I don’t know about you, but taking the time to travel can definitely open your eyes to a new experience. You not only learn so much about the world, but about yourself. Everyone should get to dive into this exposure.
That being said, a lot of people I know are too afraid to travel abroad. They see it as almost a “hazing” experience—especially if they’ve never traveled abroad before. What a lot of people don’t know, is that as long as you take the time to plan out what you need to know, and what you need to bring, you’ll be ready for an amazing adventure.
What you Need
- Passport—this should be a no-brainer, but I don’t know how many people I’ve helped with that almost forget this little guy
- Visa—you don’t always need this when you travel, but it’s always good to check your state department page—it should be listed
- For both the passport and visa, photocopy both. This will help you in case of emergency; like losing it, or having them stolen. You’ll be able to get another one issued to you quicker when you can show proof of citizenship
- Universal plug adapter—this will help save you during times when you quickly need to charge your phone or laptop, and the outlets are different
- Medicine—prescription and over the counter things like Advil or Pepto. You’ll be thanking me later when you try that spicy new cuisine and are stuck in the bathroom
- Maps / Guidebooks—if you like to plan things and actually know where you are, these will make you feel more comfortable
- Small travel bag—this helps so much when walking around through the city you’re going to
Now, it depends on where you’re traveling to. But no matter where you go outside of the U.S., you’re going to have to go through customs. Customs can be an intimidating and scary word to a lot of people, but it’s just a more intense version of your airport security. If you just remind yourself that they are just doing their job, it might be a little easier for you to understand.
Going through customs has three steps: immigration and passport control, customs, and agricultural inspection – and in some cases, a secondary screening. Don’t fret. Here are some quick tips to get you through customs:
- Check if there are any required fees when traveling in and out of the country. Sometimes there may be an entrance or exit fee, and may range from $20, to almost $200—and they aren’t included in your airline ticket
- Turn your cell phones off – they’ll take them away from you, and very possibly, might not even give it back
- Try and stay away from putting any fruit or food in your traveling bag. Not only will you get a fine for it (the lowest I heard was $100), but you’ll also get delayed at agriculture inspection, and might miss your flight
- If you’re bringing any prescription medication, make sure to bring your doctors signed note on it, and declare it when going through customs
- Don’t make any jokes—seriously, you just look like the idiot, and you’ll look suspicious, even when you’re not
After making it through customs, you’re onto the next stage of your exciting trip—and hopefully one step closer to your destination! Customs is the scariest part for a lot of people, but as long as you’re compliant, and do as they say, it’ll be a breeze.
A Few More Tips
I have some last quick tips to consider when traveling abroad, that’ll make your stay a little easier, and can help prepare you for any unexpected plans:
- Check with your travel insurance—great insurance companies can help set you up with travel insurance. You don’t want to leave the country without knowing someone has your back.
- Register with the Embassy—if there happens to be a problem in the country (weather / terrorist, etc), it’ll be easier for the U.S. to contact you, and get to you safely.
- Check the money conversions of the country you’re traveling to. Also, call your bank and let them know you’re traveling abroad. If you don’t, they might think you’re card is stolen, if you’re from Boise Idaho and they suddenly see transactions from Madrid.
- When finally arriving at your destination, and are finally getting all “touristy”—leave your passport hidden in your hotel room. A lot of people get these stolen from their back pocket without ever realizing.
By following these quick tips and advice when traveling abroad, you’ll be sure to have a smooth transition to your destination. I wish you the most fun, and an exciting adventure to share with all of your friends and family upon your return. Traveling is the best gift you can give to you—so go and explore the world!