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45 Essential Things To Know And Do Before Traveling Abroad

Packing for an international trip can be overwhelming. You want to prepare for every possible situation but at the same time, you have to make sure that you don’t overpack. No one wants to pay for those fees! Let’s take a look at the best tips and tricks to make sure that you’re sufficiently packed and prepared to enjoy your trip.


TRAVEL DOCUMENTS


Check the Validity of Your Passport

Before traveling to any country, first check whether your Passport is valid. Most countries will state that your passport should have at least 6 months before the expiration date.


To make sure your passport is valid according to the country where you’ll be traveling, check with your travel advisor or the consular website to see all the requirements about the passport.


Check the Visa Requirements

Among the things to do before traveling abroad is to check the visa requirements. For some countries, you might need to apply for a visa and for others you might not. Sometimes the country you’re traveling to exempts visas for the passport you hold.


It might be an e-visa or a visa on arrival. If you have a travel advisor they can help you. If not, check with the nearest embassy of the country (or countries) you’re going to or check on their website for more details.


If Traveling with Children, Get a Child Travel Consent

If a child under 18 is traveling with only one parent, written permission from the other parent will be needed.


Print a Copy of Your Travel Insurance

If you don’t have travel insurance, we highly recommend that you get it, as it’s usually inexpensive and protects against medical costs, theft, flight delays, and more.


Pack All of Your Travel Documents in a Separate Bag or Folder and Always Carry Them with You

Never put your documents in your checked bag and always keep an eye on them. Also, it’s better to take pictures of them and email a copy to yourself in case they get lost.


Print Out a Copy of Your Boarding Pass

It will work as a backup if your phone battery dies.


Don’t Forget Other Documents

Train, bus, ferry, or plane tickets, hotel reservations, tickets for attractions, a piece of paper with emergency contacts, guides and maps, and local tourist cards….have them all in a safe location with easy access when needed. Again, backup copies on your phone are a good idea here.



ELECTRONICS


Don’t forget to bring your camera, smart phone, laptop, e-reader, headphones, and a tablet (if you plan on using them). In most cases you can leave the camera and tablet, as your smartphone and laptop can easily substitute both.


Never Pack Electronics in Your Checked Luggage

Use your hand luggage or carry-on for electronics, otherwise they might get stolen or damaged and airlines usually don’t reimburse valuables such as electronics.


Bring Dual-Voltage Chargers for All of Your Devices

If you’re located in America and traveling to Europe, make sure that all of your chargers are dual-voltage; the USA uses 110V electricity, but Europe uses 220V. If you don’t have an adequate charger you will ruin your device. Something like this will be written on your charger: 100V-240V.


Get a Power Adapter

In Europe alone there are three different kinds of power adapters. You should research what kinds of plugs that your destination country has and purchase accordingly. There are some universal ones as well which would be a good investment to make if you plan on traveling internationally often.


Pack Your Power Bank

A power bank is a must-have, especially for international flights. Most of your gadgets won’t last twelve or more hours while you’re watching movies and tv shows so make sure to charge your power bank fully before boarding.



TOILETRIES AND MEDICATION


Pack Liquids over 3.4oz in Your Checked Suitcase

In your carry-on you can pack liquids that are in 3.4oz bottles. All of the bottles combined have to fit in a TSA-approved transparent bag (usually around 10 small bottles). If you need something larger, you will have to check it.


You’re Safe to Pack Your Medication

TSA states that all medication is allowed both in hand luggage and checked bags. Also, if the medication is in liquid form and over 3.4 ounces (but in reasonable quantities) it’s allowed on the flight. Note that the medicine needs to be in its original packing.


Some Medications that You Might Forget

Something for allergies, motion sickness tablets, asthma medicine, painkillers, bandages, digital thermometer, diarrhea medicine, cough drops, insect repellant, antacids, and eye drops are all a good idea to have when traveling.





Some Toiletries that You Might Forget

Toothbrush, mouthwash, dental floss, deodorant, shampoo, and shower gel (if traveling to a hotel, leave them home), sunscreen, face wash, Q-tips, make up, contacts, make-up remover wipes, shaving cream, shavers, hair gel or hairspray, and perfume can sometimes get forgotten.


If You Need Prescription Medicine, Don’t Forget to Bring the Prescription with You

Some countries accept prescriptions from other countries, So bring it along just in case you run out


Pack Your Medicine in a Separate, Ready-To-Go Pouch

You never know when you’re going to need it, so it’s better to be able to find something quickly, rather than re-sorting your entire suitcase.


CLOTHES


Between Two Similar Options, Always Choose the Lightest

For instance, I never take my big, comfy, black hoodie. Instead, I take a thinner one, which is just as warm but takes up less space. The same goes for boots vs. shoes.


For Longer Trips, Bring Less and Wash Everything Halfway Through the Trip

Usually, larger hotels have the facilities to do the laundry for you, which is perfect for two to four week trips. Even if they don’t, ask around, and they’ll usually tell you where the nearest place to do laundry is. Alternatively, underwear and socks can easily be washed in the sink with regular soap. Just make sure to do them with enough time to have them to dry.





For Your Flight Days, You Can Pack a Single Outfit

For instance, if you’ve gone for seven days, pack for six days, because you’ll be wearing the same thing on your first and last day. Do you care that much how you’re looking on the plane?. Always go with comfort over fashion.


Accessories that You Might Forget

Hats, scarves, swimsuits, gloves, belts, pajamas, and jewelry – all are totally dependant on where you go, so it’s up to you to decide if you need them.


MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS THAT YOU COULD FORGET TO PACK


Always Take an Empty Bag for Dirty Clothes

If you start mixing your dirty clothes with your clean ones, pretty soon your clean clothes will start smelling. We recommend packing a special laundry bag or plastic bag. Tote bags aren’t that good because they let air through the fabric while plastic doesn’t.


If You Have a Luggage Scale Take It, If You Don’t, Get One

A luggage scale is handy for your return flights, especially if you’re visiting several countries. With it, you will easily be able to weigh your suitcase and tell if you can buy any more snacks and souvenirs for your return flight. It costs just a few dollars and takes up very little space.



PREPARING FOR A LONG INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT


Download E-Books, Movies, and TV Shows Before Your Trip

To Keep yourself entertained, make sure you download everything in advance. The time will go faster.


Pack Everything for a Comfortable Trip

Do you think sitting in a seat for ten hours will be comfortable? Well think again, because you’re likely to feel stiff and exhausted after your flight. If you have the room, pack a thin blanket, a hoodie, soft socks, a sleeping pillow, earplugs, and a face mask for comfortable sleeping.


Pack Things that Will Give You More Privacy on Your Flight

You never know who you will be sitting next to. You could be sitting next to someone who wants to talk throughout the flight or is watching movies on a bright screen. Prepare in advance by packing noise-canceling headphones or earplugs and a face mask.



BEFORE YOU START PACKING YOUR SUITCASE


Before You Start Packing, Make a List

This will help you to avoid forgetting something. This can be done days or even weeks ahead of time, and a “basics” list can usually be reused from trip to trip and modified as needed.


Lay All Your Items on the Floor or Bed

Reading a list can be one thing, but looking at all of your items in front of you will help you to see how tightly you should be packing.


Determine the Weight and Size Restrictions for Your Flight

For international flights you will usually find that carry-on limits are tighter so be sure to read up on the airline’s website and measure your luggage to be sure that it’s the approved size. You will also usually find the weight limits for checked bags can be higher on international flights, however, this varies depending on your airline carrier, so again, be sure to read on the website.





TIPS FOR PACKING YOUR SUITCASE


Pack These Items in Your Carry-On

Documents, electronics, clothes for one or two days (in case your checked luggage gets lost), chargers, toiletries, and medicine should all be with you at all times. These are things that you can’t risk getting lost by the airline, or even just stuck in the hold of a plane while you are delayed during a layover somewhere.


Start by Packing Your Documents

Put all your documents and printouts in a folder and stash them in an easily accessible place. A good choice would be your carry on, backpack, or duffel bag, depending on your choice of hand luggage.

Utilize Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are a great way to organize your items and save a little bit of space. Divide the cubes by their contents. For instance one is for electronics, another for chargers and smaller items, and one is for bulkier clothing, etc. Sealed, airtight bags can also be a great way to both save on space and keep yourself organized during the trip.


Never Pack Valuables in Your Checked Suitcase

Items in your checked luggage could get lost or stolen, and most of the time airlines don’t cover electronics, valuables, fragile items, or jewelry. If you have no other choice, purchase separate travel insurance for the contents of your checked bag.


Make Sure to Use the Straps in Your Suitcase to Tighten Contents

It’s amazing how many people do not do this, especially if they’re not using packing cubes. If you tighten them, your clothes won’t be all over the suitcase, and you will have fewer wrinkles because there will be less movement.


Weigh Your Bag to Make Sure It’s Close to the Weight Limit

Most of the time, the airline staff will let you go with a few extra pounds. However, sometimes, they will not, so to be safe you should always follow the weight limit.





AFTER YOU’VE PACKED YOUR SUITCASE


Make Your Suitcase Easily Visible

Adding some stickers, luggage straps, or other colorful elements will do two things to help you while traveling. First, your suitcase will be easily identifiable on the conveyor belt. Second, if your luggage gets lost you can better describe your suitcase to the airline staff, which will increase the chances of them finding it. If you bring two or more suitcases, it’s also a good idea to hook them together.


Use Only TSA-Approved Locks

Everything that you lock in your luggage has to be locked with TSA-approved locks. The TSA locks will allow TSA agents easy access inside. Otherwise, they’re authorized to break the lock, and you could end up with a broken suitcase.





MONEY AND CREDIT CARDS


Don’t Exchange Money in Money Exchanges

You’ll probably need to carry some cash with you. Most of the time the rate is best when withdrawing through a well-known ATM at your destination. Airports and money exchanges will always have slightly worse rates


Use Credit Cards Wisely to Avoid Extra Fees

For withdrawing money don’t use your credit card. Instead use an ATM card. Only use your credit card for paying in another currency with your card, as the exchange rate is always smaller for credit cards. Also, when paying with your credit card, you will often be asked if you want to be charged in the local currency or US dollars. Always choose the local currency as the rate will be better.


Notify Your Bank and Credit Cards that You Will Be Traveling

Your bank or credit cards can freeze your accounts if they notice strange transactions and that’s the last thing you need while you’re on a trip. Notifying them ahead of time will help you to avoid the issue because they will add a record to your account for the fraud detection system.





Consider Using Prepaid Travel Cards

If you don’t want to use your debit or credit cards, consider using a prepaid travel card instead. You can load a specific amount of money onto the card before your trip, allowing you to lock in your exchange rate. This can also help with budgeting if you decide to exclusively use the prepaid cards.


Be Alert

Watch out for pickpockets, especially if someone “accidentally” bumps into you or spills something on you. Be organized and don’t get flustered even in situations when you’re under pressure, such as hurrying to buy a ticket to catch a train. Be sure to retrieve your card from any merchant or machine. Watch out for phony ATM machines, especially in highly frequented tourist sites or transportation terminals.


Immediately Report Loss or Theft to the Issuer

Your liability is limited to $50 on most credit cards if you report a loss promptly. Many issuers are now offering zero liability cards.


ONE MORE THING


If You Plan On Driving Get An International Driving Permit

If you plan to rent a car you might need an International Driving permit. You can get an international permit from your local AAA office.


Organizing and packing for your trip will be easier and less stressful if you prepare in advance. Using tips like those listed above will ensure that you’re ready. The most important thing to take away from reading this article is how critical it is to make sure your travel documents are safe. Keeping them in a folder (in a place that you will remember and is easily accessible) is of the utmost importance.



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