10 Travel Tips To Make You A Smarter Traveler
1. Wear a money belt to protect your passport and valuables
I wish I had a penny for every time somebody tried to pickpocket me in Barcelona. Wearing a money belt in a foreign country is a great idea, especially if your hotel room doesn’t have a safe. I know many people who were pick-pocketed without even knowing (be sure to never leave your wallet in a back pocket). If you’re vehemently against wearing a money belt (for style or other reasons), I recommend making copies of your passport and credit cards. Better safe than sorry!
2. Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees
Thanks to credit cards, the days of carrying copious amounts of local currency are over. I have the Chase Sapphire Card, which offers no foreign transaction fees, 2x points on travel and dining, and 25% additional value when redeeming travel expenses (airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises). I highly recommend getting a credit card like this, so you won’t have to worry about international transaction fees. It also allows you to rack up travel rewards that you can use for future trips!
3. Research places where the locals go
One of the best things about traveling is being able to immerse yourself in the local culture. Rather than eating at McDonalds or shopping at international chains, I recommend researching spots where you’ll find many locals. TripAdvisor reviews are particularly helpful with this. There are many other travel apps out there as well. Walking tours are also a great way to learn about the hidden gems and neighborhoods where the locals hang out.
4. Print your boarding pass(in case your phone dies)
Though I use mobile boarding passes whenever possible, I always print one as a backup. There was an instance last year when my phone was at 70% battery life, and suddenly died at the gate prior to boarding. Bad luck? Perhaps. But this traumatic experience proved to me that it’s always smarter to have a physical backup.
5. Purchase tickets for attractions in advance
This is definitely one of the most important international travel tips. Not only will this give you a head start in planning your itinerary, but it will also help you avoid long lines. I’ve made the mistake of not buying tickets beforehand for the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam Time is precious when you’re traveling!
6. Bring snacks
Airport food is grossly overpriced, so I recommend eating a big meal before arriving at the airport, and bringing snacks with you on the plane. Once you reach your destination, it’s equally as important to be prepared with snacks. Packing them for the day gives you more flexibility and saves you money. Unless you’re on a guided tour, you can expect that your international travels will never go exactly according to plan. It’s likely that you won’t be having lunch at 12:00 sharp, so plan accordingly and pack some tasty snacks!
7. Check with your doctor to see if any vaccinations are required or recommended
This is particularly important if you’re planning to visit countries in Asia or Africa. In addition to your doctor, government websites are also a valuable resource. I always check the US Department of State website for advisories and recommended vaccinations prior to traveling. These resources are crucial, as health conditions in a given place can suddenly change. Though you probably already have the required vaccinations for most countries, it is a smart idea to double check.
8. Pack extra clothes in your carry-on
This is one of those travel tips that many international travelers overlook. If you’re planning to bring a checked bag on your flight, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Even in 2019, there is a possibility that airlines can mishandle your checked luggage. Some of my family members and friends have been the last people at the baggage claim, only to find out that their luggage didn’t arrive. Sometimes, there could be a 24-hour delay before receiving your luggage. In order to avoid having to purchase clothes at your destination (who has time for that?), I recommend packing a few clothing items in your carry-on just in case.
9. Bring an international travel adapter
This tip applies to everyone, especially those who use cell phones and cameras to document their adventures. Many countries around the world have different voltages. Rather than buying individual adapters, and having to remember how many prongs apply to each place, I recommend buying a universal travel adapter/converter. In case you were wondering – American outlets take 2 flat prongs, continental Europe takes two round prongs, and the UK takes three rectangular prongs.
10. Ensure your passport will not expire within 6 months of visiting
This is one of the most crucial tips that should be on your international travel checklist. Most countries don’t allow entry for tourists unless their passport will expire at least 6 months after the final travel date. In other words, if your passport has less than 6 months until expiration, you must renew it as soon as possible. Otherwise, you won’t be allowed to travel internationally. Are you planning any international trips for 2019? Be sure to check your passport’s expiration date now!