Traveling is great. Not everyone does it, but I feel everyone should. Getting outside your own bubble is good for the soul. Some people are content with staying in their own country. People in the US are notorious for not leaving the US. I encourage ALL people to travel to other countries. It will open your mind. With all that said, you might want to have some tips for traveling international, which is why I put this list together.
Traveling to Thailand and other countries has taught me a few things about international travel. But, I also asked my fellow professional travelers to give me more tips about it. I had to narrow down the long list to ONLY 9!
9) Pack light
Since I bring a lot of camera gear, I am not so great at this. Many of my colleagues live by this rule, and they are traveling all over the place. I have only been separated by my luggage one time, and luckily it was when I returned home. That would not have happened if I just traveled light. Traveling with just carry-on luggage makes it easier to keep moving. I am still figuring out how I can bring most of my camera gear and still pack light. I guess not packing clothes is an option.
8) Passport and visas
This is critical, if you are traveling out of the country. I have yet to see a country that will allow you to visit if your passport expires in less than 6 months. You also want to check and see if you will need a visa to visit the country. In Thailand, at the time of recording this video, I can stay for up to 30 days, any more than that, and I need a visa. To see if you need a visa, do a google search for the consulate of the country you are going to, and look on their site. Also, make many photocopies of your documents. Hotels, rentals, and others will use those when renting out their rooms or equipment. AND, If you lose the real one, having the photocopies can help get you back on track.
7) Travel Insurance
Why? What could possibly go wrong?? Just ask the people who were stranded by WOW airlines suddenly going out of business, or the passengers on the Viking ship that had a mechanical problem in a storm. Not only that, but you could get sick or hurt. But a lot of travel insurance covers even more, like lost luggage, theft, trip cancellation, and more. It is best to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Can you imagine if you were in the hospital, too sick to travel, and needed to re-book your flight? All of that adds up!
6) Familiarize yourself (with the areas you are staying)
And one of the things I learned early on in my travels is to grab a hotel business card to keep with me during my stay. If I got lost, it is very easy to use that to show a taxi, or anyone, to help me get back to my hotel. You should also know where the local police station and hospital are located, as well as your embassy, if you are in a big enough city. You will rarely need to know most of this, but it is good to have the information, just in case!
5) Cell phone
You will definitely want to make sure your cell phone works, and DOESN’T cost you a fortune to use data. We use data on our phones for everything. If you can’t use your current carrier, make sure you can unlock your phone and put in a local SIM card. If that is not possible, you may want to get a throwaway phone when you get to your destination. There are carriers that allow you to travel, and their rates vary. I have Sprint, and they have free data, BUT, it is 3G, and about useless. I can pay for 4G, or get a local SIM. Also, check to see what calls and texts cost, too. You can use WhatsApp for texting and phone calls, if your carrier charges for those. Make sure you know what your options are, so you are prepared!
4) Google Maps – offline mode
Before I left for Thailand, one of the best things I did was download the entire city of Pattaya into my Google maps offline mode. That way, I didn’t have to worry about any data connections. It is pretty easy to do, and I show you in my video at the end of the article!
Make sure you have SOME cash on you, in local currency. You will probably carry more than you normally do, but don’t carry too much. I like to put my money in many different places, which will help if something bad happens. Check the exchange rates so you can know if someone is trying to rip you off. Be aware that most credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee each time you use it. If you do use Credit Cards, use the ones that have the chips on them, they are the most secure. I also keep a little bit of my own currency for when I travel back home, just in case I need it for something before I can get to an ATM.
2) Research your destination
To get the most out of your travels, you will want to know where to go. The best way to do that is to research your destination. Sure, you will probably know the most popular places to go, but don’t you want to see more than just that? Find some places that are less known, but still good. I still can’t wait to get BACK to the winery outside of Pattaya! Look at my videos from Pattaya, I would never have known any of those places, if I hadn’t just looked at Google maps, and explored around it virtually first. Of course, my wife took me to even more places I didn’t know about.
1) Respect the culture
One of the biggest pet peeves of mine is when I see tourists anywhere, and they are clueless. Just there to take a bunch of pictures to prove they were there. Sure, take your pictures, but respect what is around you. There are many things in your country that are completely acceptable for you, but are considered rude or maybe even illegal. A simple example in Thailand is that it is rude to use your foot for just about anything. Touching someone, or stepping on money is considered extremely rude, as is pointing at someone with your foot. Your foot is considered to be a bad part of your body and it is disrespectful to do those things. Whether you agree or disagree, you need to respect their cultures, as you would want them to respect your cultures.
Foreign airlines – purchase in country
Although I have not personally done this, I have heard from a few people about this. In many countries you can fly cheaper if you book those flights while you are there. A close friend of mine saved more than 50% on a weekend in Chiang Mai for 3 people by doing that.
Some honorable mentions:
Keep an eye on travel alerts for your destination, make sure it is safe to go.
Be prepared, take a small med kit with you for minor cuts.
I hope these have helped you out. I want to thank my friends for contributing to the list!
Until next time,