International Travel Tips for Beginners Part One

Last week someone asked me for some insight on traveling outside of the U.S. as a first-timer. I only wished that someone gave me some valuable advice the first time I used my passport (in my adult years). Fortunately I have yet to run into any major problems, or sticky situations that would scare me away from seeing the world.  If you are planning your first international vacation, this post is definitely for you… OR even if you’ve been a few places outside the U.S., these tips could still be beneficial to you.

  1.  Take a Photocopy of Your Passport–  In case you lose your passport of course! I’ll admit, I didn’t do this the first few rounds of my international traveling. Luckily nothing happened to where I needed a copy, but it’s good to have.  You will want to stash this copy in another place besides your purse, backpack, knapsack, or whatever you’re carrying around on a daily basis during your stay. Try keeping it in your suitcase or toiletry bag.  Just somewhere in a place that doesn’t go everywhere you go.  If someone steals your purse, or backpack with all of your information in it, you will still have a copy of your passport back in your room.
  1.  Take a Picture of Your Stamp – Once you’ve gotten your passport stamped, and picked up your luggage, I’m sure you’re excitingly heading off to your destination to have some fun, fun, fun. One thing you might wanna do though…. Go ahead and snap a picture of your stamp.  This tip goes hand in hand with Tip #1.  It may even be a good idea to email the picture of the stamp and your passport to yourself or a family member in the U.S. (once you have a wi-fi connection of course).  That way, just in case you lose EVERYTHING for whatever reason, you have a picture of your passport, and your stamp showing you are visiting that country legally.  You will still need to head on over to the U.S. embassy and get a replacement, but at least you have some identification.
  1.  Take a Pen in Your Carry-on – On the plane before you arrive in another country, you will need to fill out an immigration form. It’s best to have it completed before you get off  the plane to avoid any delays.  I cannot tell you how annoying it is when waiting to borrow a pen from someone else.  Not all airlines will give you a pen to use either.  Every man for themselves.  Trust me, I know this tip sounds silly, but just bring your own pen.
  1.  Don’t Let the Taxi Drivers Get Over on You! – Most people in this world are generally good people. And most countries you visit will welcome you with open arms, and genuinely appreciate your U.S. dollars.  However, not all natives will be fair.  Some will definitely try to take advantage of you.  One way to avoid this is by contacting your hotel, and simply asking if they know about much it costs to take a taxi from the airport to their property.  Most times, they will be able to give you an estimate, or even offer you some type of shuttle service (don’t fall for the shuttle service all the time either… often times it is over-priced).  It also helps if you know the language of the country you are visiting.  You don’t have to be fluent, but as long as you know some basic phrases, numbers, and can talk money, you should be good to go.   If you are able to ask how much it is for a taxi ride in their language, they are more likely to give you the true price.  If not, they may feel they can overcharge you because they know you don’t know any better.  It’s best if the taxi has a working meter, but unfortunately in poorer countries, they will not.  Use your best judgement… if the price doesn’t sound right, don’t get in!  If you tell them “no thank you”, they may even lower the price just to get your coins.

More tips to come at a later date!

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