Preparing for International Travel

Traveling abroad carries some challenges that don’t exist when traveling domestically. These challenges aren’t insurmountable, and in fact are relatively easy to deal with if you simply prepare in advance. Of course, one problem you may have in your preparations is that you don’t know what to prepare for. Hopefully, after you’ve read this article, you’ll know a few more things about what you should prepare for and how to prepare for them.

Your passport and other travel requirements

Obviously, the first step to international travel is making sure your passport is in order. You won’t get very far– that is to say, you won’t be boarding any planes– without it. If you don’t have a passport, get your documentation together– you’ll need your birth certificate, a second form of identification, and two passport-sized photos. (Passports expire after ten years, so if you already have one, make sure it’s in no danger of expiring soon.)

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You also should double-check the specific visa requirements of any country you plan to visit. If certain immunizations or vaccinations are required for entry into a country, make sure you are up to date on those. (On the flip side, if you have any medical conditions, you’ll want to find out what the local level of care available will be.)

Money tips

Exchange rates change all the time, so make sure to familiarize yourself with the most up-to-date ones (having a currency app on your phone is a great way to do this), and always acquire some foreign currency ahead of time.

If you use a credit card, take these two important recommendations to mind:

  • A Smart Chip card is less vulnerable to fraud, and many countries’ payment machines use Smart Card technology as opposed to magnetic strips.
  • Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Otherwise, you could end up paying 1-3% extra on every purchase you make.

One more piece of advice: Notify your bank in advance where you’re traveling, otherwise you may find yourself resolving a suspicion of fraudulent activity late at night from a foreign country with no ability to access your money.

Phones and Electronics

You can bring a cell phone abroad, just make sure your plan covers for international use, or that you buy some international minutes beforehand. You may want to leave unnecessary devices behind, since you are exposing yourself to the risk of having them lost, broken, or stolen.

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Other countries use different electrical standards than the U.S.. You will likely have to buy adapters for your electronic devices. Be sure to research the standards in the countries you are visiting, and pack appropriately.


You don’t want to offend your hosts while you are a guest in their nation. Familiarize yourself with the local customs and manners of dress, with any recent events appearing in the local or national news. Learn what topics are sensitive and what behaviors are considered offensive– best to avoid them altogether.

While mastery of the local language is not necessary before traveling, becoming familiar with a few important phrases will go a long way toward a smoother trip.

International traveling can be a lot of fun and rewarding cultural experience. Make sure you prepare properly for your next trip. When you’re ready to take your next vacation, visit or call 1-800-935-2620!