5 Things You Can’t Forget Before You Get On That International Flight
Alright so you’ve booked your trip, now what? Here are my top 5 recommendations for things you should not forget to do before getting on that international flight. These are things I have, unfortunately, had to learn the hard way. This will actually be a great checklist reminder for myself on all future trips, because even though I know these things I always seem to forget at least 1 in the scramble of preparing for a trip. So keep this page bookmarked, trust me, you’ll need it ;)
1. Check if you need a visa
Ok so this actually should’ve been the first thing you did after you nailed the destination country, but before purchasing the flight. Buuut, there’s been more than one time where I’ve been on the plane and I’m thinking “Oh my gawd I didn’t check if I needed a visa!!! Are they going to let me in the country?!!” So save yourself the mini heart attack and check well in advance. As Americans we have the luxury of being able to travel to many countries visa-free, but you don’t want to take the risk and not know for certain. Some visas are crazy complicated to get (like you need to travel to a major city to apply at a specific embassy), others you can apply by mail and get it back in a few weeks, and others you can purchase on arrival. The process and fees are all country by country, so check your destination country’s official embassy page.
On that same note, make sure your passport will not expire within 6 months of when you are traveling, you have at least 3 completely blank passport pages and 1 blank “Visa” passport page (in the back of your passport, labeled Visa). You would think that if immigration officers see just one stamp on a passport page they’ll let it slide, but I have been on a trip where 2 friends were literally not let onto the flight because they didn’t have enough 100% blank passport pages. That was one of those times where I was like “whaaa you guys actually take that seriously?!!” YES, THEY DO. You can check the official U.S. Department of State site to check exactly how many blank pages and/or visa passport pages you need, along with other very important entry requirements (click on your specific destination country and you’ll see a similar image to this):
2. Set up travel notifications on ALL of your credit/debit cards
I have arrived in a new country and realized my card is blocked because I forgot to notify my bank. Or in a different situation I only put a travel notification on my main card, and when that card didn’t work, I was sh*t out of luck! Ok actually I was very lucky that I was traveling with another person during that trip, so they spotted me until I was able to clear things up with my credit card company. But it was scary not having access to any funds, nonetheless.
The great thing about technology is that now you don’t have to wait hours to speak to representatives over the phone. You can add travel notifications through most online banking accounts or on their respective apps. It takes 2 minutes, tops.
3. Bring some spare cash for arrival
I can’t stress this enough but bring enough cash for you to survive 2 days, and ideally stash another for an emergency. Of course, we have all seen currency exchange places at airports, but it has happened to me more times than I can count that I have arrived either too early or too late and all the currency exchange offices are closed. Most places accept U.S. dollars, so worst come to worst you have something to get you to your hotel/airbnb. Similarly, I have arrived to countries where there was a bank holiday or places where there weren’t any currency exchange offices in a large radius.
Aside from this, hide some cash for an emergency, and stash this in a different place than the money you’re carrying around day-to-day. That way, if your luggage gets broken into or you get pick-pocketed on the street, you don’t lose all of your money. A great tip someone gave me is to always bring a small wallet/purse with expired credit cards, and a few dollars or foreign currency. That way if you try to get mugged (let’s hope this never happens), you can give them this and it will look believable.
4. Check the voltage and outlet types
I hope you know this by now, but the world does not revolve around us Americans, and neither does voltage. Check the voltage for your destination (image below). In the U.S. we have a standard voltage of 110-120V. In many other parts of the world standard voltage is 220-240V. This means that if you plug in an American electronic device meant for 110-120V it will fry when you plug it into a 220-240V outlet. Yes, I also learned this the hard way when my hair straightener exploded in front of my eyes in Australia. If voltage is 220-240V you will need a travel voltage converter (sometimes also known as a transformer, but not the same as an outlet adapter). Most Apple products are dual-voltage, so no converter is needed. But you can check the tiny font on your electronics charger to double-check.
Worldwide Voltage Map (click link for specific country voltage)
Outlet type is related, but different. Outlet type is the actual type of metal prongs that stick out of your chargers. In most countries, you will need an outlet adapter to use your electronics chargers. If you plan to travel often, it makes sense to purchase 1 all-country adapter with multiple types of prongs. This handy graphic includes outlet type for most countries:
Worldwide Outlet Type
Source: Gear Patrol
Travel Adapter: Universal
(Xcords Universal Adapter w/ Dual USB) - Amazon $11.98
If you need a converter and adapter, they do sell a combination product! It is more expensive, but worth it in my opinion. My suggestion is to buy one for multiple plugs, so you can charge your phone, portable charger, and camera all at once.
Travel Adapter & Converter Combination: Universal
(DOACE Travel Adapter & Converter) - Amazon $34.99
*NOTE: Chi straighteners DO NOT work at 220V even with converters!! Save yourself the huge expense and buy a cheap dual-voltage straightener and leave the Chi at home.
Dual-Voltage Hair Straightener
(Wazor Titanium Dual-Voltage Hair Straightener) - Amazon $28.99
5. Bring a portable charger
You’ll be out exploring, taking pictures, and eventually you’ll run out of juice on your device and there may not always be a place to plug in. Plan ahead and bring a portable charger. Be sure to leave it fully charged before your travel day, and be sure to charge it every night you use it. They range anywhere from $7-$50 depending on how much charge they hold and how fast they charge your device. Check out this detailed review on Tech Gear’s top portable chargers. I have the Ankar 10,000 mAh, along with several cheaper ones I was given at career fairs.
I know this was a total omg-mom-I-knowwww post, but I hope by having this resource it will eliminate some serious travel messes I’ve gotten into in the last decade.
Be sure to pin this image below to your Pinterest board!