Temperatures are rising, and summer is just around the corner, meaning the travel season is picking up. These next three months are typically the busiest for travel, especially for those traveling internationally.
Whether you're going to Uruguay in South America or Italy in Europe, traveling to a different country is a once-in-a-lifetime experience but may also be stressful to navigate. Planning your trip can be overwhelming, so preparing and knowing what to look out for can help alleviate some of that stress. In this blog, we’ll go over some things that may help you before your next trip.
Prepare Your Documents
As you begin booking your international flights and making hotel arrangements, you may want to ensure your passport date is valid. If you don’t have a passport and are looking to get one, it’s best to start the application process months before your trip. If you already have a passport, double-check the expiration date since some countries, like Thailand and Fiji, require it to be valid for six months following the date of your trip.
Although a photo of your passport is not valid when traveling, taking a picture of the document, including the identification number, may be helpful if you misplace the physical version on your trip and need a replacement.
Transportation and Sleeping Arrangements
International flights tend to be longer than domestic, so picking the right airline and travel time can be important when planning. Booking flights a few months before your expected travel dates can give you a larger selection and sometimes better prices. Most airlines offer reward programs, allowing flyers to rack up points every time they fly, and some even have reward credit cards with point multipliers. With specific airlines, the points you earn from previous trips can be used towards the upcoming flights you book, potentially saving you money.
Whether you are flying domestically or internationally, airports are notorious for their long lines, crowded spaces, and the stressful process of getting where you need to go. Arriving a couple of hours ahead of your scheduled flight can help make the process of flying a little less stressful. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recommends international travelers arrive to the airport at least two to three hours before their flight's departure time. International travel processes are like domestic flights but can include additional steps like verifying passports and visas before boarding a flight.
If you are looking for a potentially smoother and quicker security screening process when getting through the airport, you may want to consider getting TSA PreCheck. TSA PreCheck is a pre-screening membership airline passengers can pay for. PreCheck members can benefit from quicker airport security lines since they are not required to remove their shoes, belts, etc. U.S. Global Entry is a similar program for people flying back to the U.S. from a foreign country, providing expedited entry through customs. This program can be a great way to avoid long lines. Another program that may help travelers quickly move through the airport is an identity verification tool, Clear. The service can help people get through security lines quicker by verifying their identity with an eye scan or fingerprinting. However, all three of these programs require a fee, a pre-screening application, a verification of documents, and sometimes fingerprinting, so it may be better to begin the application process sooner than later.
Once you book your flights, start exploring the different areas you may like to see. You may even want to secure your lodging arrangements in or around those areas for convenience. Guest reviews and travel blogs can be good resources when looking for a place to stay. Since summer is the busiest travel season, hotels may book up quickly. So, it may alleviate some of your travel planning stress to get your reservations booked as soon as possible.
Traveling internationally most likely means you'll be jumping across different time zones. You may want to try adjusting your sleep schedule before your flight. Making these adjustments ahead of your trip can help you adapt to the local time of your destination as quickly as possible and potentially minimize jet lag.
Forms of Payment
Before taking your trip across the pond to another country, predetermine how you will be making purchases. Traditionally, before American banks offered travel credit cards, people would exchange their money for the currency used in the country they travel to. However, several banks now offer travel-friendly credit cards that can be used internationally. A travel-friendly card has the potential to make expenses easier to manage without the stress of carrying cash around while saving you the time of calculating the currency exchange rate. However, you may want to check beforehand what places exclusively accept cash as payment.
Before using your travel credit or debit card, you may want to notify your bank of your international travel plans. Since you will be in a foreign country, your transactions may be mistaken as unauthorized charges and declined to protect your account. Giving a heads-up to your bank can help prevent your account from being frozen while on vacation.
International travel can be a bit more stressful than domestic travel with the additional security measures and learning to navigate a foreign country. Hopefully, some of these tips will be helpful when planning your next international trip.
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