Whether you’re travelling abroad for a week or starting life anew as a nomad, there are a few tricks of the trade that you should know before going abroad. Take a look at these globetrotting tips so you can better navigate (and enjoy) your international adventures.
Credit Cards without Foreign Transaction Fees
It’s great to have a little extra cash when you’re travelling, so make sure you’re not getting charged with credit card fees on your adventures. Foreign transaction fees can really add up, with some ranging as high as 3%. Instead, check out a variety of cards that waive these fees or earn you travel points, meaning you can spend more money kayaking, eating lobster on a beach or just sharing a pint with the locals.
Make a Travel Plan
Wherever you’re going, make sure someone knows about it, specifically the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service that allows you to enroll your trip with the U.S. Embassy or consulate that you’ll be visiting. If there’s an emergency, they’ll be able to help, and they’ll communicate the situation with your family or friends. So make a detailed plan, include documentation that shows where you are and how long you’ll be there, and then upload it with STEP.
Currency Conversion App
When you’re travelling abroad, you might come across merchants offering a dynamic currency conversion. This is where merchants allow you to pay in your own currency (instead of the local currency), which they explain is a convenience to you, the traveler. Unfortunately, these “services” often come with a price, running around 2-3% (which is about the same as a foreign transaction fee).
Instead, just get a currency converter app for your phone, which will allow you to skip the need for a dynamic currency conversion. Take a look at the Currency App, as well as other useful apps for travelling abroad.
Before you go anywhere, you should have at least a broad knowledge of the cultural, national and political situation happening at your destination. You should also take a look at health conditions (should you drink the water?), common types of crime and entry regulations. Most importantly, do a little recon on the food situation. If you’re worried about adjusting to the culinary changes, make a contingency plan and scope out foods you know you can eat.
If you’re going to be travelling to and from the United States on a regular basis (here’s looking at you, business people), you should definitely consider Global Entry. While it costs $100, you will be swimming in travel benefits. Global Entry allows you to skip lines at customs and passport control when you’re coming back to the U.S. It also means you qualify for things like TSA PreCheck, which speeds up your carry-on baggage process.
In order to qualify for Global Entry, you’ll need to apply online and go through an interview. If you’d like to learn about all the details, check them out here.
Switch Out the Phone
Instead of being hit with fees on your cell phone’s international calling plan, you should think about switching to a new phone when you get to your destination. Depending on where you’re going (and how long you’re staying), you may be able to purchase a local cell phone and either stock it with minutes or purchase a domestic plan.
If you’re bouncing around between different countries (or continents), this may not be a realistic option for you. And if you can’t fathom being separated from your current cellphone, check out these tips for using your smartphone overseas.
Don’t Get Robbed
This may seem like an obvious one, but you should avoid (or at least be wary of) wearing conspicuous clothing or jewelry when travelling. When in doubt, don’t look like a tourist. This is easier said than done in certain countries and cultures, but taking the time to research your destination’s dress code could be the difference of you getting pickpocketed or not. You should also be travelling with a buddy, which typically makes you less of a target.
Do you have any tips for international travel? Let us know in the comments below!
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