No matter how excited you are for your adventure, there’s no denying that international travel is stressful. From luggage restrictions to visas, it can seem like there are a million details to keep track of before your trip even starts! We’ve put together some pro tips to ease the stress and help you focus on the fun parts of travel.
Pack Light and Pack Right
Nothing weighs you down on your trip more than too much luggage. Packing right is all about finding the balance between having everything you need and being able to travel comfortably.
Pack clothes that are easily layered, allowing you to have the versatility for different weather conditions and occasions while only packing a few items.
Remember, too, that you’ll have the chance to buy basic things, such as toothpaste or shampoo, anywhere you go. To lighten your load, it may be worth just bringing a day or two supply and picking up more in-country.
Packing is also all about staying organized. One of our favorite travel accessories is packing squares. These little suitcase organizers allow you to pack similar items together so that you don’t have to sort through a mass of clothes.
Make Copies of Everything
You don’t want to be left in the dark if something important gets lost or stolen. Have paper and digital copies in a safe location of all important documents including your passport, itinerary, credit cards, and important contact information. We recommend leaving copies with someone back home, as well as storing them digitally so that you can easily access them from anywhere.
Know The Airline Rules
Pay close attention to carry-on rules and restrictions to make sure that you don’t run into trouble at the gate. Rules and restrictions can change almost daily with some airlines, so never assume that things will be exactly the same as last time you flew.
In particular, take care with any items containing lithium-ion batteries, as they will likely need to be packed in your carry-on luggage. Your cell phone is one such item, but battery charging packs, GPS devices, computers, tablets, and even some headlamps contain lithium-ion batteries. As a general rule, if it is rechargeable, you should plan on carrying it with you.
Check airline and customs restrictions for any items you plan on bringing back with you, as well. Some food items or souvenirs containing plant or animal by-products may get flagged at customs when you return to your home country.
Take Care of Your Finances
Few things are worse than finding out your credit card was canceled mid-trip and having no way to access funds.
Always let your bank know that you are traveling, and have multiple ways to access your money while overseas. We recommend carrying cash and backup cards in multiple different places as a buffer against theft.
Get Your Communications Set Up
With how convenient communication has become anymore, it’s easy to take it for granted. When you find yourself in a foreign country with no access to cell service or wifi, though, how will you get in touch with family and friends?
It’s important to figure out the details in advance. We recommend you install and test WhatsApp, an app that lets you message or call anyone over WiFi. We also recommend looking into international coverage on your phone plan. Many plans and carriers have international service that can be activated for a fee. They’re usually not cheap, but can be well worth it for the peace of mind of having reliable communications.
If your trip will take you to a remote location with no cell phone coverage, a satellite messaging device is a worthwhile investment. Even if your guides carry them (all of ours do!), many people prefer to have their own to send updates back home. Our preference for reliability and functionality is the Garmin InReach Explorer or the Garmin InReach SE+.