Living Big Travel’s Top 10 Travel Tips
1. CHECK BEFORE YOU DECIDE
Early on in the trip planning process (i.e. before you book airfare!) make sure you visit the U.S. Department of State’s website for Consular Affairs to read the latest and greatest on each country you’d like to travel to. Here you can read about Passport, Visa and other entry requirements, risks, health warnings, etc.
2. SCHEDULE LONGER CONNECTIONS
It’s not uncommon to see flight routes with connections of 50 minutes, 75 minutes, etc. If you’re connecting through a major airport (such as Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Mexico City, Vancouver, or Bangkok), I would not consider a flight with less than 2 hours of connection time.
Keep in mind: it’s not the job of the TSA (or equivalent in a foreign country) to make sure you get on your flight. They’ll take the time they need to do their job, which is security and safety. In many cases, you’ll have to go through an intermediate immigration and show your passport. So allow time for these transfers. Plus give your luggage a chance to make it on the next flight!
3. GET THE RIGHT DRIVERS LICENSE
More and more countries are requiring an International Drivers License to rent a car. The easiest way to do this is at your local AAA office. Click here to learn more.
4. LEARN YOUR CASH SITCH
In need of cash, in a foreign currency? Worried about foreign transaction fees when you use your credit card on abroad? Call the banks attached to your debit and credit cards that you plan to use. Ask about:
+ Fees for use outside the US
+ Ordering foreign currency in advance
+ Daily withdrawal limit
Then you’ll know the best way to use your credit cards. You’ll also be able to figure out if it makes the most sense to either: order foreign currency in advance, accept the withdrawal fees from a foreign ATM, or exchange your US currency for a foreign currency.
5. BRING THE RIGHT CARDS
Speaking of credit cards: make sure you travel with the credit card you used for all advance purchases like flights, hotels, tours, rental cars, etc. Even if your bank cancels that card and sends you a new one, keep the original card and bring it with you on the trip. Many vendors will ask to review the card for additional identity verification.
6. PAY ATTENTION TO CARRY-ON SIZE
If you’re planning to carry-on your luggage, make sure you read about the luggage restrictions (both size and weight) for EACH airline that is part of your journey. Luggage limits are often smaller with airlines based outside the US.
7. KEEP INFO WITHIN REACH
When you’re about to land in a new country, you’ll often be asked to fill out an immigration card. You’ll be asked to write the name and address of your first stay. Make sure you keep this information handy!
8. ASK THE LOCALS
Pride of place is universal, and locals sharing their recommendations and favorite experiences with you offers a HUGE bonus to your trip! So ask all the questions. Get specific advice on transiting between the airport or train station to your hotel or Airbnb. Ask for help securing advance tickets, reservations, etc.
It never hurts to ask, and most of the time people are excited to help you plan your trip and set you up for a great visit to their country.
9. BUY BABY DIAPERS
Seriously! Picture this: it’s the last day of your trip, and you’ve got fragile, glass, or liquid items you’re trying to pack. You might be thinking, “I wish I had bubble wrap!” Head to the local pharmacy for a pack of baby diapers. Wrap your goods up in the diapers, and then put them inside a clean, empty garbage can liner.
10. THINK THREE HOURS IN ADVANCE
For international flights (especially when you’re returning to the US), I always arrive three hours ahead of my flight departure time. You never know when an airline, or whole airport, changes their process or requirements for check-in. It sounds like a long time, but it’s what nearly all airlines suggest too.