From lining up your passport, visa, insurance and other necessary travel documents to reviewing your airline’s baggage allowances, the best way to help ensure that your time overseas (or simply over borders) goes as smoothly as a plane crossing the pond is to be prepared and informed.
Remember, hurry is your enemy. Take time to enjoy every aspect of the journey. Find peace in the delays, the set-backs. Be hungry for personal growth. Be hungry for more of life.
1. Get Emotionally Prepared
The first thing on your mind should not be packing or reservations, but your preservation. Emotional wellness is crucial. It is essential to have a proactive approach to your well being and your state of mind. As you dive into new worlds, you will be experiencing cultural differences. In the process you will find out some strengths and weaknesses you may not have known you had. Before you go, explore good blogs about the history of the land and people you are about to meet. Getting informed and packing knowledge beforehand allows you to have a deeper experience of your destination. Go humble, slow to speak, quick to listen and ready to learn. Tip: If you are going to stay for a while and find yourself struggling to cope with the transition, consider getting a CSA Assessment (cross-cultural stress test) and coaching sessions from a cross-cultural counselor. Find a therapist in the Global Nomad Guide app (click here to get it).
2. Visas & Passports….Papers Please!
You will need a valid passport if you are traveling internationally. If you don’t have one or if you need to renew your passport, visit your governments website or have experts do it for you by choosing VisaHQ. Depending on your destination, you may also need other documents – a visa being one of them. Tip: Many countries require foreigners’ passports to be valid for another six months beyond the date of entry. Check that yours meets all conditions.
3. Have Proof of Health Insurance
You may be in the greatest health at home, yet when faced with novelty foods (potentially more adventurous than delicious) you will be grateful that you are taking heed of this article. Most health plans in your home country do not cover you when traveling internationally. Print your international insurance card, and take a picture of it so it’s on your smartphone. Give it to someone that isn’t traveling with you, and have your insurance agent’s information so that they can assist you if need be. Click here to view the plans that we recommend. Tip: Many travel insurance policies can be very weak when it comes to medical emergencies while providing significant evacuation coverage. Be certain that you have international health insurance and not just trip insurance. Still need it, buy from us (trip insurance or int'l health plans) click here to discover your best options.
4. Get Lounge Access
If you are traveling through airports, especially international airports, then the ability to use airport club lounges is a wonderful moment of refreshment amidst the chaos of gates and crowds of people. We recommend Priority Pass membership so that you don't have to be the loyal traveler to one airline to get in the clubs, and if there isn't a club then at times there is a restaurant that gives a meal to members. The Hilton Aspire American Express card gives you Priority Pass membership and Hilton Honors Diamond status, among many other bonuses.
5. Know Before You Go
Before you book your trip and in the weeks leading up to your departure, check to see if the State Department has issued any Travel Alerts or if the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued any Travel Health Notices. You may enter your destination country on the State Department’s Learn About Your Destination page and the CDC’s Travelers’ Health for detailed information regarding the area you are visiting, including any required immunizations. Tip: Consult a diagram of the airport and review ground transportation options beforehand so you’ll know where to go when you arrive. Consider downloading a language translation app on your smartphone.
6. Register your Travels with your Government
Sign up for the traveler registration program for your country. Australia has the SmartTraveller, Canada, the Registration of Canadians Abroad, Ireland has the Citizen’s Registration, the United Kingdom has the Registered Traveller Service. The US State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive important information and updates from the U.S. Embassy in your destination country. Enrolling will also make it easier for the government or your family to reach you in an emergency. Tip: It is worth considering this option in case of needing assistance due to a natural disaster. Knowing where to find you can help optimize your government’s response.
7. Line up your Loyalty Programs
If you are embarking on a long trip more than likely you have the opportunity to earn some airline miles, hotel points, car rental rewards and potentially double dip for both at some places. Establish accounts with the airlines you are flying with and before you check-in make sure that your program number is registered with the flight you are about to take (it’s much easier before you go than remembering to do it after you fly). Similarly, register for your car rental and hotel programs before you arrive and give them your number. Create one file with all your loyalty numbers on them so that you can easily keep up with them on your travels. When you are ready to learn the art of leaping to new levels of loyalty and to dive in for bonus points visit FlyerTalk.com. Tip: If you have been saving points for years and still can’t use them, consider exchanging or trading them on Points.com. Learn more about travel hacking with the PointsWise e-book.
8. Pack Smart
Most airlines allow you to check up to two bags free of charge on international flights but this can vary depending on your airline, your frequent flier status and your destination country. So, as always, consult your carrier’s website for details. If you are traveling for educational/charitable work then you may even get an additional checked bag free when you book through our travel desk through our humanitarian organization contract rates. If you need new luggage, why not go ahead and buy it? When traveling overseas, try to avoid bringing hard-to-replace items like expensive jewelry, unnecessary things like extra credit cards or any items that may be restricted by your destination country.While most airlines offer complimentary meals on international flights, check to see what your carrier offers and prepare snacks or even a meal if airplane cuisine doesn’t appeal to you. Tip: Pack all medications, prescription or over-the-counter that you may need during your time abroad in your carry-on – since certain medicines may not be readily available at your destination and you want to make sure yours arrive safely and in good company. It may be worth taking extra in case you decide to stay longer.
9. Security Made Easier: Use the Government Traveler Pre-Screenings
Citizens of Canada, Mexico and the United States of America can use the Global Online Enrollment System (Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS, FAST). Global Entry is also available to citizens of the Netherlands who have enrolled in FLUX and Korean Smart Entry Service members. Citizens of Germany, Panama, and Mexico may also apply for Global Entry. Canadian NEXUS members have Global Entry benefits but are not eligible to join. Global Entry also grants eligibility for the Transportation Security Administration’s Pre✓program, which allows travelers to use designated, faster-moving security lines, leave their belt, shoes and light outerwear on and keep their laptop and 3-1-1 bags in their carry-on.For simplified entry into Germany, use EasyPass. Mexico operates their Viajero Confiable program for their citizens.Tip: If you travel for work, this can be a reimbursable expense. Download the free Mobile Passport app for Canadian and US citizens so that when entering you can fly through, again at no cost to you.
10. Get Re-organized
While sitting at the gate, check for all of your travel documents and get reorganized. You will want to have them handy when you arrive at your destination. Typically, flight attendants will distribute any immigration or customs forms that may be required by your destination country for you to fill out prior to landing. Don’t forget to pack a pen with your book. Tip: Create copies of all of your important travel and financial documents, as well as your itinerary. Keep one set with you separate from the originals and leave the other set with a family member or friend back home – in the event of an emergency or if any of these items are lost during your trip. If you have not created a will, do so before you travel and include it with your documents (click here to create yours if you have not yet).
Bonus: Make sure you have adequate health insurance!!! We will chat with you (WhatsApp/FB Messenger/etc) to answer your questions.