For any jetsetters or world travelers out there, one of the most fulfilling things is seeing another stamp placed in your passport. It’s a great thing to flip through later on and reminisce about all your past adventures.
If you’re crossing borders for the first time, you may be even more excited or nervous about what lies ahead. New cultures, maybe a different language, brand new adventures and the best part, new foods to try.
Before you run off to the airport and hop on the next plane, take a look at the following list.
You might be an expert packer or you could be one of those that throws everything into a pile, tosses it in the suitcase and then has to sit on it to make sure it closes.
When you’re packing, make sure you double check with the airline about suitcase weight limits. While the typical max weight is 50 pounds, some European airlines use kilograms and they may have a limit of 20 kilos. 20 kilos is only 44 pounds, so double check with the airline. It’s usually not an issue, but it has come up in the past.
Also, make sure you’re not purchasing an economy light fare that many international airlines are offering. Economy light does little more than get you a seat on the plane and even limits the carry-on size.
Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on in case you bag gets lost and take a picture of your suitcase as well. In your suitcase, try and save space by putting socks inside shoes, rolling t-shirts and opening up sweaters or jackets to cover the bottom. That way, you’ll have more room for cool gear, like fishing equipment or a guitar, or any souvenirs.
The Tech Side
While you may opt for your wireless carrier’s international plan, those can become expensive quite fast. You could just as easily survive with WiFi and your cellphone resting on airplane mode.
Before you head out, download the map of the city or cities you’re heading to on your phone’s map application. Your phone does not need data to use the GPS feature and you can find your way around pretty easily.
Buy some Skype credit in case you need to call a hotel. All you need is an internet connection and their phone number to make the call. To keep in touch with family back home, think about getting a messenger service like WhatsApp or Viber that only uses WiFi to send and receive messages.
Show me the Money
While the U.S. dollar may work in some neighboring countries, like Mexico and many islands in the Caribbean, it won’t work everywhere. So, what is the best option for withdrawing that sweet green? What will help you stay inside your travel budget?
Do not use an airport’s exchange as you’re usually hit up with a number of fees and low rates. One of the best ways is to head straight to an ATM after landing and use your credit card. It’s the best way to get an exchange rate and the fees will be minimal.
Also, make sure you advise your bank that you’re heading overseas. Nothing worse than arriving to find out you’re locked out of your cards.
Speaking of money management, don’t bother bringing a money belt. No one wears them, they’re uncomfortable and you can be just as fine keeping your wallet in your front pocket if you’re worried about pickpockets.
Look for a Free Tour
One of the trends that is hopefully around to stay is the free tour. The idea is pretty simple. Companies offer free tours and your only payment is the tip you give the tour guide at the end.
Schedule one of these for your first days there so you can get out and see the city. It will give you a good mental map and maybe help you check off some things that you were 50/50 about in the first place.
Most of the free tour companies also offer additional tours that will take you on other adventures. You can ask for a brochure and get a solid recommendation from them about where to go next or what to do.