This post is all about what to pack and prep for your international trips that you don’t usually have to think about for domestic flights!
Outlets are different!
You’ll want to pick up an outlet converter from Amazon/Target/etc. We have this one.
One thing that I would share back with is you will feel a difference with heat when using your hair straighteners/curlers. I find that they warm up hotter, even when on the same setting as back home. So I usually turn down the heat by one or two clicks. Some items also just don’t work well with adapters. I know our steamer short-circuited when we tried to use it international. It was spurting out hot water and then wouldn’t work again. We took it back home and tried it in the states and it never worked so we had to toss it. So some items just won’t work like they do when plugged straight into a socket but getting an adapter will be essential to pack.
Setting Up Your Phone
If you aren’t going to get an international phone plan, you need to ensure that you turn off all cellular usage. Follow these steps to ensure everything is accounted for:
- Go to settings -> cellular data options -> turn off roaming.
- Turn off cellular data
- Turn off personal hot spot
- Turn off push notifications for all apps
- Turn off Fetch New Data for mail app
- To be safe, turn phone into airplane mode as soon as you are international and keep it in airplane mode till back in the states.
You’ll still be able to use your phone on WiFi even when in airplane mode. WiFi will be your only way to look up directions/roam if you don’t purchase an international plan with your cellphone carrier.
Helpful tip: if you look up directions while on WiFi and start the route, your phone has already “downloaded” the route and can continue to get you there even if you lose WiFi and are in airplane mode! It’s the best way to utilize WiFi when in cafes and restaurants to get prepped for what you are dong next on your agenda and how to get there.
If you are going international, you’ll need to get your passport.
You can get info on how to apply for one here. Sometimes it can take up to two months during high volume season so ensure to begin the process early.
Some countries also require specific shots or visas to do vacations to their country. Ensure to double check the requirements for where you are visiting. If you search “do I need shots to visit BLANK?” Google will usually be able to bring you results instantly on what is required for that location.
International Drivers Permit
If you are planning on renting mopeds/car when international to get around, you’ll need an international drivers permit. It’s good in most countries but double check! Some countries won’t accept it but for most tourist destinations, this will suffice to be able to rent a vehicle. We used it when we went to Greece and it was so worth it!
You can get them through AAA. They’re $20 each. You’ll need to bring 2 passport photos with you that they will use to create your permit with so ensure to bring that with or it’ll be another $15 for them to take your photo there.
Other than that you just need to bring your Driver’s License, and fill out a form. You can either download the form from AAA’s website or else they’ll have it there to fill out. You get the permit instantly.
You’ll want to ensure that you have the correct currency for where you’re traveling. For a two-week trip we usually bring 200 worth of cash with us. Most places will be able to take card but lots of tourist spots have pop up souvenir shops and most places like that will mainly just take cash. It can be a hefty fee to get it exchanged when international or when even going to a place that specializes in that. A pro tip is to check with your personal bank, most do it free of charge. Our bank needs 3-5 days to order the funds so plan accordingly.
On the topic of money, ensure that you have a card that doesn’t do international transaction fees. If you are on the lookout for a travel credit card I’d suggest looking into Capital One Venture Card or Bank of America Travel Rewards card. They work very similar to one another. This article does a great job of comparing the two.
Did you know that your health insurance doesn’t work internationally? Meaning if you got hurt when on your trip and needed to get medical attention, you would be uninsured. I know it is a dull topic to talk about but it’s an important one!
You can get hurt pretty easily, especially if you are in a place that you don’t know and you are doing activities/excursions that you don’t do often. We use Allianz. They’re the most well known brand for travel insurance and they do a great job of explaining what type of package you should buy based on what your trip is like. I also like them because they make it really easy to book it. Takes about 3 questions till checkout.
You’re gong international, meaning you’ll be on a plane for a long time. Ensure to pack headphones for that flight. Most airlines carry them onboard so you can purchase a pair but with covid and inventory outages, it’s possible they won’t have them in stock. Ensure to bring headphones that have the original outlet jack.
Get to the airport early for passport check
With you going international, you won’t be able to do check in digitally or by yourself at a kiosk. They’ll need to check that your passport is really you prior to you getting your boarding pass. So even if you aren’t checking in luggage, you’ll still need to wait in that long line to speak with a worker from the airline. Stupid, I know..
But plan accordingly! Those lines can sometimes add up to 45 minutes, especially during covid times of needing to check for the test results as well.
Double check what the regulations are for where you are visiting. Most places need a negative PCR COVID test taken no earlier than 3 days prior to departure. You’ll need to show those results. LOTS of countries also require you to register thru a specific website for that country for contact tracing purposes as well as being vaccinated to enter. Double check all regulations to ensure you don’t get stopped at a airport due to not having the correct information. You’ll need to show your passport, covid test, vaccination card, and registration papers all at the check in countertop to get your boarding pass.
I know international trips can be stressful, and I’m hoping this list helps. Think of them as a check list. Once you’re done, you’re going to be prepped for everything to come your way! If you have any questions or other useful tips that you do to prep for your international trips, share them with us!