Taking a vacation overseas is an extraordinary experience to be enjoyed, but you have a long to-do list before you even get on a flight.
Visiting a new country comes with many challenges and can quickly become stressful if you don’t know what to look out for.
If you want to plan an unforgettable vacation, then you’ll need to take care of several tasks to make sure your vacation goes smoothly. Many of these aren’t things that apply to a domestic vacation, like understanding local customs and laws.
There’s a lot to navigate, so we’ve included seven critical tips below for ensuring that your international vacation is a blast!
One of the most important things you’ll need to do includes updating your passport.
The last thing you’ll want is to realize that your passport has expired just a few days before your trip! If this happens, then you won’t be able to get on your flight and your tickets will be wasted.
Making matters trickier, some countries will require that your passport is still valid for another six months after your date of return.
This means that you should update your passport well in advance or at least make sure it’s valid for roughly another year just to be safe. Make sure to also check if you’ll need a visa for your travel needs.
Read Travel Warnings
Another useful tip is to read up on any recent travel notices regarding the country you’re visiting.
While your home country might be safe, that doesn’t mean that your destination is. Whether there are long-standing or recent events making travel difficult, you’ll want to be aware of them.
This is necessary to ensure your safety and make sure getting in and out of the country is a breeze.
Between political protests and terrorist attacks, many international dangers are posed to tourists. You certainly don’t want to get caught in the middle of an international conflict when you’re trying to enjoy a vacation!
Make sure that you also look into the customs of the country you want to visit.
Customs are rules regarding what you can bring both in and out of a country. These are extremely important to abide by because you might have some of your possessions confiscated if you aren’t prepared!
You’ll need to look into what items are banned from entry and make sure that you aren’t bringing any of that along with you. Additionally, you will need to declare what belongings you are taking with you.
When you come back to your home country, once again you’ll need to declare what you’re bringing home with you. This means you’ll need to deal with the customs of both your home and vacation country.
Learn Local Laws
You should also do some research to learn about the local laws of your destination.
You’re likely a law-abiding citizen of your home country, but doing what you’re accustomed to might get you in trouble abroad.
For example, there are some areas and buildings in foreign countries that you can’t take photos of. More conservative countries outlaw public displays of affection.
Wherever you’re visiting is likely to be quite different from the culture you’re familiar with. You don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb and unintentionally disrespect another country’s culture!
Not only will this make your stay more enjoyable, but it will avoid any costly fines and staring from locals.
Bring Proper Currency
Another task to complete is making sure that you have a good plan for payment in a foreign country.
Some countries will allow you to use your credit and debit cards that are valid at home, but others will require physical currency. Even in countries that do accept cards, some shops and services don’t.
Making matters worse, some card companies will hit you with a fee for foreign transactions.
This is why it is a good idea to stock up on some local currency before you go. At the very least, you should know the conversion rate between your currency at home and the money used in the country you’re visiting.
Whatever you do, make sure that you don’t try to exchange currency at the airport or conversion centers abroad. These tend to charge an expensive transaction fee that makes your exchange unnecessarily costly.
Stick to banks and ATMs to minimize fees paid for acquiring foreign currency. Find out where these locations are before you travel so you know where to go in advance.
Plan for Phone Coverage
One thing that many first-time international travelers overlook is coming up with a good plan for cell phone coverage.
If you have a major carrier, then there’s a good chance that your phone has service globally. You’ll need to specifically activate this, otherwise, you’ll be charged with extremely expensive roaming fees.
If a data roaming plan isn’t an option for you due to your carrier not providing it or it being too expensive, you can also purchase a prepaid sim card that is valid for the country you’re visiting.
As a last resort, you can also purchase an inexpensive prepaid phone just so you have phone access in case of emergencies.
Buy a Charger Adapter
One final mistake you won’t want to make is failing to find a charger adapter.
The country you live in has electrical devices that plugin with a specific prong setting, including your phone and laptop charger.
However, this prong alignment may not be the same in the country that you’re visiting. You can remember to pack your chargers all you want, but it won’t do you any good without an adapter!
Fortunately, travel adapters are typically inexpensive. They allow you to plug directly into them, with the correct prong setting for your vacation country plugging into an outlet.
You can’t change the prong alignment of your chargers, but an adapter will eliminate that need!
Going on an international vacation for the first time is extremely exciting! You’ll get to experience a new culture and visit a country you’ve never seen before.
With this unfamiliarity comes the possibility of making mistakes that can quickly ruin your trip.
We mentioned seven important tasks above that you should take care of before getting on your flight.
This includes updating your passport, reading any travel warnings, looking up customs, learning local laws, stocking up on foreign currency, creating a plan for phone coverage, and purchasing a travel adapter.
Failing to take care of some of these tasks can make a vacation disastrous, while others serve as minor inconveniences. With careful planning, you can ensure that you have a wonderful time vacationing internationally.