These last 5 months I have spent more time passing through customs, dealing with visas, hopping on airplanes & other forms of transportation more than any other time in my life! Through this time spent traveling internationally I've definitely learned that there is so much more to traveling than you would think! I wrote this to help you be more informed before your travels and also hopefully prevent you from thinking: "I wish I knew this before leaving".
I wanted to compile a quick list that hopefully can serve as a reference for you before your next international trip and help you to be more prepared. This list will help you to ask yourself the right questions before deciding on a place to visit and also give a few tips for safe travels.
Questions for Consideration:
-Will the place you're going have clean water? If not, plan to bring a refillable water bottle that you could fill up at your hotel or buy big water bottles and transfer to your personal bottles. In Asia especially, so many plastic bottles are thrown away and that's something we didn't consider before going on our trip.
Bring a reusable bottle like this one: https://amzn.to/36rdoU7
Something else to be careful of in places where the water source is questionable is to be cautious regarding fresh fruits and vegetables. Cooked foods are definitely the safest option to avoid a stomach bug.
In places like Koh Samui, Thailand we found that they generally would use only filtered ice in the restaurants and hotels but it really varies from place to place and you should do your research before going.
-Do you need to apply for a visa before your visit? For us, we forgot that we would need a visa for Vietnam! We found out a few days before going and were able to apply online but be very very careful to fill out everything EXACTLY as it is on your passport documents. I forgot to put our middle names and the immigration officers took advantage of that to make some extra money. You have to make sure everything is perfectly in order before visiting another country.
-Is the country you are visiting tropical? If so, remember that there are mosquitoes in tropical places that can carry disease such as dengue fever, malaria and more. Bring mosquito repellant and preferably one without all those nasty chemicals! I love this one: https://amzn.to/2O0GZgR
-Will your chargers work in this country you are visiting? Electrical outlets vary in each country and this is something we almost forgot last minute but quickly were able to find an adaptor that allowed us to use our chargers in all of the 9 different countries we visited!
This is the one we brought with us: https://amzn.to/38H1Aym
-Do you have transportation arranged once you land in the new country? A lot of the times in foreign countries the local taxis can take advantage of the fact that you aren't a local and intentionally take you the "scenic route" in order to add some extra time to the meter. Every time we would be arriving in a new airport I would look on trip advisor for recommended transportation services that would charge a flat rate instead of by the distance traveled.
-Will you be able to use your phone? For us, having access to our phones was something really important since we work online and couldn't risk the hotels not having good WIFI. Pretty much every airport when you land has a place where you can buy a sim card that will work in their country. Generally these cost around $15-30 depending on where your are visiting and how much data you need.
-Do you have money saved for medical emergencies or traveler's insurance? While traveling I had to get my wisdom tooth taken out and also had an incident where I needed to visit a local doctor. There is always the potential to get sick while traveling so it is important to have some money set aside for emergencies or go ahead and purchase traveler's insurance which is only about $50 per person (depends on where you're going and the coverage needed). We purchased ours through https://www.worldnomads.com/ or you can also visit https://www.allianztravelinsurance.com/ to have that peace of mind while in a foreign country.
-How to cope with long flights? During our travels we went on some of the longest flights ever! Some 10+ hours long. Personally, I absolutely love flying...I know, I'm weird. For those that don't love long flights, I would highly recommend leaving room in your budget to get the upgraded seats with more legroom; so worth it! Also, I always do my best to make sure that I'm getting a TON of sleep the night before a long flight that way I have the option to sleep if I want on the plane, but in the case that I don't get comfortable and can't sleep on the plane, then at least I'm not exhausted. I've also found that some form of exercise (walking/stretching/jogging) the day before a flight helps.
Must haves on long flights:
-Sweater or sweatshirt that you can bundle up and sit on for extra comfort on your back
-Ear plugs/headphones (noise cancelling if possible) https://amzn.to/38DLp4Z
-Eye covers (you will sleep like a baby) https://amzn.to/3aITCa0
-Bottle of water https://amzn.to/36rdoU7
-Hydrating face spray/makeup remover
-Disinfecting wipes to wipe down your area!! And I mean buckles, window covers, tray table, tv, that little button you push to put your chair back...EVERYTHING (prevent getting sick)
-Vitamin C packets! Life savers! https://amzn.to/2vl0KJn
Making time to get up and go to the bathroom to freshen up either by removing your makeup or just brushing your teeth and getting more comfortable also really helps make the flights more bare-able. If you get prepared before flying it really makes all the difference in your experience!
I hope this list could help you get prepared for your travels abroad and help answer some questions for consideration :)
Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions or anything to add that could also be helpful for those traveling internationally.