If you’re a student who is planning on attending school abroad as part of your studies or you’re being relocated by your company, it can seem daunting to visit a new country for the first time. Looking for some tips and tricks to mastering international travel? We have them, courtesy of Travel + Leisure.
• Hotel business cards: You’ll most likely be spending time in a hotel, at least at first till you can find a more permanent place. Grab a business card from the front desk so if you ever get lost, you’ll have the name and address of the hotel in the local language.
• The six-month passport rule: The expiration date on your passport is deceiving. In the U.S., you can use your passport up to the date listed inside the cover. However, many other countries have been known to deny travelers entry if the passport expires in under six months. That’s because they want to ensure you have a valid passport to get back to the United States in case of travel snafus and unexpected issues. You should always renew your passport nine months before the actual expiration date.
• Credit cards: The best exchange rates are usually within your credit card. That being said, many credit cards will add foreign transaction fees of up to three percent. Do your research on credit cards that don’t have this fee before heading on your trip.
• Fraud alerts. Let your credit card company’s fraud department know the country you’ll be visiting and when. This will prevent them from thinking your card was stolen.
• Credit card chips: In the U.S., credit cards use magnetic strips on the back of the card or chips on the front. In Europe, cards have a chip embedded in them and this is largely the way transactions are conducted, along with a PIN. If your cards don’t already have this technology, seek out ones that do or upgrade your existing card.
• Medicine: Always carry an eye mask and earplugs in your medicine bag, along with pain relievers, antacids, prescriptions, contact lenses and solution, etc. You may not come across a 24-hour pharmacy overseas like you see on every other block in the U.S. Fill your prescriptions before you go.
• Travel alerts: Check the State Department’s travel warnings and alerts, and always print out the address and contact information of the local embassy.
• Charges and Adapters: When going overseas it’s crucial to have the right adapter for your devices. An USB universal power adapter can make your life easier, because you won’t have to figure out power outlets, wattage, and will allow you to charge multiples devices simultaneously. When it comes to charges it’s advisable to pack more than one to be on the safe side, according to our friends at One Bag Travel.
• Data roaming: To avoid international data roaming, go to settings and ensure it is disabled. Sign up for an international calling and data plan if you’ll be abroad for a while.
• Language learning: This one you have to prepare for before you go. Sign up for language lessons with BRIC Learning Systems to connect with tutors in their native countries. You’ll also find this invaluable when learning all about the culture!