tips to get ready for foreign trip
. Decide beforehand how you will get cash. If you want a little local currency to get you through the first day or so convert your money at a major hometown bank. Airport converting counters carry fees and can be confusing if you do not speak the language. A leftover coin or two is a fun memento, but $40 in leftover dinar? Not so much.
. Do some research to see if most vendors in your destination take U.S. dollars. Either way, you can rely on a debit card and ATMs for the rest. Yes, there are ATM fees, but they are usually less than the foreign transaction fees of many credit cards. These universal MasterCard and Visa ATM locators should prove helpful. If you insist on swiping for your stroopwafels, double check your credit card companys policy on overseas transactions.
Set Your Away Message
. No, not on your work email on your financial life. Let your banking institutions and credit card issuers know where you are going and when. Fraud protection is great, until you learn that your credit card company can not picture you on safari and suspends your card mid trip. Also take a few minutes to photocopy your passport, drivers license, plane tickets, and credit cards, and leave those papers with someone not lucky enough to go with you. You
. Of course you will want to call your friends back in the states to mock them while they sit in their cubicles, but before leaving, call your cell phone service provider to ask whether your model of phone will work in the countries you plan to visit, what the per minute talk charge will be, and whether it makes sense for you to buy the traveler discount plan offered by some carriers. If those numbers still give you sticker shock, opt for a phone c
Rake It In
. Let your house or apartment make money for you while you are away. Even though you think your head will explode if you do not get out of town right this second, someone somewhere is planning a trip to your fair city and looking for a place to crash thats cheaper and more homey than a Marriott. Beyond Craigslist, sites like HomeAway and VRBO facilitate inexpensive short term stays. They have small membership fees, but a years worth of rental oppor
Know the difference between direct and nonstop flights and always opt for the latter
. Unlike nonstops, direct flights can touch down at other airports on the way to their ultimate destinations, says Macon Dunnagan, a baggage handler with US Airways. And while stops are built in to the total travel time, the potential delays they can cause are not.
Make sure you buy your ticket under the exact name that appears on your ID
. It might seem obvious to you that Betsy is a nickname for Elizabeth, but it may not to a skycap, a desk agent, or a security officer?any of whom could ask you to show ID with that name before boarding, says Delta Air Lines public relations rep Katie Connell.
Select your seats ASAP
. If you have a disability and need a premium seat in the bulkhead, tell the agent when you make your reservation rather than at the airport, says David Martin, a Delta passenger-service specialist who creates the airlines policies for customers with disabilities. Other passengers might be able to nab those seats 24 hours before the flight, when they are made available to everyone through the airlines website.
Get to your gateway city as early as you can
. Since delays stack up as the day progresses, its smart to book the first flight you can into a hub [if you have a connecting flight], says Dunnagan.
Double check foreign document requirements
. Some countries?like Chile, Kenya, and India?require a visa for entry others, like South Africa, will not allow entrance unless a travelers passport contains at least two blank, unstamped pages. You need to be aware of such requirements before you make your flight reservations or you could get stuck Stateside, according to a source at the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs. For a complete list of entrance regulations
Set your luggage apart from the pack
. When passengers use ribbons and bows, they can be torn off in the transporting process, says Chris Gossner, a customer-service supervisor with US Airways for more than 20 years. Your best move Buy a suitcase in an unusual color, such as bright blue.
. Freida Burton, a US Airways flight attendant for almost 31 years, carries samples of cosmetics and prescription creams, which she requests from her doctor. Go to walmart.triaddigital.com or freesamplesblog.com for a variety of freebie offers. Or take advantage of Sephora
BYO blanket and disinfecting wipes too
. I hate to say it, but tray tables are rarely cleaned, so wipe them off before you use them, says Sarah Scott, a former US Airways flight attendant. And steer clear of the blankets and pillows. They are only washed when they look dirty.
Pack your electronics in a single layer
. When things are tossed in haphazardly or jumbled together, we spend more time determining what they are [from the X-ray] and have to manually check bags, says Sterling Payne, a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Do your own bag check before you leave
. Keep from getting stalled in security and losing innocent (but sharp) items you forgot were in your bag?hello, nail scissors! If you think through the screening process as you are packing, you will be fine, says Stephanie Carter Naar, a transportation security officer based in Washington, D.C.
Know your airport s code
. Its easy for luggage destination tags to get mixed up at a curbside check in. Learn the three letter airport code for your destination and make sure your skycap labels the bag properly. The codes are not always intuitive (for example, New Orleans s Louis Armstrong Airport is MSY), so check the list at airport-technology.com, especially if your destination has more than one airport.Cities with multiple airports can cause problems if passengers do
Ask about your options
. Stuck with your children at Bostons Logan Airport? An airport employee can direct you to terminal C, where a baggage carousel style slide anchors a play area. Tired of the same old food-court choices? In the Austin, Texas, airport, make a beeline for Salt Lick?it serves up some of the states best barbecue. You can even get through security faster by seeking out additional lines: Airports will often open another line during peak times, so it pays
Exercise caution in duty free shops
. Not everything in duty-free is a bargain, says Janice Mosher, director of the Customer Service Center for U.S. Customs. If you really want that bottle of perfume, find out what it costs in your local department store first And consider the three ounce rule when stocking up on things like alcohol and olive oil.If you are transferring to another domestic flight after clearing customs in the U.S., you will have to put your liquid duty free purchases
Spring for an afternoon in the lounge
. For a fee?usually about $50 a day, which you can pay on the spot?you can take advantage of the snacks, uncrowded bathrooms, and comfy chairs at most airline club lounges, plus you can get help from the clubs dedicated ticket agents. Several times when its looked like I would be stuck somewhere for another day, a club agent has pulled a rabbit out of his hat, says Bill Coffield, an attorney who flies between 50,000 and 100,000 miles a year.
Bring a car seat for your child
. Car seats are not just safer for children, notes Veda Shook, a flight attendant who has been with Alaska Airlines for 16 years.They also help kids stay calmer, since they are used to being in them. Shook suggests investing in a car seat-stroller combination.The seat slides right out of the stroller part, which you can check at the gate, she says.
Corral your in flight necessities
. Blocking the aisle during boarding while you dig for gum, a book, or a snack can delay the entire plane. Dezirae Bridges, a Delta flight attendant for 11 years, suggests packing small must haves in a resealable gallon size bag that you can toss onto the seat while you put away everything else.
Stow your bag near your seat
. Its tempting to toss your suitcase into the first empty space you see, but that slows down deplaning, as passengers who had to stow their bags near the back move downstream to collect their belongings, says Beth Jones (not her real name), a US Airways flight attendant with 34 years under her (safety) belt.
Call for help
. If you have missed a connection, do not stand in line to rebook with a gate agent. Instead, use your cell phone to call the airlines customer-service number (tuck it in your wallet before leaving). You may speak to someone faster, giving you a better shot at a seat on the next flight.
Utilize cell phone lots
. Free parking areas where drivers can wait for the I am here call for 30 minutes or longer have sprung up at more than 50 airports in the last few years. For a complete list of these lots, visit the Airports Council International website at aci-na.org.
Get fed fast
. To have dinner waiting in your hotel room when you arrive, call and order room service from the road. It can save a hungry half hour, says Barbara Talbott, an executive with Four Seasons Hotels in Toronto who flies about 20 times a year.
Dealing With Seat Kickers
. Appeal to the parents sense of empathy, says Caroline Tiger, a coauthor of How to Behave A Guide to Modern Manners for the Socially Challenged. Say,Do you mind asking him to stop kicking my seat? I did love to take a nap. If the child does not stop shortly after your initial plea, kindly ask the adult if she would be willing to switch seats with the child.
Dealing With Talkative Seat Mates
. Grab a book or a magazine and she should get the hint. If she continues talking, says Tiger, tell her, I am sorry?I do not mean to be rude, but I am dying to read this. Another strong signal that you do not want to chat? Headphones.
Getting Around a Sleeping Neighbor
. It may be tempting to climb over her while she is snoozing, but you risk awkwardly straddling her as she wakes up. Instead, give her a gentle pat and say, Excuse me.
Always pack a hat
. In the winter, a knit hat will keep you warm and take up little room. In the summer, a brimmed hat will keep the sun off your face. In either case, it will save you when your straightening iron doesn
What to pack what to leave
. Packing for a trip is infinitely easier when you have just done laundry. we literally mean stuff. A good rule of thumb is to keep your baggage light, keep in mind that you will need to carry things around as you travel and, especially if you are doing outdoor volunteer work, your clothing may look worse for wear by the time you are done. Check the expected climate for your time abroad and pack accordingly. Do not forget to bring any project tools
. In order to be an effective volunteer not to mention enjoy your time abroad you will need to take good care of your health. This means getting any necessary vaccinations (visit one of the links below to learn more about what vaccinations are recommended or required for the country you will be visiting), ensuring that you have medical coverage abroad (including asking if its provided by a volunteer-sending organization, notifying any existing insu
. Speaking of personal safety, while you should have already done your research to learn more about safety and security issues in your region of choice, you should also come up with an emergency exit plan. This can be following the procedures of your volunteer-sending organization (most reputable programs will have them) as well as your home countrys embassy (again, a good reason to register with them) or simply developing your own exit strategy. A
Personal finances abroad
. Its a good idea to carry some local currency with you (you can exchange it at a bank before leaving your home country, exchange upon arrival, or withdraw from a local bank machine, be sure to confirm that your ATM card will work abroad as some countries have different limits for PIN lengths), travelers checks are also a safe option but may be difficult to use in rural areas. Also, most credit cards provide protection against theft, just be sure t
. Before you go, be sure to plot out your own thoughts, goals, and motivations. Spend some time writing down your goals for your volunteer experience what you hope to realistically accomplish, what you'd like to learn and create a list of places you'd like to see, sites you did like to visit, and experiences you did like to take part in. Think of this as your own personal road map.
Get a passport and anything is possible
. Just having a new, shiny passport with its 24 blank pages just waiting to be filled is extremely empowering. Carry it around in your purse with you. Use it as your primary form of identification. When that unbelievable deal for a package deal to Paris pops up, or someone asks you to join them in Timbuktu next week, say yes. Belles with passports often surprise themselves. Now plan your heart out.
Become Familiar with not fluent in the Language
. Beyond just being a form of communication, language is an important component of any culture. Put yourself in the mind of a four year old and learn your verbal manners in a foreign tongue by memorizing how to say these six phrases: Please, thank you, yes sir, no sir, hello, and goodbye. Perhaps order some CDs of local music in your favorite genres. A few language learning CDs are fine, but do not feel the need to go overboard! I have seen it ti
Figure out the exchange rate
. No problem if math is not your thing. Figure out the foreign equivalents of frequently used denominations, so you are not going around trying to pay $20 dollars instead of $2 for a bottle of water. For most of us, knowing the equivalents of $1, $10 and $100 is adequate. Even if you are using a credit card for most purchases while traveling abroad, its important to understand how many zeros equal your price point!
Get ready to plug in
. Determine if you will need a plug adapter and/or a voltage converter. In order to avoid high prices at the airport, purchase ahead of time. (This is similar to having a passport: If you have it, you will travel.)
Understand the local food scene plan ahead of time to stay hydrated and like a good girl scout be prepared
. The stomach of steel that has served you and your epicurean ways well for many years may be in for a big surprise. Natural, yet unfamiliar bacteria can reap havoc on your system. Travel with precautionary over-the-counter medications, and hopefully they will not become your favorite thing you packed.
Cut back on electronic gadgetry Or at least get ready to charge it
. Cellphones, iPods, laptops, Kindles, cameras, GPS devices: The list goes on and on. Especially if moving from place to place during your trip, try leaving the laptop behind unless you absolutely need it for work. Keep cord chaos away by using something like the Callpod Chargepod Six-way Mobile Device Charging System. Or for on-the-go charging consider the Callpod Fueltank UNO Portable Single Device Charger.
Do not learn the hard way what cellphone use overseas will cost
. Call your cellular company and see what options are available for using your phone service in the country you will be traveling to. Renting a phone while you are traveling abroad has recently become both very easy and economical. Maybe even brave it, and consider going out-of-pocket and economical the old fashioned way: Purchase an international calling card to use on those crazy old things called landlines.
Learn what is offensive in your host country
. We all mess up every now and then, and theres no way to learn everything that may be considered offensive in a particular country. But reading a good travel guide about the country you plan to visit for a good overview of things that fall outside the boundaries of acceptable behavior should cover most of it. Gestures considered harmless at home can be very offensive to the citizens of another country.
Put together your flying pharmacy
. Plan to visit the doctor to be sure all regular and precautionary prescriptions and immunizations are up-to-date and filled with adequate supplies. Try to find your old pair of eyeglasses to pack and have on hand just in case current pair is lost or broken, and a copy of your prescription from a current eye exam. And do not forget any regular nutritional supplements! For the sake of convenience perhaps invest in individually packaged daily doses.
Your most important safety decision will be choosing safe accommodations
. Getting on TripAdvisor to read a few reviews and get a sense of price is always a good first step. Ask yourself questions like, Why is this hotel in a different part of town $100 less than this one over in this neighborhood? Get in touch with a friend or a friend of someone you know who is intimately familiar with the place you want to visit. We often receive emails from women wanting to get in touch with a writer of a particular article. We enc
Dress for the destination
. You know we approve of things around here like wearing a scarf a la Grace Kelly or an Audrey Hepburn LBD, but not just for the reasons you think. Some degree of blending in with the locals instantly makes you less vulnerable, keeping away all kinds of unwanted attention. Additionally when you are dressed well and appropriately, you will naturally carry yourself confidently and are much less likely to be directly targeted as a tourist.What is con
Get down tonight keep radar up
. Know your own limits when it comes to consuming alcoholic beverages and know that just the way food calories still count, your tolerance for them does not magically go up just because you are on vacation. When traveling solo, go out in groups when heading into unfamiliar territory, but resist going along with the crowd if you feel your just say no radar go up. Your group of new BFFs may all be lovely people, but possess the common sense of the Lo
Scan all important documents
. Scan or take pictures with your smartphone of your passport and email to yourself. While you are at it, email all confirmation numbers, itineraries and international telephone numbers for any credit cards to yourself as well or organize them in a folder in an internet app such as Gmail. As long as you have that smartphone in your hand, take a picture of your purse and your suitcase. You will probably never need them, but they could come in handy
Bring a travel first aid kit
. ibuprofen (or other pain killer), decongestant, NyQuil, bandages, hydrocortizone cream. You will not believe how often it will come in handy.
Make a List With What You Need
. This is very important make this list early on, so you can add as the time gets closer. You want to take everything you will absolutely need, but you do not want o pack dead weight.Here is how I go about my list. I start with my head and go down each portion of my body, and write down what I need for each section. This way, I am pretty much assured I will remember waaht I need. Of course, there are miscelaneous items I cans associate wiht body pa
Get a passport
. To get a passport, you need a minimum of 2 passport size photos, a birth certificate and 1 other form of identification (preferably that proves your citizenship in your country of origin). If you have a passport, be sure it has at least 6 months left before it expires. Some countries will not issue a visa more with more than 6 months remaining before the expiration date.
Check the visa requirements for your destination
. Countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program do not require citizens of reciprocating countries to pre-arrange a visa, but other countries may require a visa to be in your passport before you arrive.
Check for immunization recommendations
. You may need to begin immunization injections many months in advance. Immunizations are usually optional but recommended for tourist travel in certain parts of the world. For some countries you need no immunizations at all.
Study up on the language
. Memorize the word for name or the phrase for What is your name, as it is one of the first things you will be asked upon every encounter. Learn some polite words like please and thank-you. Mind your body language. Know which hand, head, foot or face gestures might be offensive or misinterpreted.
Find out the international exchange rate by searching for currency converters online
. Some online converters only deal in hard currencies, so if you are going to a country with a soft currency, you will have to search that country with the words currency and conversion or convert For example you could search convert Nepalese rupees to find the rate of that soft currency. Do some calculations and become familiar with what the foreign currency equals in your home currency.
Find out electrical standards by doing an Internet search
. You may need a plug adapter and a converter. Many online sites list the type of plug you need. Things that heat up, such as a hair dryer, may not work correctly on the volts and cycles of a foreign country, even with a converter. Computer batteries and handheld devices may also be affected by electrical conversion.
Research the local atmosphere customs and manners
. Find an English language newspaper online for the country you are traveling to, then start reading about current events a month or so in advance. Familiarize yourself with sensitive issues.
Learn the local dress and customs
. If you are going to a country where most women dress modestly, you may offend someone by wearing a tank top. Men may get stares if they wear short pants, which may be acceptable only for children. In other regions, shorts and no top at all might be normal at a beach or sun bathing location.
Learn what is considered appropriate touch
. Do not offend your host by hugging upon arrival if that is not acceptable. Likewise, be ready for a kiss upon first meeting where that is expected. In some countries it is offensive to touch someones spouse or children, so keep that in mind. Learn the rules of dress, touch, table manners and speech before you go to a foreign country.
Have a communication plan with family and friends at home
. Mobile phone charges can be expensive from foreign countries, and Internet services are not always available. Make a plan with your family for call times. Find out the communication options of your destination before you go.
. Research the weather, terrain and airline weight regulations before you travel. Overpacking for international travel is a mistake many people make. Lighter is better. Take things you like to wear and plan on wearing several times.
Have a good attitude
. Keep your mind open when things seem shocking or taboo. Do not complain about what the locals lack or have too much of. Be an observer of the culture, but not a judge.
Bags with wheels are amazing
. That backpack might seem more agile, but have you ever seen someone trek across an airport with one of those on their back? Nimble does not come to mind. Sciatica, yes. But not nimble
Do not forget your camera charger
. You will go through that battery in a second, esp. when your friends insist on flipping through all of the photos that you just took in order to relive something that happened 5 minutes ago.
Never pack something that you haven
. Otherwise you will find your new shoes too uncomfortable, your new jacket too flimsy, your new underwear too wedgie prone.
Buy that delightfully grotesque souvenir
. even if you do not know who to give it to. Odds are, you will think of someone for whom it would be perfect. Worst-case scenario, you will keep it for yourself. Which is a really great worst case scenario.
Do not go into a McDonald
. I do not care if you are scared and starving McNuggets are NEVER a viable option. If you need fast food, at least hit up a regional chain.
Always ask museum staff for tips
. They will tell you what the best exhibits are, and what you can skip.
Tip your hotel housekeeping staff
. While you can leave it every day on the pillow, most staff is instructed not to move money or personal items, so they might not pick it up. If this is the case, just leave it in a prominent spot when you check out.
. As much as you believe the contrary once you get home you will not remember your tour guides name or the artist whose worked you loved so much or even the city where you stayed Write it down.