People travel a lot and this time of the year is perhaps the fullest for all the airports in our country. Some people fly internally while others will go abroad in new places waiting impatiently to let themselves be immersed in the unknown. If you travel overseas, there’s a lot to be done and planned before you board the plane.
When it comes to traveling abroad, most people are unprepared and exposed to unpredictable scenarios. They do not consider the risks such a journey can bring and they assume everything will be fine. On various occasions, I’ve used Chamber Discoveries for some of my trips, as they took care of everything for me and my wife. However, I’m also used to organize trips for my family and the following suggestions will definetly help you when organizing a trip.
In the first part of this article, we provided some straightforward tips to build a travel plan. We discussed in detail what you should be doing before departure and during the big day. Even more, we covered the topic of money and how you should handle your expenses.
Those three topics may seem common sense for most people and they handle them in their own way. However, that’s not all and there are a few other things people should consider when traveling overseas.
Using the phone overseas
You need to make sure your phone company can set up a temporary international plan. To be on the safe side, you will also need a consistent data plan for your trip. You will not only use your phone for emergencies overseas, but also for things such as finding locations, translating various phrases and checking prices, and what not.
If you do not follow this suggestion, you will be hit with the most expensive international rates. There is also an alternative if your phone company plans to rip you off. On several occasions, I bought a cheap phone in the country I’ve traveled to. I also bought individual minute cards since they were much cheaper than what my phone company was offering me. That phone will not go to waste and you can use it in other countries as well, all you need is to buy minute cards from those countries and you are good to go.
Dealing with local culture
We Americans are used to our lifestyle and comforts and we have a lot of liberties. Some countries have a different culture and you can’t just barge in like you’re at home. You should be aware of their cultural norms and avoid drawing attention to yourself. A lot of Americans are somehow arrogant when they travel overseas and they end up becoming a target.
If you plan to visit an Islamic country, you will see that their lifestyle is quite different and it requires some “sacrifices” from your part. You will have to cover your neck and the back of your head with a scarf to be “less indecent”.
As a quick example from my tips in Japan (a wonderful, crazy country that I adore) I can tell you that the tipping norm there is not a joke. There are not used to getting tips and you will be insulting them if you do so. You will be seen as a rude person and treated as such.
Packing properly when traveling overseas
A basic rule of traveling (which my wife still needs to learn) is to pack as lightly as possible. If you carry a lot of stuff and you struggle carrying a lot of luggage, you will become a target. Criminals will spot you easily since you will look like an inexperienced traveler. Not to mention that you are also a small moving target.
When packing your luggage, take only what is necessary and pick multiple-uses items. You will most probably find most of what you need on location so don’t stress about carrying your favorite shampoo or similar items.
You should also think about your luggage and pick something that is durable. Get something that has neutral colors and can be easily recognizable by you without standing out in a crowd when carrying it. Tie a bandana or a handle wrap if you don’t want to confuse it with someone else’s luggage.
Do not pick military style luggage just because they look cool and do not add American flag patches or other symbols on your luggage. You will just draw unwanted attention and local thugs will add you to their target list.
Related reading: How To Build A Travel Bug Out Bag For Voyagers
Some people bring a carry-on and if you do the same make sure it fits under the seat in front of you. There may not be room in the overhead compartment and your carry-on should not leave your side. Airlines have acceptable sizes and they are not always the same, it’s your job to make sure your gear is compliant. Your bag’s ID tag should not be visible and it should be properly concealed. I also recommend adding an ID tag inside your luggage as well. If the ID tag on the luggage is lost or someone rips it off, you can still prove you own that baggage with the inside tag.
If you need specific medication, you should pack a 30-day supply in your carry-on. Also, make sure you have the prescription proof on you at all times.
When it comes to clothing, you should be packing based on the information you get in advance. Pack for the weather at your destination and for the activities you plan on doing. No matter where I go, I always pack an extra change of comfortable clothing.
If you pack a tablet or a laptop, make sure it is charged and easily accessible for inspection at security checkpoints. You should not have on your camera or laptop photos or movies that can be considered pornographic or have religious connotations.
Avoid carrying the following
First of all, you should research on the items that are considered contraband in the country you are traveling to. It’s common sense not to pack them in your luggage. The State Department of each country will provide you with a list on their website with restrictions and various rules you need to follow. You should know by now that the TSA lists the following as restricted items:
- sharp objects
- guns and firearms
- Self-defense items (even a tactical pen can get you in trouble if it stands out)
- explosive and flammable materials and various chemicals
Choosing an airline
When I travel to various countries, I try to pick U.S. airlines whenever possible. They have some of the best records for safety and security, even though the onboard services are not always the best. Also, pick flights with as few connections as possible. When I travel overseas, I stay away from small local airlines and I pick only reputable airlines.
I also try to reserve a seat that is toward the front of the aircraft. I’m doing so because if something happens and the plane is still intact, I will be able to get off the plane quicker. In general, it was established that sitting in the back or midsection seats near emergency exits is recommended. It is believed that people there are more likely to survive a crash than those sitting farther from the exits. However, this is a lottery and very few people actually survived a plane crash.
How about renting a car overseas?
I often choose to reserve my rental car at the same time I make my airline reservation. However, I often discovered that the rates I’m getting on location are much cheaper than those online. Regardless of what your tactic is to make sure you are prepared to drive in the environment you are visiting. In some countries in Asia driving around is a nightmare and you’re better off sticking to local cabs and other ride-sharing services.
There are also some driving restrictions you should figure out and the best way in doing so is contacting the U.S. embassy when you land. They will also tell you if you need an international driving permit in order to operate vehicles.
One thing I strongly recommend is to print out your routes. On a few occasions, my phone or the car GPS had trouble guiding me. Sometimes it was due to poor signals while on a few occasions the GPS didn’t want to synchronize at all. Not to mention that if you print the routes in advance, you will be able to keep a level of safety that is highly recommended. When I visited Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic I had quite a wild ride. The GPS directed me through some sketchy areas because they were the shortest and quickest ways to reach my destination.
Dealing with airport security
This is one of the most annoying and frustrating steps when you travel overseas. You have to be prepared to be thoroughly searched. Make sure you wear shoes that easily slip off and one and wear a belt with a nonmetallic buckle. Avoid jewelry or other metallic accessories if possible. Your laptop and camera should be out of their carrying cases before getting to security.
These may seem like common-sense advice, but these simple steps will save time and make the experience less unpleasant.
Some airports have a security quota that must be met and they will do additional screenings. Around 30 to 35 percent of the passengers going through various airports will be picked for additional screening. If it happens to you, be cooperative and polite if you don’t want to miss your connecting flight.
Make sure your bags are always under control and do not let them out of your sight. Know exactly what you have in your luggage and on your person and be prepared to describe those items to security personnel.
When you board the flight, be kind and courteous to the airline personnel. They are there to help you and provide all the assistance you need. Don’t yell at people because they forgot to bring you peanuts or other complementary items. Acting like a resentful passenger will make things worse for you and everyone else on the plane.
Be aware of your surroundings when traveling overseas and pick your words carefully. Don’t give up too much personal information and avoid speaking out loud. Be discrete and maintain your situational awareness. You never know who is listening or watching.
Taking the time and care to prepare your journey properly will save you money, time and aggravation. You should have a great time enjoying your trip, but you should also make sure you come back home safely.