel insurance. Better safe than sorry!
Double check and make sure that you have all of the proper vaccinations on your MyIR app. MyIR contains all of your family’s official, state immunization records online, making it ideal for accessing records while you travel. Make sure you plan ahead as you may need to begin immunization injections many months in advance of your travel. For some countries, immunizations are usually optional but recommended for tourist travel, and others won’t need immunizations at all.
Make sure your prescriptions and medications are current and in the bottles are labeled accurately – no consolidating prescriptions to save space! You never know what you might need, so it’s not a bad idea to carry Advil, Imodium A-D, Claritin and Tums. YES, of course there are still pharmacies in foreign countries, but if you’re suffering, you don’t want to worry about translation. Trust me on this one. I had a wave of Migraines hit me on a trip to Paris, and the pounding head made it difficult to remember the right words to get the medicine I needed.
Get Your Documents In Order.
Bring copies of your passport – when I traveled to Europe a few years ago, I hid a copy of my passport in the lining of my luggage. If your passport gets stolen or lost you want to be sure that you can still get back into the country, or be able to prove your citizenship. It’s important that your passport has at least 6 months left before it expires because countries will not issue a visa more with more than 6 months remaining before the expiration date. Leave a copy of your passport at home JUST in case.
Be sure to register with your embassy in the countries you are visiting. If there’s a problem, this will make it easier for your government to contact you and get you to safety.
Register for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry if you haven’t already. If you qualify for these services, it will make travel lines and customs that much easier for you.
It’s not a bad idea to have emergency contact information both overseas and back home in the states.
Get your money ready before you travel.
Look up the monetary conversion before you go. Do the math BEFORE you go to get sense of where the conversion rate is at so there are no surprises. You can find currency converters online. Make sure to do some calculations and become familiar with what the foreign currency equals in your home currency.
Another important thing is to make sure your credit card will work in the country you’re visiting. Not all counties take all credit cards. Many European banks have switched almost completely to the more secure chip-and-PIN technology. . Also be sure to call your bank or credit card provider before your trip. Sometimes banks think that fraud may be occurring if transactions are suddenly happening in London, England when you are from London, Ohio.
Skip the conversion center at the airport and go to a bank or ATM in the country you’re visiting. The fees will be better and your conversion rate will be accurate.
Always carry local cash because not every place takes credit cards. This is especially important places like trains or buses. TIP: Get a metro/transportation card if you’re going to be somewhere for a while. We did this when we were in London for 3 weeks and it made thing so much easier!
Have cash at the end of your trip? When you check out of your hotel the last day, ask them apply it to your bill and then pay the remaining balance with your travel rewards credit card. Do not forget to get your statement!
Plan where you’re going, sort of.
Know where you want to visit? Buy tickets now for places you know you want to visit or see. You’ll get better deals and might even get to skip the lines! Look into any local festivals or events that might be going on during your stay. Not only will this allow you to not miss something, but it will also help you plan what areas to avoid if it’s something you’d rather skip!
Pick up guidebooks ahead of time on Amazon – you can even download them to your Kindle or tablet for access during your trip. The good guidebooks usually include maps, key words or phrases, which will be really helpful during your stay.
Staying in a hotel? When you check in, grab a hotel business card. If anything goes wrong, if you get lost – you have the address of where you are staying at your fingertips. Better yet, take a picture of it with your cell phone for easy access.
Get Your Technology Ready
Bring a charger adapter kit. Countries have different size plugs and voltage. So if you want to use your iPad, make sure you can charge it. Be sure to check the voltage of your electronics, including your hair dryer or laptop! Look into the charges for activating your phone’s global capabilities. Your roaming charges will be cheaper if you do this!
No matter where I am traveling, I always pack an extra set of clothes in my carry-on bag. Do not be one of those travelers decked out in tourist t-shirts because the airline lost your luggage and you didn’t pack smart (Side note, my sister-in-law learned how important this was because the airline lost her luggage and all of the stores were closed on Sundays in the city she was visiting – plan ahead!) Plan a capsule wardrobe. Use clothes that can mix and match and are washed easily. It doesn’t really matter if you alternate outfits every few days – no one will know!
Get to know the culture.
Study up on the language. At the very least, know enough to be polite. Know basic salutations and courtesy words. They will go a long way. Learn what American phrases and words that might be offensive in different cultures (outside of what we consider “colorful language – those go without saying) It’s also important to know that words in English means something very different in other languages.
Body language and clothing matters. Sometimes head, foot or face gestures might be offensive or misinterpreted. Research the dress and customs of where you are visiting. You may need to cover your legs or shoulders It’s very easy to carry a lightweight shawl for visiting churches or other areas.
Appropriate touch also varies where you visit. Don’t offend your host by hugging them, but alsobe ready for a kiss upon first meeting where that is expected (I got kissed many times when I visited France!). In some countries, it is inappropriate to touch someone’s children or spouse.
Get Ready to Eat!
One of my favorite things about traveling is the food. I love to eat. Some of my favorite culinary surprises were little local spots when I visited the UK and Europe. Do not miss local cuisine. It doesn’t have to be expensive either – you’ll be surprised and what you can find! Buy snacks to enjoy throughout the day and in the evenings at local stores, it’s cheaper than constantly eating out and you’ll get to try new things.
Foreign travel is an amazing thing, and if you have the opportunity to visit oversees, I highly recommend it. Traveling smart can make a world of difference and really change your experience. Be prepared, take lots of photos, and have fun!