Top 5 Things to Know Before An International Travel
Hey jetsetters! In less than a week, I will be off to Europe! Traveling is always super exciting especially when it is traveling to another country. I have spoken to many people who are afraid to travel overseas because of all the unknowns. Traveling to another country can be just a simple as traveling domestically. You just need to make sure to know a few things BEFORE booking your travel! It will make things less stressful and your planning more enjoyable. Check out my top 5 things to know before an international travel! Check out my other travel tips here as well!
1. TRAVEL BANS
The key in traveling internationally is research research research! Buying international flight is very easy but you want to be sure you do your research before hitting “book”. One area to research are travel bans and alerts. The last thing you want to do is book a flight to overseas to only find out there are travel bans or civil unrests going on. Sometimes not all unrest are shown on our news so you want to be sure you are not vising a country that is currently unsafe or if there are travel bans. Airlines such as American Airlines are really good about posting travel bans on their homepage. Another website to check is this website here which is more of a comprehensive list of travel advisories. Also it is a good idea to make a list and print off a copy of the addresses and phone numbers of the US Embassy in all foreign countries that you will be traveling too. Use this link for addresses of US Embassies. If an attack happens, usually internet is the first to go.
2. VISA REQUIREMENTS
Once you know your country that you are visiting is safe, then research any required visas that you may have to obtain in order to visit. For US Citizens visiting Europe and most of the Caribbean, no visas are usually required with a visit of less than 90 days. You can travel with a passport. Where it gets tricky are places such as Asia, India, Middle East, Africa and Australia. You want to see what is required per your citizenship and how long is the turn around time. This is just as important as knowing if one is actually required- how quickly can you obtain a visa. You don’t want to book that flight deal that departs in 60 days if turn around time is 3 months. This website here is a great website to check what visas are required by citizenship and by country.
3. PASSPORT & PASSPORT EXPIRATION DATE
Check to see if you need a passport to travel. This may be an obvious you don’t know how many times people forget or do not do their research. One area to look at are your connecting flights. If you connect in a foreign country, you may need both a passport and visa even though you never leave the airport. We almost ran into this situation when my husband traveled by himself in the midst of us going through immigration. It ended up being fine, but we had a little heart attack because he connected in a different country and they asked for a visa. But he had his Italian passport which he didn’t show upfront only the Green Card documentation stating it was in process and it ended up being okay.
Did you also know that some countries will not allow you to enter the country if your passport expires within 6 months? Though the U.S. lets you use your passport until it expires, some countries will deny travelers entry if the passport expires in less than six months. This is because if for some reason you are stuck in their country longer than planned (civil unrest), they want to be sure you have a valid passport to eventually travel back to the United States. You may want to try to renew 9-12 months prior in case there are delays with getting passports renewed which can sometimes happen.
4. FOREIGN CURRENCY
This was a big one for us this year since we are visiting multiple countries all of which uses different currencies. I thought Switzerland and France used the EURO but the Swiss has their own currency. So we will be ordering various of currencies for our trip but not too much. It really is never safe to carry around so much currency with you. If you have left overs, the best way to get rid of it is to see if your hotel will allow you to apply it toward your hotel balance and pay the rest on your card.
You should also check with your current bank and see if there are any other sister banks in the countries that you will be traveling in where there will be little to no fees associated with withdrawing from a foreign ATM. however, the recent years, Bank of America as well as other banks now charge a foreign transaction fee (B.A.C 3%). Sometimes you can get a better deal using credit card or using a card associated with a credit union. Also to get foreign currency, usually you get a better rate by ordering currency from your local bank. It can take 2-3 days to have it deliver to you or a local branch so be sure you do so ahead of time. This year I remembered to order early and saved $30 with my currency order vs getting currency from the airport.
5. INTERNATIONAL ELECTRICITY
The last tip to know before going on international travel is electricity. You can’t just plug in your appliances and phones to any socket while traveling to another country. For one, the sockets are different. You will need to buy an adaptor that you plug into that fits the sockets of that country. See a list of plugs, sockets and voltage by country here. Each country typically has their own type of socket. UK is different from Europe. Some European countries may have slightly different sockets as well. So in addition to the “European adaptor” you may have to buy one particular to that country.
And two, the electicity is different and use a different voltage. You could fry your appliances if you do. For an electricity converter, I have being using Walk About Travel converters for over 10 years without any problems and highly recommend it. I have been using that same one for over 10 yrs too. REMEMBER: An adaptor does not convert. Read the product description before you buy. sometimes places on Amazon will have converter in the name to get more google hits but it may not actually convert. Don’t fry your precious electronics or phone. Most phones now in days does not need a converter like in Europe. For Italy, Greece, Amsterdam, I have not used a converter for my cellphone nor laptop but please do check your appliance voltage before plugging in. Never bring high powered items such as a hair dryer. Best to buy one there or use the one at the hotel. For flat irons, this great brand already converted for US and European use.
I hope you find these tips helpful for your next international getaway! Be sure to follow me on Instagram as I visit Copenhagen, Switzerland, Paris, French Riviera, Norway and Iceland!