Preparing for International Travel
Depending on where you’ve decided to go, international travel is a big deal. Believe it or not, your travel days can take a lot out of you. Here are just a few tips on the best ways to prepare for an international trip. Suppose you're not quite ready for international travel, no worries. You can use many of these tips for your next domestic trip.
Purchase Travel Insurance
Travel insurance protects you against travel risks such as lost or stolen luggage, cancellation before or during your trip for things like illness or death in the family, and trip delays due to airline, weather or other issues. Most importantly it pays for unexpected medical expenses that might arise during your trip. Most U.S.-based medical insurance, including Medicare, will not cover medical expenses outside the U.S.
Get TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry If you haven’t heard about TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry, you are in for a special treat. Think of Global Entry as a Disney FastPass for the airport. This perk will help you cut the line at security and customs. No more waiting in long lines. You’ll have extra time to walk around the terminals for your last stretch, potty break, or Starbucks fix before your flight.
Put Eyes on Your Passport. Days or even weeks before you’re scheduled to leave, locate your passport. Make sure you know exactly where it is. Don’t assume and wait until the last minute to pull it out. One of the worst feelings is discovering your passport is not where you thought it was hours before your trip. Also, most countries will not allow you to travel within six months of your passport's expiration so be sure your passport has been renewed and is not ready to expire. If you do not have a passport, apply early because it can take several months to complete the process.
Follow any Visa or Registration Process for your County of Destination
Entry requirements can change frequently. While many countries do not require US citizens to obtain visas, there are often health, customs, and other pre-clearance forms that may be required. Check the official website of the country you are visiting to see the latest requirements for entry. Check the State Department website for the latest requirements for returning to the US.
Rest is a given. In general, a good night’s sleep is a good thing. But, you should definitely try to get an ample amount of sleep the night before your flight. If you think this or sleeping on the plane might be an issue, bring some melatonin for your flight. You want to feel rested when you get to your destination, not grumpy and sluggish because of the lack of sleep.
Dress in your Comfy Clothes
You will be sitting in a tight spot for hours at a time! You won’t want to wear something tight or have a zipper/button poking into you. Be as comfy as possible. But don’t worry, it's very possible to keep it comfy and cute at the same time. Pair your comfy loungewear with some great accessories, a lovely colorful top, a 5-minute face, and prepare to travel comfortably in style.
Pack only the things that you need. I get it. Sometimes you aren’t sure what to pack due to planned activities or weather conditions, but the last thing you want is to haul an extra-large suitcase that is bulky and heavy. Not fun. Pack only what you need to make things easier. A great rule of thumb, if you’re not sure, leave it home. Also, you want to leave room to bring back souvenirs.
Arrive at the Airport Early
Most airports suggest that you be at the airport two hours before you depart, but nowadays, you may want to get there even earlier for international travel. If you have any Covid-19- related documentation to present, (i.e. tests, attestation statements, health waivers, etc.), you will not be able to use a self-service kiosk, and you’ll be in for long lines and wait times.
Bring a refillable water bottle with you that is empty BEFORE you go through airport security. You can find a fill-up station or water fountain to fill it up for FREE. You must stay hydrated because the air cabins are extremely dry, and you want to avoid getting a dehydration headache.
Devices, Devices, Devices
When it comes to devices, be sure to bring headphones to cancel out the noise for a more enjoyable flight experience, a laptop/tablet to watch some movies that you download from your favorite streaming account, and an extra charger so you’ll have plenty of juice. Check with your cellphone provider to pre-purchase international phone and data plans so you can keep in touch with your family and friends.
There’s an app for everything that you can think of, such as maps, translation help, staying in touch with your airline, and much more. Try adding your airline's app for flight updates and in-flight entertainment, the mobile Passport app for expedited customs options, and download guidebooks, maps, and activity guides. Airport Lounges: Have a long layover? Consider purchasing time in an airport lounge. Listen, those Delta, United, and American airline lounges are not exclusive to cardholders. If they have space, simply pay to enter and get your relax on!
Contact me when you are ready to take your next international adventure.