10 Tips for International Travel

Traveling internationally is a great adventure! With a bit of preparation your trip can be fun and stress-free upon arrival. After traveling with students for more than 10 years, I have some tips I have learned mostly from students about traveling comfortably and with as little luggage as possible.

It's important to do a little planning for any trip you take. A quick checklist can save you from spending lots of money at your local airport or once you arrive at your destination.

  • Check your passport expiration date before committing to a trip. If you already have a passport, check the expiration date. Certain countries do not allow entry if your passport expires soon. To be safe, verify that your passport is valid for at least six months after your return date. If you don't yet have your passport, you'll need to plan on a new one taking about eight weeks to be delivered to you. 
  • Pack light in a bag that can fit in a carry on space and is light itself. Consider compression bags to keep things small in your suitcase. 
  • Learn how to fold your business clothes so they don't wrinkle.
  • Choose wardrobe colors that go with everything. This is otherwise known as a capsule wardrobe (there are plenty of great tips for these on YouTube or Pinterest).
  • Bring a universal adapter with USB ports. Generic USB chargers can short out or damage your device with greater voltage. Use your manufacturer USB charger plugs or use the USB ports on your adapter.
  • If you are traveling internationally, bring an unlocked phone you can add a sim card to with a data plan. This will help you easily find directions and use texting apps such as WhatsApp and GroupMe. Consider a low-cost Skype account to use a dial phone utilizing your data plan.
  • Use public transit where possible. Public transit helps you get to know your city and meet interesting people.
  • Write down the address of your hotel/lodging with the postal code and have it handy on a phone or a piece of paper. If you lose your luggage, you'll need that available. When you are traveling internationally, it's common to be asked where you are staying. Finally, it's nice to hand something to a cab driver if there is a language barrier.
  • Bring snacks and your own food on flights. Bring a refillable water bottle and drink lots of water. Flying dehydrates you and drinking water avoids jetlag. On long flights more than 10 hours, make sure to get up and walk around periodically and take aspirin for a few days before your flight to avoid blood clots.
  • Bring a toiletries kit on the plane containing toothpaste, toothbrush, eye drops, and glasses (if you wear contacts) to help you sleep comfortably.
  • Neck pillows for long bus, train and plane rides can help you sleep comfortably.
  • Pack a small bottle of laundry soap or or soap pods with your toiletries. In the event your favorite travel pants get a spaghetti sauce spill or your trip is extended leaving you short some clean socks, having laundry detergent handy means you can easily hand-wash a few items in your bathroom sink and hang to dry. I double bag mine in Ziploc bags to avoid leaks.
  • Let your your bank and credit card company know that you are traveling. In most cases, this can be done online. This makes transactions much smoother when you arrive.
  • Once you arrive, never travel with all your cash, credit cards, and passport unless you know you will need it.
  • Engage in local culture-visit an art museum, try local foods, step outside your comfort zone. Understanding the culture of where you visit can make your trip much more entertaining and improve any business experience.
  • Be respectful of other cultures. Learn hello, thank you and good bye in the local languages.

Traveling should be fun and entertaining. With a little preparation, it can be!