Friday, 31 January 2020

17 Things To Look Up Before International Travel

Setting aside a couple of hours prior to traveling can save you a lot of stress, time and money. In today's article, I'll be covering 17 things that you should research your destination prior to traveling. 

1. How Will You Be Accessing Your Money While Abroad?

Are credit cards widely accepted? What are the ATM fees? I prefer to use my debit card and withdraw cash from an ATM when I arrive, However, many times I'll find the ATM fees are between $5 and $10, which is going to change how much I'm taking out each time. So, do your research and be informed so you can make a decision that's going to save you from additional fees that you may not need to be paying. 

Read: 35 Things To Do Before Traveling

2. Scams

You can find them in any country in the world, particularly if it's a tourist destination. lookup online, use google. You can find all the information on what common scams are..... Scams may also affect how you choose to withdraw and access your money. When I was in Canggu, Bali last month, credit cards were widely accepted. But credit card theft was a huge problem. Myself, along with three other friends had credit card scammed. I also use the ATM with my debit card, and my debit card was copied. If credit card theft is a problem in the destination that you are traveling to, it may be worth seeing if you can get the foreign currency from a bank at home prior to your trip.

3. Speaking Of Money... Conversion Rates

This could completely change where you decide to travel to. Say I'm going to London. As a Canadian, my money is now worth half as much. But, on the other hand, if you're coming from London, and you're traveling to Canada, or even New Zealand, your money is worth a lot and you can do a lot more with it. I highly recommend you download a free app, XE Currency, so you can help keep tabs on the conversion rate and what you're spending while you're actually in the country. 

4. Check Out The SIM Card And Data Plans Available.

You will likely be leaving your phone on airplane mode unless you want to have hundreds, potentially even thousands, of dollars in roaming charges. So, you will likely be looking if you can get an affordable data plan. Not only should you be looking at how much you should typically pay for these plans so you don't get scammed, but also look if there are any restrictions. Again, when I was in Bali, I signed up for a data plan and I didn't realize that is was only specific to the one area in Bali that I was staying in. This information was not disclosed to me when I was purchasing the plan and I didn't think to ask because in every other country I travel to, the data plan was applicable to the entire country.

5. Vaccinations.

This is not only important to make sure you're keeping yourself healthy, but there are many countries that require you to show proof of specific vaccinations prior to entering. For example, when I traveled to Uganda, I had to show proof of my yellow fever vaccine when I arrived at the airport. 

6. Check Your Visa Requirements And The Visa processing Times.

Do this early. I booked all of my flights to Vietnam and then found out that my visa was going to take 5 days to process and I had to re-book all of my flights. I also encourage you to look into the details of each visa. When I was in this predicament, they gave me an alternative option: Instead of applying for a 3-month visa that was going to take 5 days, they would give me a 1-month visa in a 24-hour turnaround. What they didn't tell me is that, once I arrived in Vietnam, I'll be paying over $100 to get an extension and that the extension process is a total pain in the butt. I'm glad I looked this up because it ended up being cheaper for me to cancel and re-book all of my flights to arrive in Vietnam later than it would've been to get this 1-month visa and extend while I was there.

7. Research Any Travel Warning Or Alerts.

Warnings are generally long, ongoing, say if there's conflict or war in a specific country when alerts are going to be for one-off specific events, say a terrorist attack in London. It's not only important to keep yourself safe but also may affect your travel insurance coverage. 

Read: How to Choose Travel Insurance | What's Covered And What To Look Out For!

8. Before You buy Any Travel Insurance, Check With Your Credit Card, Because You May Already Be Covered.

My credit card gives me 21 days of free coverage. 

9. Check The Requirements For Onward Travel.

If you're flying on a round trip going into the country and then flying back out of the country, you're fine. But, if you're entering the country on a one-way, you often need to show proof that you will be exiting the country. It's doesn't need to be a flight, you can usually just book a bus. Often, the airline will ask you for proof of your exit of the country prior to getting you even board the plane because, if you arrive at that airport and they turn you away, that airline is responsible for flying you back home. If you don't want to book your flight out or bus out far in advance you can also use a service like Best Onward Ticket. It's going to give you a temporary airline ticket that will expire within 20 to 48 hours and this will work for you as proof of onward travel. 

10. Entry And Exit Fees

Many countries around the world will require you to pay an entry fee when you arrive at the airport. For Vietnam, I belives it was $25. They wouldn't accept any other currency. So, if you're not a US citizen, you need to find a way to get US cash prior to boarding your flight.

11. Research The Outlets And The Voltage That's Used.

Yes, you can get an adapter, a universal one or one specific to the country when you arrive. But I think it's always nice to have one with you so you're not stuck in a sticky situation at the airport with a dead phone.  If you do forget or lose your adapter, before you go out and buy a new one, check with your hotel or hostel front desk. 

12. Research Popular Apps For Your Phone And Then Download Then Before You Go.

An example would be, say you use Uber and Lyft in your home country, but, in the destination country, they use Grab as the ridesharing option. When you sign up with Grab, you need to verify your account by getting a text message to your phone number. If your phone is on airplane mode and you can't reach your phone number, you won't be able to verify your account and, while there are ways to get around this, it's just much less of a pain to do it and have it ready before you leave home.

13. Double, Triple Check...

What is legal and what is illegal as well as the penalties associated. They just had marihuana legalized in Canada, but say, if you were in Thailand, they still allow the death penalty for any drug use. Look this stuff up, it's kind of scary. 

14. Can You Safely Drink The Water From The Taps?

From my experience, in most countries you can't, you may want to consider getting one of these nifty little gadgets that are coming out on Amazon that will sterilize the water for you.

One is called LifeStraw and the other is SteriPen. 

15. Road Conditions.

Particularly if you plan to be driving, say you have an international driver's license and you will be driving in the country that you are going to, check what side of the road they drive on. I know personally, I wouldn't be comfortable driving on the left.

16. Check The Up-To-Date Weather Forecast...

One, two days before you leave, and adjust as necessary. Don't assume that because it's summertime it's going to be warm. You want to look up for any anomalies and then be able to pack accordingly. 

17. On The Same Notes, Review Any Local Customs.

You could be disrespecting someone without even realizing it. But you can easily avoid this by just doing a little bit of research in advance, like, How do you, great people? Is it a handshake? A hug? A kiss? Where do you sit at the dinner table? Do you talk at the dinner table? Is eye contact considered rude or appropriate?

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