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International travel differs in many ways from local travel – here is a handy checklist of things that you should do while planning an international trip.
We all love to travel to new places, exotic destinations and far-off lands. Travel is one of the major industries in India today because people are opening up to exploring not only domestic locations, but also foreign cities that might have seemed like a dream to the previous generations. Good times, I say!
But, no matter how seasoned you are as a traveller, international trips can be a little overwhelming.
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I am back from two international trips – Israel and Hong Kong, and since I am not someone who jet-sets across the world every week (as much as I’d like to), I always feel the need to prepare myself for an upcoming international trip.
Here are a few tip for those who are planning an international trip, to make it smooth and stress free.
Starting from the scratch – you need to research your destination(s) of choice before you book the tickets. If you have a particular destination in mind, read up on it and find out the best time to visit, weather conditions, political scenario, and best itineraries in case you are going to plan it yourself.
If you have a few options, then do the same and finalize your destination according to your budget and time of travel. Do not fall for ‘Travel Trends‘ making rounds on social media, or Bucket List-icles that ‘everyone should do before they die’. This is your vacation, plan it according to yourself.
Once your destination is fixed, keep a tab on ticket prices and availability. Ticket prices keep changing and its ideal to book them at their best price. I personally swear by Skyscanner for tickets because of their price alert feature, and I also prefer to book them as early as possible. Checking out individual airline websites can also get you great deals.
The most important – and mostly overlooked – thing that you need to do before jet-setting is to check your passport for the expiry date.
I know it sounds silly, but I know someone who bought nonrefundable return tickets from India to Spain, only to realise weeks later that her passport was expiring in three months. Apparently, the authorities will not allow you to travel if your passport is about to expire in six months of the trip. Make sure to check it.
Coming to Visa, it is advisable to get the visa for the country you are visiting beforehand. For countries that offer Visa On Arrival, you have to carry your return ticket and might have to show them your hotel booking so be prepared.
Find out the luggage rules for the airline you’re booked with, and stay well under it because you might shop during the trip and that will result in you having to pay up for extra weight when you return. You can use these tips for packing light. It’s easier said than done, obviously, but one can try, right?
Keeping your phones charged up is very important, and investing in an international charger for your phone, an adaptor plug and a voltage converter is something you should definitely do. AC/DC differences in various countries and the power outlet design variations might make it impossible for you to use your original chargers in some countries, so I suggest you buy this magical device as soon as you plan your international trip.
While you are in a different country, make sure that your family and friends back home can communicate with you.
These are digital times and you will get a WiFi in almost all hotels and cafes. Some of the famous tourist destinations in the world are Smart Cities with free WiFi all over like Tel Aviv and Paris, but it’s better to have a backup plan.
If your trip is a longer one, investing in a local sim card (possible in most countries) might be a good idea. For a short trip, using a Matrix or a Uniconnect card is a good way to stay in touch while you’re on the go.
Our body might not react as we expect to new places and new food habits.
Before the trip, tell your doctor about your destination and ask if you need certain vaccinations. Also prepare a basic medical kit for yourself. Always keep the prescription with you while travelling. However, be sure to find out about the tourist rules of the country you’re visiting and do not carry any drug (with or without prescription) that might be questionable, because this is a tricky thing.
Also, brush up on your medical insurance and keep a note of the contact number they provide in case you’re sick abroad, and also make a note of where to go or where not to go in case of medical emergencies, according to your medical insurance. It’s always best to be prepared, right?
There is no other way, you must get a travel insurance before your trip, and also check with your existing medical insurance if they will cover you in the country you’re visiting. If not, research online and buy a good insurance to take care of you in case you get sick.
Take it from me – it is always best to exchange some amount of money into the currency of the country you’re visiting, before the trip. I learned it the hard way.
In my opinion it is always better to have some local currency ready when you reach the destination, to pay for cabs etc. Also, a lot of seasoned travellers advice on travelling with US Dollars because those are easy to exchange at almost every city/airport, and the rates are almost never down. Good trick, I think.
That’s my very basic list for first time international travellers. These tips will see you through your international trip easily, but the most important tip is this – be happy and enjoy your time. Travel not only opens our minds to new things, but also changes us. So, be ready for change, my friends!
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