You finally decided to take that vacation in the Western Caribbean island and its your first time visiting a foreign location. Below I touch upon important things to take into account before you leave for vacation. Following these steps will save you from any added headaches. Besides the only decision you should worry about is: Pina Colada or Rum Punch?
Do your Research
When I traveled to Egypt, I did everything I could to first immerse myself on all the places I wished to see. I compiled a list and carefully selected guide books from the bookstore and scrolled through my top sites.
Since I am a history buff, I decided to make my way through the archaeological places first and listed the admission prices to get an idea of how much I would have to spend for tickets. With that list in hand, I went online and research how to snag cheaper tickets and learn the tricks of the trade from other travelers from sites like TripAdvisor and other travel forums.
Next, was to figure out my travel dates. I am more of an off-season traveler to take advantage of the cheaper rates especially for the air flights. It took me about eight months in advance planning for my international trip and I discovered that it was cheaper in October as compared to December. But, that was just the exception.
CheapAir came up with reference points of when to buy your flights. For example, any city in Europe takes about nine months in advance for cheaper flight rates while any city in South America takes three months. Follow up with securing your accommodation whether if you choose to stay at a hotel, B&B or a resort.
If you have not applied for a passport, this is probably the first thing you would want to do because it takes time to process. For U.S. citizens, it takes about four to six weeks to receive it through the mail. I have also read accounts where some people get it as soon as two weeks but taking the chances and winning are far and few.
Passport books cost USD $135 for first time adult applicants and cost $110 for renewals post-expiration. For faster service, prepare to pay USD $60 to ensure it gets to mailing address on time.
Some countries accept U.S. passports cards which are available at USD $55 are considered valid. These countries include Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico.
Once you received your passport, it always a good idea to make two copies. Keep one copy in a secure place at home and the other one with a trusted friend or family member. As an extra step, take a photo as a digital copy using the CamScanner app, which is available on most devices.
Keep in mind that certain countries may request a visa. Upon my research, I discovered that Egypt required a visa permit and obtaining one here would have cost me about USD $200 and because I had no desire to pay that much, I did more investigating. As it turns out, obtaining a visa in Egypt was incredibly easy and cheap. The visa kiosk in Cairo’s airport sells them at only USD $15 upon arrival!
Speaking of permits, if you intend on driving around in a country, you may have to file for an International Driving Permit in advance. Do a web search in advance to save you from unnecessary rental drama.
Dollars & Sense
Consider your spending budget to cover any and every expense: these include your daily dining habits, souvenir shopping, and transportation. Inform your bank and/or credit card company where you’ll be traveling to. Doing so, avoids your card from getting canceled due to “suspicious purchases.”
Research the conversion rate against the dollar and be sure to withdraw enough cash to have on hand. Most international airports have multiple currency conversion kiosks making exchanging convenient for all travelers.
Pack Your Bags
Pack using the type of luggage according your trip needs whether if that comes in a form of backpack or a suitcase. Be sure that whatever you decide to use, make sure it is sturdy and durable. You may want to check out the weather during the time of your stay especially leading up to the month of departure. You don’t want to get surprise and arrive unprepared without the right gear.
Also, be mindful of what you stow in your carry-on bag and ensure that you don’t pack liquids greater than 3.4 ounces. Anything larger should be stowed in your checked luggage.
Depending on what you country you travel to, be sure to ask your physician if you need vaccinations before departing. If you take medications, pack documentation supporting that the physician prescribed them to you.
Ensure to pack enough medications for the duration of your trip and a little extra doesn’t hurt should you accidentally lose a tablet. Stowing them in their original packaging is also a good idea just in case. You may want to ask your physician for a generic version of medication in case you need to be prescribed while abroad.
Going international requires that you will have to buy converters and adapters just to keep your electronics charged. Research if your destination requires it especially in countries abroad. The converter increases or decreases the voltage necessary for your appliance whether if that is a mobile phone or a hair dryer.
Speaking of mobile phones, download any apps that will be helpful for you to use before and during your vacation. I wrote a post on my site recommending the top mobile apps every savvy traveler should have and can be found here.
In terms of internet access, most hotels and resorts offer free Wi-Fi but there are places where you can take advantage of the accessibility. WiFi Free Spot is a great website directory that provides all the places in world where you can stay connected free of charge.
Using these tips and taking the extra steps will ensure that embarking on your trip will be breeze!
Jasmine Feliciano is the author and creator of Thatwomanfromny.com – A blog that is dedicated to sharing budget-friendly travel tips to the modern fashionable traveler. She is also the owner of Stirrybites.com- A site where she bakes and sells gourmet cookies via the Etsy’s shop platform. For more travel money saving tips, visit her blog here.