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How to Travel Like a Pro (Even if it's Your First Trip) - International Edition

Welcome back to the Starlight Series!

So far, we have talked about the basics on how to travel like you've been doing it all your life. In that post, we covered basics like packing like a pro, how to be more comfortable with your upcoming destination, and more. Plus, we have another blog post on must-do tips to keep your vacation as smooth as possible.

Now, let's talk about traveling internationally, which is much more likely to be a first for many. Get on that cruise or flight confidently with these tips for traveling overseas and you won't ever have to worry about being suspected of being a first-timer!

1. Sort Out Your Passport Sooner Rather Than Later

When it comes to traveling internationally, your passport is the #1 requirement. If you are traveling overseas for the first time, you will need to begin the application process as soon as possible. You will need to apply in person at an applicable facility. Look up where to apply for a passport near you. Check ahead of time what you may need to bring with you in person to the office before applying.

After the first, in-person step, it usually takes approximately 4 - 6 weeks (and up to 8) to receive your physical copy. This timeline may vary depending on current events. For an additional fee, you may expedite the service and receive it within 2 - 3 weeks. If you need to travel internationally any sooner, your best bet is to make an appointment at the agency as soon as possible, where they can help you directly with your individual situation. You can check on your application status online at any time.

If you already have a passport, make sure it does not expire within six months of your traveling period. If it is close to expiring, check your country's entry requirements ahead of time.

2. Plan For a Safe Travel

When traveling to a brand new country, there are more steps to consider when it comes to staying safe and healthy. Check ahead of time to see about any required or recommended vaccines you may need or want for your destination. The CDC has a traveler health center on their website to check for health tips while traveling.

It's a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor beforehand to ensure you'll be at a comfortable health level for international travel. Check your health insurance to see if it can be used internationally, and if not, be sure to make a plan to accommodate any medical emergencies. Make sure all prescription medications are filled and ready to go. Local pharmacies are always there to help in the event of needing medical attention.

3. Call Your Bank

This tip was covered in the previous installment of "How to Travel Like a Pro," but when traveling overseas, there are a few extra steps. Firstly, call your bank with the dates you'll be away to make sure no cards will be shut off. Then, when traveling internationally, check which debit or credit cards may be used internationally. Some companies may charge international fees, so check beforehand what some of the best cards to use internationally may be. Debit cards able to be used internationally can be used at ATM machines to get local currency. However, be aware that some ATMs may charge a transaction fee. When you land, you can always opt to exchange your home currency with local currency at an exchange counter.

4. Call Your Cell Phone Provider

If you'd prefer to use your own phone plan while traveling, most major carriers offer international plans. These vary depending on the carrier, so make an appointment to chat with someone who can help you. If you'd prefer, many international travelers switch out their phone SIM cards with a local SIM card for their destination. If this sounds like what you'd prefer to do, check with your carrier on how to do it correctly without messing up your current plan.

Otherwise, it's always an option to keep data and roaming off and only use international data for emergencies to limit the possibly costly fees that can rack up. Then, you can use wifi to use iMessage or FaceTime (for iPhones) or WhatsApp.

Pro Tip: Always know the local emergency numbers for your upcoming destinations.

5. Pack More Essentials

Packing for international adventures means packing for unexpected emergencies. The most confusing of which may just be electronics. The world of voltage, converters, and adapters varies country-to-country. You can check a guide prior to travel to check if your destination's electronics are compatible with your home country's. If you need to pack extra electronic help, here's what you need to know:

A plug adapter will only allow your electronic's plug to fit into an outlet.

A converter changes the power level of the outlet so your international device will not be overloaded, avoiding electrical fires.

Check for voltage information before plugging anything in. Many phone and laptop chargers do not need a converter and simply need an adapter so they can be plugged into the outlet. However, look up the device in question and there will be information available online on its international usage.

6. Know What to Expect Upon Arrival (And Your Return)

When you enter a new country, you will need to go through immigration. Here, you'll show your passport and declare your reason for travel--which is pleasure, of course! Customs is where you'll declare any goods being brought in. You will fill out a form with all your information when you enter, but be sure to keep this on you while traveling. You may need this form upon exiting the country. When you return to your home country, you will once again go through immigration and customs, so be sure to know what you can and cannot bring back to your home country with you.

And there you have it, travelers! All you need to know for when it comes to traveling internationally safely and successfully. With these tips, you'll be prepared for everything that comes at you.

Interested in talking more about travel tips, tricks, and destination inspiration? Get in touch with me here. I look forward to hearing about what country you'll be crossing off your bucket list next!

Until then, toodles!

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