Before You Go
If you don’t speak the local language, learn a few common phrases such as: please, thank you, excuse me and I’m sorry.
Call your credit card company before you leave and put a travel alert on your card. Remember to write down their international customer service number. Consider obtaining a credit card that offers no foreign transaction fees.
Register your trip with the U.S. Embassy. This allows the State Department to better assist you in case of an emergency. At the very least, you should have their contact info on hand.
Make copies of your passport. Leave a copy at home with your travel professional, family or friends. Keep a copy on your person, a copy in your luggage so it’s the first thing to be seen when opened and email yourself a copy.
Be sure to print out the address of the hotel you will be staying in. Some hotels have business cards with a map on the back. Be sure to grab one. It’s helpful when taking a taxi back to your hotel.
Be sure to have enough storage media for pictures and videos. Download all media at the end of each night, either to an external hard drive, laptop or online storage account.
Always purchase travel insurance. It will cover things like trip cancellation, trip interruption and health issues. Most insurance is not accepted internationally.
Contact you wireless provider about an international rate plan. Better yet, purchase an international SIM card to avoid international roaming fees.
Memorize the 3-1-1 rule for acceptable carry-on luggage: 3 oz. bottles or less, in a 1 qt. plastic bag, 1 bag per passenger at the checkpoint. If you have a medical exception to the 3-1-1 rule, declare the item, which will then be inspected and most likely allowed through.
Visit the TSA website for the most up-to-date information.
Purchase foreign currency from your bank before you leave. Avoid currency exchanges in the airport or from sidewalk vendors.
Packing / What to Bring Wear easy-fitting clothes and slip-on shoes.
This will save you time at the security gates.
Bring along a scarf or travel blanket to avoid using the airline blankets.
Bring a travel first aid kit: ibuprofen (or other pain killer), decongestant, Nyquil, bandages, Hydrocortisone cream, Pepto-Bismol, Imodium, Neosporin, antibacterial wipes, Benadryl and bug spray.
If you can’t afford to lose it, don’t pack it. Put it in your carryon or leave it at home.
Pack a change of clothes in your carryon in case your luggage is delayed. Pack extra underwear.
Also, pack the following in your carryon: toothbrush, toothpaste, prescription medications, deodorant.
Carry the travel size packs of wet wipes and tissues. Toilet paper is not a given in many parts of the world. Instead of folding your clothes, roll them. It saves spaces.
Bring Ziploc bags of different sizes. Believe me, these will come in handy.
Don’t forget extra batteries and charger for your electronics (camera, laptop, cell phone).
Always wear shoes in the airplane lavatory. It’s just disgusting not to.
Beware of free public Wi-Fi. Many are unsafe.
Always wear sunscreen if you’re going to be outside regardless of temperature or weather.
Eat like a local. Avoid places with menus in English. Never ask a hotel for recommendations.
Never carry your wallet in your back pocket and never carry your purse on just your shoulder.
Be sure to get small change in local currency. You may need it for vending machines, tips even public restrooms.
Bring your sense of humor. We can plan everything, but inevitably, things happen. Embrace it and have a good time anyway.
If possible, use credit cards instead of debit cards. Credits cards offer a higher level of protection if lost or stolen. Debit cards are linked to your assets. It may take a while for banks to reissue stolen funds to your account.
Tip housekeeping staff each day. Housekeeping is instructed not to move money or personal items, so leave a note with the tip.