Continuing the travel tips series, the following are tips for before you leave on an international trip.
Before you leave…
1) Who you gonna call? – These days most people have smart phones that make it much easier when traveling internationally. If you have never been outside of the country with your phone though, it is important to check with your cell phone provider regarding rates and charges outside of your home country. Be sure to ask about both incoming and outgoing calls and text messages, as well as data charges.
2) Print important documents – In the event that your smart phone does not work (which you won’t know until you arrive), be sure to print off any airline, hotel, train, or ferry confirmations that you have booked in advance. Another important document you should have a copy of when traveling internationally is your passport. Keep that copy in a separate location from the original. If you passport is in your hand luggage, put it in your checked luggage. In the event that you loose your passport, having a copy is MUCH better than having nothing at all.
3) Money Money Money – Another international travel tip is how to deal with credit cards and money. First, don’t take too many credit or debit cards with you. One of each will be plenty. Second, be sure to call your bank or credit card company to let them know you will be traveling internationally. Many cards will red flag any unusual activity, especially international purchases. If let them know in advance where you are going, and when you will return, it will prevent them from freezing your account after one purchase.
Finally, know where/when to exchange money. Sometimes your bank can order a specific currency if you request it in advance. There are always exchange places in airports, but they offer the worst exchange rates. There are ATM machines in the arrivals area of every major international airport so you can always take money out there. Either way, be sure to have cash in that currency before you leave the airport.
4) Adaptors? Converters? Huh??? – Different countries have different electrical outlets and electrical voltages. This means that even with an adaptor, which just changes the plug for the socket, the difference in voltage will cause the socket to blow and kill your item. I personally don’t believe in converters and they sell in stores. I don’t think they work. Some items have converters built in (Apple products are known for this) so you are safe with those. Items like electric shavers, phone chargers, and camera chargers are usually fine as long as you attach an adaptor. Items like hair dryers and flat irons however will not work without a converter (again, I don’t think they work).
The best bet is to not pack those items. Make sure the hotel you are staying at has a hair dryer, and if you really can’t live without your flat iron, pick one up for less than $20 at a local drug store when you arrive at your destination.
For more information regarding voltages around the world, check out this site: http://users.telenet.be/worldstandards/electricity.htm
For more on the Travel Tips series, click here.