Traveling abroad can be an exciting event or a chore, and how you view it depends not only on your attitude, but also on whether your travel is for vacation or for business. Regardless, even a trip you are looking forward to can turn into a nightmare if some things start to unravel. While no one can be prepared for every eventuality, there are some steps you can take to cover the most common inconveniences you may encounter, which can make all the difference between a routine trip being a fun one, or one you want to forget as soon as possible. This list is not exhaustive, but does cover some foreign travel tips that I always employ. Some are common sense, others I learned through experience, but regardless, over time I have often found myself being thankful for having paid attention to these things before starting out on my vacation or business trip.
Some basic tips for overseas travel to improve your travel experience:
1. Make a comprehensive packing list that covers everything you might possibly want to take on a trip. You won’t need all these things on every trip (for instance, you would probably back very differently for a tropical beach vacation than you would for a business trip to London), but by having everything in a single list, you can pick and choose what you need. Your list will likely grow over time as you think of more things that came in useful in different trips, but having everything in one list helps you make sure that you don’t forget anything you need.
2. Carry a simple first aid kit and some basic medicines with you. I have been very glad more than once to have had Tylenol or digestive tablets handy. If you are traveling to the tropics, check with your doctor whether it is advisable to take malaria medicines. If yes, remember to start taking them as recommended. It is also useful to get your doctor to prescribe a course of antibtiotics such as Cipro if you are traveling to developing countries. Has helped me more than once with food-borne stomach ailments.
3. Carry photocopies of all your essential documents in a separate place from your originals. Also scan all these documents (including your passport with any relevant visa pages) and upload them to your email account so you have access to them anywhere there is internet.
4. Make sure your passport is at least six months away from expiry. Many people discover at the airline check-in counter that they are not allowed to board because they are within the 6 month limit. Just having an unexpired passport is not enough these days for many destinations.
5. Take an empty water bottle. You can fill it after you get past the security lines. In some cases, you will not be allowed to carry water into the plane, but you can still fill up once you’re inside. This allows you to stay hydrated better during long flights, which makes your flight more comfortable.
6. Take eye shades with you. I find that putting them on helps me to sleep better during flights. Few airlines give them out these days, so hold on to them if you do get complementary ones from the airline.
7. When you’re in line for check-in, take out your valuables etc from your pockets before you reach the front of the line. Put everything in the side pockets of your carry on. That speeds things up when you pass through security.
8. Use a neck pouch to carry your travel documents and some cash. Keep it tucked underneath your shirt until you need access to your documents. This gives you greater security in crowded environments as well as ready access to your documents.