We recently took an international trip from our home in Atlanta to Tokyo, Japan and it was one heck of a thing. We booked the flight a few months in advance and immediately became frantic of all the decisions and preparation to be made.
We watched hours and days of YouTube videos, read reviews, searched hashtags on Instagram, hung out on Google late nights, and practically lived in Tokyo on the internet so we could take full advantage of our trip time.
We weren’t just thinking about what we were going to do when we got there, but what we would do before then to make the there be the most relaxing there it could be so everything would go off without a hitch.
So, what did we do before we went international? What can you do to be prepared for long international trips?
Here are our tips for before you go international.
- Get a Passport. This seems like a no duh but sometimes people forget or apply too late. Do it early, before you ever even begin dreaming of traveling abroad. It’ll make any trip happen at a whim if you already have one handy
- Research, Research, Research. Sometimes magic occurs spontaneously but sometime’s you gotta make that shit happen. Don’t risk it.
- Read the Government Travel Site For Your Destination. Learn about local laws, safety, what you need, and more. Don’t miss anything.
- Read Up On Their Customs & Culture. If you travel all the way across the world and don’t know anything about their culture, how they live their day to day lives, etc, you’re going to look like a disrespectful dummy. Don’t be that American.
- Get Cash. We didn’t want the hassle of exchanging currency at the airport before we flew or when we landed internationally. Travelex is your go to for money exchange. We suggest doing it online a few weeks before your trip. It’s a really easy process and you can even select which day you want it to arrive before your trip. Make sure it’s a day you’re home! They won’t leave it if you’re not there. (Also, they will buy your money back from you when you return to the States but they don’t accept coins so use all of those on your trip!)
- Call Your Banks. Your bank suddenly sees a purchase in China and they’re all “whoa, identity theft!” and shut your card off. That’s the last thing you want happening. Call your Credit Card and Banks ahead of time to let them know the locations and duration of your travel. They will put it on your account and you should be in the clear. You also want to ask about international fees. Some cards have fees for purchases in different countries and some only have fees for cash advances in a foreign land. Find out so you won’t be shocked if yours is one of those with a high international fee on every purchase.
- Call Your Phone Service Provider. Chances are unless you’re chatting up with your peeps in other countries constantly, then you don’t have international data turned on. Call and see how much it is to have if you want it or to ask any other questions. We have Verizon and the way our plan with them works is that we can receive international calls and texts but cannot put out either without turning on and paying for international calling and texting. We chose to leave ours off and just email anyone who called or texted and let them know we were available via email.
- Find a Way to Communicate with Your Loved Ones. Let your family and friends know the best way to communicate with you. If you choose not to have international calling and texting turned on, let your close friends and family know where you are and how to get in touch with you. Click here to learn how we stayed in touch with our loved ones and our company without running our phone bill up.
- Get the Internet. Research to confirm that the airport you’re landing in has a place to rent Pocket Wifis for an extended period of time. Sometimes the AirBnBs have them for your use but what about between your stays? You may decide you just want to buy your own. We rented from the Handea Airport.
- Pack light. You know when you go to Vegas and you pack two bags of shiny clothes and designer shoes for the club? Well, traveling internationally is totally different. You don’t want to be bogged down with your luggage ever. Even just getting from the airport to your room can be either miserable or incredibly easy and fun. Which do you prefer? They also have lesser weight limits for carry on luggage on international flight so chances are you will have to check what you may think is a smaller piece.
- Buy A Battery Pack. You will be using your phone and other devices to take photos, gather directions, and more. You may not have time to sit down and charge your devices. Buy a portable battery that lasts for days.
- Research Transportation. You want to know ahead of time how you’re getting from the airport to your room and from your room to your activities so you’ll want to research transportation at your destination. You may have to purchase some sort of rail pass before entering the country or you may be able to fly by the seat of your pants with simpler public transportation like trains and subways. Do they have ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft? Find out!
- Meet People Online. This sounds weird, but do some light stalking of the people there. Go on social media and search the locations and hashtags of places you’re going to and add the people you think you’d vibe with. You can reach out and chances are they are going to be just as excited as you are. They can show you a good time, give you valuable tips, and you can make friends.
- Make an itinerary. You may think you’re not that type of person, but once you begin research you’ll want a way to remember all the cool things you want to do so you don’t forget and miss the opportunity to do them. You should also decide dates and times to do them based on their open hours and where you are staying. The last thing you want to do is just have a list of things to do and then have 5 things left to do on your last day but it’s Sunday and they’re not open and you didn’t know so you can’t do it at all (or some other odd ball occurrence like this).
- Print Everything. In that time where you don’t have wifi or international data turned on, you’re going to need your confirmation codes and other paperwork to get you through.
- If you’re traveling to Asia, learn how to eat with chopsticks. Seriously, everywhere we went gave us chopsticks. Schellie is soooooo happy she learned how to eat with them before going. William has known for forever.
- Download Movies For Your Flight. Your flight is going to be long. Download some movies onto your tablet for viewing and get an earphone splitter so you and your travel buddy can watch together.
- Store Your Valuables. Take everything important to you that you couldn’t replace and store it somewhere besides your home. People notice when homes are empty – jus’ sayin’. We have a safety deposit box at our local bank.
- Get Security Cameras. You should have multiple cameras installed in your home that you can check from your cell phone so you can check out your place every morning when you wake up for an easy resting day. Nothing burned down, nothing broke into, etc.
There are sooooo many more things to do in order to prepare for going international but our list is beginning to get lengthy so we’ll cut it here (for now!).