I was recently chatting with a friend regarding traveling advice which of course made my mind whirl into motion and I came up with a list of things I’ve learned about traveling abroad over the years. I thought I’d share my list with y’all and I’d be delighted if you’d hop in and add to the list.
Before You Travel:
1. If you’re going to be driving when you’re out of the country, a lot (most?) countries require you to get an international drivers license. This is not difficult at all if you have an American drivers license.
2. Getting a passport is generally quite easy, but it can be a time consuming process. If you need it expedited, it will cost extra, but is quite possible, just make sure you check in with everything and that your dates match up.
3. Not all countries require vaccinations, but some do. Make sure you get your shots at the right time (some shots you need several weeks or even months in advance), and that you keep your vaccination record in your passport so it can be seen when you’re going through customs.
|books packed for my trip to Aruba|
4. I recommend on stocking your body up on Vitamin C before you go as traveling exposes you to a ginormous amount of germs.
5. One of my biggest pieces of advice is “Pack light!” Now of course this depends on the purpose of your visit. I’ve spent many hours in airports lugging around totes of supplies we were taking to the people we were visiting, but, when you’re packing your personal belongings, packing light will most likely not be a decision you regret.
1. Take a blanket or pillow with you. I carry a blanket and a teddy bear tied together with me on literally every trip and have for quite some time. In fact, since I got the blanket when I turned sixteen I’ve only missed having it with me three nights, and those were all during the first year. There is nothing like having a blanket or pillow to curl up with during a long flight or even longer layover. I have slept on many airport floors and chairs using my blanket as a pillow. (I know it sounds gross to sleep on a dirty airport floor, but when traveling 50+ hours with low stamina, I cease to care.)
|my blanket and teddy bear tied together in a hut in Africa|
2. Carry a complete change of clothes in your carry-on. This is helpful in two situations: 1) Your luggage goes missing or 2) Someone sitting next to you in the plane spills their drink or food on you (or worse, gets motion sick).
3. Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off. Now this is totally preference, because I understand some people would rather wear tennis shoes, especially if they’re going to be sprinting toward their gate, but I much prefer flip-flops because you have to take them off while going through security.
4. When the airplane takes off, the pressure can wreck havoc on ears. Chewing gum dramatically (meaning very pronounced) helps the ears pop, as well as yawning a lot. If you don’t do this, you’re likely to have your ears bother you for a while, although this problem doesn’t plague everyone.
5. I like to carry along socks (since I generally wear flip-flops), a sleeping mask, toothbrush, earbuds (some prefer earplugs), books, and snacks on my carry on so I can sleep and read during the flight. (Be advised though, if you pack too many books in your carry-on it creates a dense mass that looks weird on the screen and they’ll ask you to open your bag and they’ll flip through all the books.) I also generally take an empty water bottle with me that I fill up at a water fountain after going through security.
6. Make sure you stay very hydrated while in the air. For some reason it’s quite easy to get dehydrated while flying which is quite unhealthy. It depends on the airlines and the staff, but quite often they’re happy to give you extra water (especially if you’ve been talkative and friendly with them from the beginning). My brother and I asked for the big bottles of water that they serve out of when we flew to and from Asia and they were happy to oblige. (Side note: Caffeine is actually a dehydrator, so don’t chug the pop and coffee.)
7. During long flights it’s good to get up and stretch and walk around every couple of hours.
8. Customs at the airport… Some places aren’t bad, others are a nightmare. You want to be very careful what you take with you because you have to declare it if you have anything such as fruit or raw seeds, even if it’s just in your snack bag. In most cases it’s probably better to either eat it before you arrive (coming and going), or to throw it away before going through the line because the lines can take forever.
9. Keep your passport with you, either on your person or in a secure bag that you know for sure you’ll keep with you. I had a friend who put their passport in their carry on, then the plane was full so the staff asked for people to check their carry ons to be loaded in the luggage compartment of the plane. Needless to say my friend almost didn’t make the flight and the whole plane sat and waited for about 30 minutes as the plane was unloaded to find the carry on and therefore the passport. Yeah…
10. Write the pilot and crew thank you notes, especially if there have been delays or issues and they’re stressed out. It goes a long way.
|while flying to Ghana our 9 hour flight turned into 19 hours on the plane|
When You’re There:
1. If you’re taking electronics, make sure you’ve checked the countries voltage system. Sometimes you need to plug a transformer into your cord before you plug it into an outlet or else it will fry your devise.
2. Turn off your cell phone data. If you don’t, then your phone might connect to data and charge you huge bucks for something as simple as sending a few texts. Happily though, most countries I’ve traveled in have had wifi that I’ve been able to connect my iPhone to in order to accesses iMessaging and internet for free.
3. To avoid jet lag, try to jump into the time zone of the country you’re visiting right away (some people recommend doing this several days before you leave, although I’ve never done that). This means don’t take naps during the day unless completely necessary or unless you normally do at home. Try and eat at the correct times, go to bed at the correct time, and wake up at the correct time. If you do find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night, stay off of electronics as the glow of the screen will confuse your body even more (this is one of those rules I’m not good at following). I’ve heard some people (family included) recommend taking Melationin, which is a natural sleep aid, but I’ve never actually done this. Lavender oil is also helpful as a sleep aid for falling asleep at the right time, despite your body feeling like it’s still the middle of the day.
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What are some of your traveling tips? Are there any huge ones I missed? I’d be delighted to learn from y’all cause I have another big trip coming up next month.