A big trip can be a stressful yet exciting time, but when it’s your first time traveling, especially internationally, that excitement and stress can multiply exponentially. While “unknowns” are generally the biggest cause of a lot of the anxiety, just trying to plan out even a portion of the details can be a little overwhelming for some.
We know that for many first-time international travelers, even something as basic as figuring out what to pack for a business trip to Canada can be nerve-racking—not to mention when traveling abroad. And of course, for that trip, there’s a lot more than packing to consider.
This is exactly why we wanted to share a few tips with you.
1. A Few Things to Find Out
When heading out of the country, even if it’s your umpteenth time, there are a few things you should check in advance, such as:
- Do you need a passport to go to Bahamas or the Virgin Islands?
- What are the passport rules for your destination?
- Do you need to take your child’s birth certificate?
- What is the current exchange rate for the local currency?
- Does your credit card provider charge foreign transaction fees?
- What are the international rates for your cell provider?
- What will your bank charge for ATM withdrawals?
Those are just a few of the basic questions that you need to be answered long before takeoff.
2. Make Copies of Your Important Documents
As a basic precaution, in order to keep your valuables safe throughout your trip, you should print at least three copies of your passport photo page and other important documents. Keep a copy of each in multiple places. Keep one tucked away in your luggage or in the hotel safe, and another with a trusted friend or family member at home. That way, if your documents are lost or stolen, you have backups.
You also want to keep credit cards, identification, travel documents, and a little extra money hidden on your person. If you’re not able to wear a money belt to secure your items, try an over-the-neck pouch that hides away under your clothes, or purchase a theft and tear-proof bag.
And of course, you need to make sure everything is safely secured in your hotel room.
3. Exchanging Your Money
Whether you’re having a family vacation in Venice or a road trip around Europe, you should familiarize yourself with the exchange rate and wait until you arrive before changing out your money in order to avoid possible fees.
This is especially true if you’re heading to a non-touristy place. Wait and use the airport kiosk to get what you need. After all, you can always get more later.
Additionally, verify that all transactions are completed in local currency as opposed to U.S. dollars before you purchase anything with a credit card.
Unfortunately, some unscrupulous retailers abroad, and even some credit card companies, will actually charge you more in U.S. currency when given the opportunity.
As one more great tip, set up travel alerts on your credit and debit cards. Call your bank or card provider and let them know where you’re going and when. The last thing you want is for your cards to get locked down while on your trip.
Taking a first-time international trip should be fun and perhaps even exhilarating. Although no one can guarantee you a stress-free trip, we certainly hope the above tips help, even if just a little.
While we may have only shared three tips today, they can be extremely valuable when traveling abroad.