The expectation of a trip brings many emotions. How will the food be like? Will he people be nice? How do the cities look? Traveling to a nearby city or inside the same country can be as exciting and bring learnings just like an international trip.
Nevertheless, when leaving the native country for vacations in a foreign one special considerations must be in mind. Although no one travels with the expectation of having a bad time, there are ways to improve the experience when abroad. I present some advice for international trips that can help the vacations or the visit be as pleasurable and safe as possible.
1. Consult which documents are required to enter the country.
Depending on the nationality, some countries allow entrance with the Passport or the national id. It is easy to check in the internet what requirements are needed to enter a country. It is better to review this in advance, so in case a special visa or permit is required, there is enough time to process it.
2. Review the way to get from the airport to the lodging point and other places of interest.
Some countries have the airport right in the middle of the city (for example, the City of Mexico). Others are found in the outskirts and the access is more difficult. You can look in the internet the best way to move through the points of interest. Usually, airport taxis are expensive, but there may be other means of transport like: train, subway, buses, collective or group transports, apps like Uber or Cabify. You can also ask if your lodging site includes free transport from the airport, or if they can provide it with a cost which is usually cheaper than a regular transport. It is also convenient to check the most efficient way to move inside the cities. In some countries, apps like Uber or Cabify are cheaper, in others are more expensive than a regular taxi, and in others they are not even available.
3. Take cash in local currency of the country you are visiting.
Nowadays many establishments accept payments with an international credit or debit cards. Others take cash only. Even when they could accept foreign cash as payment, in most cases the exchange rate is not favorable. Research the internet in case there are exchange agencies that accept your local currency and in case they do not, change your money to American dollars before traveling.
4. If you pay with a credit cards, always accept the payment in the currency of the country you are visiting.
Then paying with a card in another country, it is frequent that the employee asks you if you wish to pay in your own currency or the local one. Always pick the currency of the country you are visiting. When choosing your own currency, the establishment makes an estimated calculation of the exchange rate with a safe margin, so when the actual exchange occurs, they won’t have any loss. This results in an unfavorable exchange rate for the buyer. A friend and I did the test of paying sometimes with our own currency and others with the local one; it was always more expensive when we paid with the currency of our native country.
5. Take care of your passport of travel documents.
Most of us have our passport or travel document in our wallet, purse, or with us when we go out to take a walk in the foreign country. These are very important documents and must always be safe guarded. Why? Because if they are stolen or lost, you won’t be able to leave the country.
6. Research where the closest embassy or consulate of your home country is.
While on vacation, it is rare that we need to go to an embassy or consulate of our home country. Nevertheless, in case of an emergency with travel documents, or any other situations, the embassy is where they can help you resolve the issue. Searching the internet to know where the closest embassy or consulate is and save the address and phone number, will take no more than 10 minutes and can save you precious time.
7. Scan and save important documents in your e-mail.
Later I will write an article dedicated to emergencies when abroad, after I had a bad experience during a trip (my passport was stolen). Since then, I always recommend my family and friends that when traveling they should save a scanned copy in their e-mail and phone of the following documents: passport, visa, front of credit and debit cards and birth certificate.
8. Find apps for translations in case you do not speak the language of the country you are visiting.
Speaking English is a great advantage when visiting a foreign country. Generally, tourist destinations and locations have employees that speak English. This is not always the case. Surprisingly I have found airports, restaurants, museums or other locations in which the employees do not speak other language than their native one. Fortunately, there are free apps for the cellphone to make instant translations. They are very useful. Check if they can be used offline.
9. Do some research to see if there are special passes for foreigners.
Some countries have special passes that are very helpful for foreign visitors. It is important to check this before being abroad, since some passes must be purchased before entering the country. Two examples are the “Japan Rail Pass”, that allows to use trains and subways freely in certain lines throughout Japan (even between cities). The second example is the Paris Pass, a pass that includes unlimited transport in the central area of Paris, as well as entrance to certain museums and attractions. You can search the internet for the cost and what the passes include, to assess if they are worth it for what you are planning to do during the trip.
10. Search the internet and with Friends the best sites to visit.
If you have limited time, it is important to know what places you will visit. The internet has many sites with comments on almost every city and site in the world. I personally prefer to ask friends that already visited that country. If more than one person agrees that a site is worth it or not, I give a lot more importance when making the travel plans. This may also apply for trips inside the home country and it is very useful. I recommend it even more on trips abroad, since it is less likely to return.
I hope these tips are useful to your trip. There are a lot more, but I wanted to write the ones I found more useful and the ones I always share with my family and friends. Have a great trip!
Feel free to contact me for questions or additional comments in: firstname.lastname@example.org.