6 Tips for International Travel

International travel is widely accessible to people in the modern times. With flights becoming cheaper and airlines offering deals more people are able to travel the globe. During my travel I have come up with a few tips that I would give to other travelers during their first international trip. Although some may be personal preference, others are definite rules of thumb. 

 Flying to Texas  

Flying to Texas  

1. Arrive 2 hours early to the airport. Due to security checkpoints at airports there may be long lines at both airline check ins as well as the airport security line. In order to ensure that you make your flight on time, many airlines recommend that you arrive two hours early to the airport in case of any delays. Depending on your area, you may want to consider adding a little more time, especially if you live in an area that has a lot of traffic that could delay you even further. 

2. Avoid sleeping on flights. This may be a personal preference, but I have found that not sleeping on the flights allows me to ensure that I am able to adjust to the local time of where I will be traveling very easy. This has enabled me to avoid jet lag on all my trips. Although it is a bit of a struggle on the plane, it is something that I have not regretted and it allows me to make the most of the time in the country I am visiting. Clearly this is not meant for flights more than 6-8 hours as it would not be healthy to do to your body, but for longer flights I would suggest at least being awake the last one to two hours of the flight and then not sleeping until it would be normal to do so at the location you are traveling too, once you arrive. 

3. Pack smart. Packing smart means avoiding checked baggage if possible. Depending on weather conditions and the length of your travel it is possible to have only two carry on bags, and enough clothes for your trip, plus extra if you prefer. Although this does limit the amount of personal items such as shampoo, shaving cream, or razors that you can bring with you. This will help you avoid any bag fees (although most international flights offer the first checked bag free), as well as prevent there from being any lost luggage. No one wants to start their vacation off trying to track down a lost bag. 

4. Use Wi-Fi for your phone. With smartphones being as amazing as they are, there is no reason to spend money on an international calling plan, or anything of that matter, to enable you to call home from the country you are visiting. Although different parts of the world may have differences in how much Wi-Fi is available to you while roaming around, most hotels do offer free Wi-Fi. Along with the apps you can download, iPhones offer iMessage, FaceTime, and email to help you communicate with the people at home. During a trip to Costa Rica, I found that almost all restaurants, bars, and hotels offered free Wi-Fi to the public, while in Paris we only had Wi-Fi in our hotel (although we were not searching for it much at the time), and are finding that most restaurants in Paris do offer free Wi-Fi. 

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5. Leave copies behind, and take some with you. It is a smart idea to always carry a copy of your passport on you while traveling abroad, and to keep a copy with someone at home that has your itinerary. If you ever lose your passport abroad you are going to want to have a copy to ensure that you had identification. It's also better to carry the copy on you, or in your pack, during the day than it is to carry your real passport, which is better locked up at wherever you may be staying.

6. Make sure to get up and walk around on the plane. Unless you are asleep, it is a good idea for your own safety to get up and walk around a bit on the plane. Sitting for long periods of time can allow blood clots in your legs to form. Simply ensuring that you get up and walk around a little during flights can help prevent this from happening. 

 Jaco, Costa Rica

Jaco, Costa Rica

As a traveler, these are tips that have been given to me, or that I have come up with personally for traveling abroad. I encourage everyone to get out and travel the world we live in. Lay back and relax on a tropical beach, or explore the beautiful cities of Europe to learn about the history that helped to build the world we live in. 

6 Unusual but Useful Travel Essentials

1. Melatonin. Long flights and jet lag can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule, but with a little help from my good friend, melatonin, this problem can be avoided! Make sure to get plenty of sleep on the plane, so you can land refreshed and ready for adventure! And melatonin does the trick, if you have trouble sleeping.

 

2. Surge protector. This sounds very strange, but nothing is worse than getting to the hotel after a long day of traveling and realizing there isn’t enough outlets for all of your electronics. A simple surge protector can double the number of outlets needed for phone charges, kindles, etc. Surge protectors are also extremely useful in airports, when everyone is struggling to find an outlet. They also don’t take up much room in your luggage, which is always a good thing! I learned this tip from my aunt and now I don’t travel without one! 

 

3. Plastic baggies. These are life savers when it comes to small things like bobby pins, hair ties, memory cards, and jewelry. But they are universal! I use them for multiple things, especially for keeping small souvenirs that I collect along the way (tickets, coins, etc.) Keeping all of your small keepsakes in one, small baggie will save you time and effort. You’ll thank yourself in the end, when it’s all conveniently located. 

 

4. Pens. For every international flight, there will be immigration paperwork to fill out on the plane. You don’t want to be “that person” on the plane, asking everyone around you to borrow a pen. Another reason to have one or two pens handy during travel, is because you never know if you’ll meet an awesome person and want to exchange information with them to keep in touch. And finally, because I have run into many “memory walls” or “sign your name” type of things when traveling abroad, I’ve learned to always keep a pen in my purse! 

 

5. Info sheet. It is ALWAYS a good idea to keep an extra paper with important information (itinerary, flight numbers/times, name/address of your hotel, etc.) in your handbag, just in case you get lost in a foreign city and have to find your way back. I usually type up one page of everything I need to know and make sure to put it somewhere I’ll remember. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’s always better safe than sorry, right?  

 

6. Light jacket. This may sound ridiculous or maybe obvious to some of you, but this is one of my necessities! No matter where you’re going or how many times you check the forecast, Mother Nature is unpredictable! It can be windy or rainy out of nowhere. And if you’re like me and get cold very easily, I would suggest bringing one. Especially during long flights and train/bus rides, these are usually the coldest. Having a small, lightweight jacket with you can save your shivering body. And even if you don’t feel the need to wear it, they can turn into great pillows (don’t forget, sleep is important!) No one wants to be uncomfortable or tired on vacation!