12 tips for international travel


Robyn Parets

Robyn Parets

Blog author Robyn Parets

Robyn Parets is a personal finance and business writer based in Boston. A former writer for Investor's Business Daily (IBD) and NerdWallet, Robyn is also the founder and owner of Pretzel Kids, a children's fitness brand and online training course. You can find her on Twitter @RobynParets.

Published December 22, 2015|1 min read

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Holiday travel is part of life for many of us. An overseas trip, however, can add a layer of stress as it entails more time to prepare when you're already overloaded with holiday plans, shopping, and year-end work projects.Before things get too overwhelming, we've compiled a list of our top tips to help you better prepare for your trip.

Money tips for international travel

  • Call your bank and credit card companies to let them know when you'll be away. If you don't do this, your bank may suspend your card for possible suspicious activity.

  • Check to see if you have a credit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees. If you don't already have one, you might consider applying for a new card without these fees as this could save you money. Many credit card companies will mail out cards overnight at no charge, so be sure to ask about this if you're traveling within a week.

  • Take a credit card with a smart chip. Many countries use payment machines that only take cards with smart chips, which are less susceptible to fraud.

  • Get money ahead of time. Although you will likely find an ATM when you land, it's helpful to have money on hand in the proper currency when you arrive.

Passport and safety tips for international travel

  • Make sure your passport is ready to go and that you have included your passport number in your airline ticketing information.

  • Make copies of your passport and pack one copy in your luggage and leave one at home with someone you trust. You can also store an electronic copy. This way if you lose your passport, you can fall back on the copies to prove your citizenship and get back home more easily.

  • Consider enrolling in the SmartTravelerEnrollmentProgram (STEP) through the U.S. Department of State. If you're a U.S. citizen or national, you can enroll your trip with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country you're planning to visit. This will help the embassy reach you in an emergency and you'll also get important information about safety conditions in your destination country.

Packing and airport tips for international travel

  • Ideally, your luggage shouldn't exceed the airline's maximum weight limit so make sure you check on this ahead of time. This way you won't be charged extra. It's also advisable to pack one day's worth of clothes and your medications in a carry-on bag.

  • Check-in for your flight in advance and download the airline app onto your phone. When you arrive to the airport, this will save you the hassle of finding your paper ticket.

Insurance tips for international travel

  • If you're traveling to visit grandma and using airline miles to pay for your flight, you probably don't need travel insurance. But if you're taking a vacation complete with flights, hotels, tours, and more, buying travel insurance is a smart move as certain policies will compensate you if you have to cancel your trip or leave early. Although you won't be eligible for some coverages if you buy insurance within 10 days of your departure date, there are still other policies you can purchase up until the day before you leave. Coverages vary and you can compare apples to apples at InsureMyTrip.com.

  • Call your health insurance provider to see if medical costs are covered in your destination country. Many insurance companies only cover health care in the U.S. and if so, you might want to consider purchasing medical insurance through a travel insurance provider.

  • Pack your trip insurance policy plan information, including your plan number and company contact details. You can also store a copy electronically and leave one at home so you can access it in case you lose the information you brought with you.

You will surely come up with other odds and ends to take care of before you leave, like placing a mail hold and adding a roaming option to your phone plan. But this list should give you a great headstart while saving you a headache.Photo: Jonathan