Whether you're going to Europe or South Africa. Whether you'll be traveling for a week or a couple months. I've put together a list of some helpful tips for any kind of international travel. Here are 10 preparation tips for traveling abroad!
1. Get a credit card
I promise I don't work for some sleazy credit card company that's trying to persuade you into a 30% interest rate and then before you know it one year down the road you find yourself in some serious debt! Really, I'm not. If you are a responsible human being and feel that you would be OK owning a credit card then this is for you. They are wonderful for gaining travel miles. So if you don't have one already and are wanting to do some traveling, get one now. I paid for a large part of my trip with points I've racked up over the last year. Do your research and decide which one would work best for you. I have the CapitalOne Venture card which I highly recommend.
2. Research rates on discount flight sites
Hipmunk and skyscanner will take flight prices from all over the web and show you the cheapest options. Also, within Europe, I've found that Ryanair and EasyJet have the best rates. And then you can use your points you've racked up on that credit card to pay for those cheap rates. I'm here to save you money, I swear.
3. Use airbnb
Yes. Yes. Yes. Airbnb is usually so much cheaper than staying in a hotel. You can rent out an entire home or, like me, you can stay with a host who will have so much valuable knowledge about the place you're visiting because they actually live there. They can tell you about all the "secret" cool spots you may not hear about otherwise!
4. Call your bank and you cell phone provider
Let them know you'll be traveling internationally. If you don't, your bank's fraud protection program will prevent you from accessing your funds and your phone won't work abroad if you don't switch to your provider's international plan. I have AT&T and their plan is $30 extra/month. And apparently if you are one of those lucky people who has T-Mobile they charge nothing additional for international phone usage!
5. Phone apps to download
This brings me to some helpful apps to download. Viber offers free calls, texts and picture sharing with anyone in the world and texting is free with WhatsApp. Just make sure you are connected to wifi when using your phone or you will get robbed with data overage charges! This article is also a great resource for other useful travel apps.
6. Plan what you'll pack ahead
Procrastination usually leads to feelings of stress. So, for longer trips try to start planning what to pack at least one week in advance. This will not only reduce your stress level but you'll end up noticing sooner the things you may not have that you still need to go get. And look at that, you planned ahead so you actually have the time to go get those things. Also, consider the weather and what activities you'll be doing. And one last thing. Try to plan a week's worth of outfits that will mix and match so you aren't just aimlessly choosing things from your closet that you probably won't end up wearing. Those 5 inch heels are cute, but will you really wear them on the cobblestone streets of Amsterdam? Probably not.
7. Bring a weekender bag
If you'll be abroad for a long period of time pack a good sized bag to take on weekend trips. Something easy you can just throw over your shoulder. You won't want to take your normal bag on a quick weekend trip if you don't have to! I love this classic black one from H&M, this black and white striped one and this colorful floral one (which is on major sale!).
8. Don't forget an adapter
This might be obvious but your plugs and their plugs are not the same. You'll need an adapter for things like your phone and laptop charger. I got mine at Marshall's. Also, no need to bring a blow dryer, straighter or curling iron. Most are not compatible with the higher voltage outlets in Europe. Unless you have ones that function on both voltages, like this dryer by Babyliss (which I have), leave them at home and just buy the international versions when you get to your destination.
9. Remember the essentials
Make sure you have all your scripts. This includes any medications you may be taking and other prescriptions (like contacts) that you probably won't have access to get refilled while away from home. Make-up, face wash, that special razor you like to use... Bring all that with you. Chances are you won't be able to find a lot of your favorite brands while abroad. Also, make copies of your license and Passport in case you loose them.
10. Stay Calm
Seriously. Planning a trip abroad is time-consuming and requires a lot of work. When you're looking up flights listen to your favorite playlist, burn that lavender scented candle, take a break and go exercise. Whatever it is you like to do to keep yourself calm (or calm yourself down), do that. It'll make the process much more enjoyable!
Let me know if you found these tips helpful. I really hope you did. And also any tips you have that I didn't cover please share them in the comments below. I'd love to read them! Happy travels!