You have to completely understand how spoiled Americans are… access to water, electricity, internet, medical, phone… basic living arrangements that we take for granted but soooooo many countries have little to no opportunity like we do for these resources. I’m sorry to say but we need to be a little more empathetic to people who do not even have one or two of those things accessible… it’s really not fair.
I’ve become more “open-minded” when jet-setting because you have to improvise certain accommodations to make things work out.
I’ve compiled a list of 12 basic tips for traveling so you can gain access to certain resources for a once-in-a-lifetime journey.
1. Currency Exchange
Obviously, money is the most important resource you can have when traveling. My best tip would to become friends with a local money exchange company – as you continue to utilize their services; they will give you a better rate as a repeat customer. Keep money in multiple parts of your suitcases and bags — you never know when you may get pick-pockets or lose luggage.
I tend to exchange large amounts of money in advance as you cannot rely on credit cards working in other countries.
Experience Travel Tip #1: If you plan on staying in a country for a very long time, you should consider opening a bank account.
Which brings to the next point…
2. Multiple Credit Cards
I have 3 debit cards and 2 credit cards — primarily because you cannot ensure that these cards will work outside of USA> There are many times when my credit card is taken by the ATM so you should have back-ups in case this happens. Contact your credit card company in advance to let them know you will be traveling…I prefer American Express but you should use a major bank so it is easier when swiping in multiple countries.
Which brings to my next point on why credit cards are important…
3. Google Flights or SkyScanner
Book your plane tickets on Google Flights or Skyscanner using a credit card. If there is a natural disaster (volcano, hurricane— I’m not joking btw) – you can dispute the charges with your credit card company. American Express takes care of ALL of this for me.. there have been times when I went to the airport at the wrong time, luggage was lost or missed connecting flight… it was very easy to dispute with the credit card company to handle the support.
Search different travel websites for best rates when flying – adjust search results by one or two days to see if there is a better price. I prefer international hubs like South Korea, Australia, Vietnam or major cities in the USA when I travel… Delta & Avianca are my primary airlines to use — best customer service – just a fact.
Experienced Travel Tip #2: Take screenshots of your flight details in case you do not have internet access or lose you printed ticket.
Experienced Travel Tip #3: Subscribe to text alerts to be notified of travel updates — especially for delays or change of gates.
Experienced Travel Tip #4: Contact in advance, if you require special assistance, they will be willing to give you better seating arrangements or special boarding privileges.
And that leads into the next point…
4. SkyMiles Member
If traveling is going to become a lifestyle for you… you better sign up for multiple memberships to get those points! I’ve reached a certain status with Delta where they now upgrade my seat to first class (if available) and pre-boarding arrangements because I have special permissions on my profile.
5. Book Using Airbnb
Airbnb has become a charm because it is very easy to search and filter what you are seeking for in housing accommodations. I am more likely able to book with a local family to gain the cultural experience — I steer away from hotels, resorts and hostels.. just personal preference to stay in local family.
When booking your Airbnb: read the reviews, look at the photos and determine if the location is suitable. If there is a discrepancy in payment, location, host arrangements – you can dispute using the help support.
6. Activate Local SIM card (if available)
It is 100% a good idea to buy a local SIM card when traveling — you will have access to data for browsing online, accessing maps and mobile apps. The best option is to immediately purchase the SIM when you arrive at the airport. Check Tripadvisor to determine how much a local price is necessary so you are not ripped off.
When traveling to Cuba, I realized that calling on a telephone costs between $0.40-$0.50 and SIM cards do not exist.. especially for foreigners.
If you can get a SIM, you should. It will help in the long run when trying to navigate around that country.
7. WhatsApp Messaging
Having issues with communicating to friends & family when you are out of the country? No problem — download WhatsApp messaging app on your phone and connect with your friends or family to stay in touch. There is no cost to this international messaging app.
8. Google Maps
Take screenshots of everything — where you are staying, favorite cafe, parks, art museums, local businesses — this is the best way to remember these places (especially if internet is limited).
9. Time Change
Bear in mind that it may be early morning for you.. but super late in your home country. Download a time changing app so you are aware of multiple time zones.. this is extremely efficient if you are a remote worker or frequent traveler.
10. Contact US Embassy
I highly recommend locating government numbers online and downloading to your phone. When arriving, it may be a good idea to check-in with the US Embassy as you never know if you need information on pharmacy / hospital or other resources. I ALWAYS contact the US Embassy in advance.
11. Google Translator
This mobile app will save your life… you can access almost all languages and create complete sentences in seconds. Google translator can hear both sides talk at the same time and translate instantly. It is quite funny to read over the messages that I placed in my records.. lol — good stuff, check out some of my moments using Google Translator during my travels in Central America & Asia.
I saved the best travel tip for last.. do not carry your passport (unless you are changing money). Keep your passport in a secret place in your room where only you will know where it is… take a photo of your passport, send in an email to someone you trust and also keep on your phone / computer.
You really cannot trust anyone when you are traveling so be mindful to never leave your passport out…. American passports are worth $$$$$$…. Just remember how lucky you are to have access in / out of most countries with limited government restrictions (VISAs) etc.
As I continue to travel, I am becoming more intellectual on how to get around — use these 12 basic tips when traveling outside the USA. If you are planning a trip soon, you can check out my blogs from other countries.. you never know what type of advice may impact your entire trip…
What tips do you have when traveling abroad?
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