You’ve finally saved up enough to book your international dream vacation. You’re ecstatic to go, and know that your Facebook or Instagram is about to be filled with pictures from your adventure. However, that doesn’t mean you’re not a little apprehensive about travelling to your destination, and hoping everything goes to plan. Here are 10 tips to help you prepare for overseas travel so you can focus on the fun.
One of the most important things I learned was to keep a good amount of cash on hand. This doesn’t mean you need or should carry all your cash with you. Just make sure you have enough to eat dinner and still have some leftover. Believe it or not, some restaurants, souvenir shops, and coffee shops will only take cash, It’s better to have some on hand rather than finishing your meal and frantically searching for an ATM. Thankfully, you can usually find an ATM on streets full of vendors, however, it will make life a little easier if you keep some on you already.
Europe is ahead in the credit card transaction game. Not a lot of countries have the strip option for credit cards anymore and some even prefer you use the quick pay option. So, make sure your card has a chip, and if you can, set up quick pay on your smartphone or smart watch. <link on quick pay and credit cards>
SMALL CITIES, BIG PAY-OFF
Big cities and toursity destinations are wonderful, however, if you want to experience the culture without the hustle and bustle of a big city, look into visiting smaller locations. With a quick Google search, you can find thousands of small cities full of culture, good food, and experiences. As long as you have clear transportation (whether train, bus, or driving) to the location, you’ll be fine and will probably get a better experience than staying all week in a big city. Caution: before you book your hotel, hostel, or Airbnb, make sure you have the property’s phone number because not all small cities are as clearly mapped out on mobile apps, and it may be hard to find.
TRAINS ARE WONDERFUL (mostly)
Speaking of transportation, trains in Europe are the cheap, easy way to go. However, treat the train station like an airport, especially the larger ones. Give yourself a solid hour before your train leaves station to get there, get settled and watch the schedule billboard. (This looks like a flight schedule board and will have arrivals and departures on it.) To be honest, your train number will most likely change multiple times before it leaves and you may or may not feel panicky. Once your on board though, find your seat, get comfy and listen close. Chances are, the announcements will all be in the country’s language. Know the town you are going to and listen for that. You can also use your phone’s maps app to see where you are and how close you are to your destination. Another thing to keep in mind is to have a small bag of personal items to freshen up quickly after/ on train rides or flights. Also- BEFORE boarding try to use a restroom beforehand because some train restrooms can be small and inconvenient.
LEARN TO FOLD MARIE KONDO STYLE
First of all, if you haven’t seen the Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” you definitely should. It’s awesome. Marie Kondo has a system to help keep you organized, and more importantly, she has developed a way of folding that will help you get more space out of your suitcase. It’s very simple, and once you’ve got it down, you’ll fly through folding. See how she folds clothing items here!
BACK YOURSELF UP
Rule number one of international travel is to scan all your important documents, ie; driver’s license, passport, etc. Keep a copy in a SAFE SPACE with you while you travel and give a copy to someone back home. In case anything crazy were to happen and you somehow lose your passport, you can at least have something to prove that you are you. Now, let’s say something really crazy were to happen and you lose both your passport and your scans of your documents. By giving a copy to someone at home, that you trust will keep it somewhere safe, you have an extra security blanket in case anything were to go awry.
Invest in a (or two) GOOD, reliable portable chargers. As much as the ones from dollar tree might save you and get you back up 10%, they’re not always super trustworthy. You’ll thank yourself later by spending a few extra bucks when your phone is on 2% and your charger is ready to get you back to 100. Pro tip: if you get two chargers, you can keep one in your purse for emergencies or to switch out when one is dead. That way, you’ll always have one fully charged.
SNACKS & WATER
Right off the bat, I just want to point out there is one major difference between Europe and the U.S. 95% of the time, Europe does NOT put ICE in your drinks. To keep yourself cool, freeze a water bottle each night so it’s ready to go. OR you can always use your RE/MAX Peak Yeti to keep ice and your drink cold for hours.
On another note, save yourself and pack a non perishable snack that won’t be disgusting when you finally pull it out a week after you put it in. For example, KIND granola bars are great because they have strong packaging that won’t explode if you sit on your bag, AND Costco usually sells them in bulk for cheap.
You can’t always count on a restroom being around every corner, or even being free. As mentioned above, cash is key. That extra change you thought “meh I won’t need it.” Trust me, you’ll need it. In Budapest, some restrooms require you to pay 100 forints (roughly 34 cents) to use the restroom. Keep your change. Use a restroom when you see one.
No matter your dream destination, your trip will be full of exciting, new adventures. Being prepared for the fun is just as important as being prepared for the worst. So, relax, and take advantage of the special opportunity to see a new place, experience a new culture, and try new things. And if you start to feel a little down, just remember you can’t have high points without a few lows.