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Prepare for Your Next Adventure with These International Travel Tips
Whether you’re a first-time international traveler or an experienced globetrotter, it's always beneficial to keep an eye out for the latest tips. As we all get back to traveling internationally, it's important to stay on top of entry restrictions and guidelines in place at our destination points.
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International Travel Tips
If you’re planning an international trip, you're likely on the lookout for travel tips and tricks. There are lots of international travel tips that can help keep your travels as headache-free as possible. A key part of the planning process is determining what kind of experience you want and choosing a destination that correlates with your expectations.
On this page, we will cover questions you can ask yourself before traveling abroad to help you decide on the perfect spot for you and your family or friends. We’ll provide resources for finding out what travel restrictions exist for your destination, advice for first-time international travelers, and the best international travel tips to ensure you have the most stress-free trip possible.
Questions to Ask Before Traveling Abroad
No one wants to travel overseas only to find out that their chosen destination is not what they were expecting. You can avoid this by asking yourself some important questions at the beginning of the planning process.
Some questions to ask before traveling abroad to help you determine the best destinations for you are:
- How many people are going on the trip?
- What is the age range of travelers?
- What is the experience level of the travelers?
- What are the interests and expectations of the travelers?
- Are you interested in taking an adventure trip, a relaxing trip, or a sightseeing trip?
- Do you want to travel solo or with a tour group?
- How important is it for you to feel safe in the destination country?
- How important is it for you to speak the same language as the locals?
- What are the visa requirements of the destination country?
- What are the current COVID restrictions and guidelines?
International Travel Restrictions
Most destinations have documentation requirements and other restrictions for those wanting to enter the country. Standard documentation often includes a passport and visa. Some visas may require proof of your ability to pay for expenses in your destination, proof of your intent to return home after your trip, and more.
Additional essential travel documents COVID-19 has made necessary may include proof of travel medical insurance, proof of vaccination, proof of a negative COVID test taken within a certain timeframe, and more. It’s important to familiarize yourself with your destination’s international travel restrictions far in advance to ensure you have enough time to gather all required documents.
Look at travel restrictions by country to understand the requirements relevant for your trip. There are a few sites that are invaluable resources when it comes to staying up to date on current requirements for your destination. Because things can change quickly, we recommend that you check back frequently.
- For international travel restrictions and documentation requirements, use this interactive map from WorldTrips and our partners at Sherpa.
- For U.S. travel restrictions, general travel restrictions and warnings, and travel health notices, visit the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories page and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travel Health Notices page.
- For country-specific information, visit the U.S. Department of State Country Information page or the CDC COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination page.
- For frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and testing requirements for international travel to the United States, visit the U.S. Department of State Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 Vaccinations and Testing for International Travel page or the CDC International Travel page.
Tips for Traveling Abroad for the First Time
Planning your first overseas trip can be both exciting and a bit overwhelming. Even if you're an experienced world traveler, these tips for traveling abroad for the first time are helpful for everyone.
If this is your first time flying internationally alone, you will want to prepare yourself for what you can expect from a long-haul flight. Some tips for flying internationally, whether it's your first time or not, include:
- Arrive at the airport three hours before your international flight—even if your first flight is domestic. Allow plenty of time for navigating lines, documentation review, passport control, and to get through security.
- Check in online before you get to the airport. Many airlines allow you to check in via their website or app starting 24 hours before your flight and ending anywhere from a few hours to an hour before your departure time. Checking in online will save you time once you arrive at the airport. (Plus, if you’re flying in economy class, you can often choose your seats during the check-in process.)
- Know luggage restrictions and what you can and can’t bring on the flight. This can vary by country and airline, so check your airline’s website before you start packing. You can also review these two charts from Upgraded Points that outline fees and restrictions on popular domestic and international airlines: “Carry-On Luggage Size Chart for 58 Major Airlines” and “Checked Luggage Size Chart and Allowances for 60+ Airlines.”
See TSA restrictions for what you can and cannot pack on flights from, to, and within the U.S. here: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/all
- Have all your documentation at easy access. This will save you from shuffling through your bags at the airport trying to find your passport. Have physical and digital copies of important documentation available just in case.
These travel tips for beginners can be helpful for both first-timers and travelers experienced with overseas travel. Check out these additional resources that may be helpful when traveling internationally:
Remember that travel can come with unexpected and unplanned changes and it's best to adopt a mindset of acceptance. Sometimes, being thrown off your schedule can lead to the most magical parts of your trip.
Things to Prepare Before Traveling Abroad
Once you have chosen your destination and booked your flights, it's a great time to build an international travel checklist for 2023 trips. There are a number of things to prepare before traveling abroad, especially if you are visiting a country that has stringent COVID guidelines or visa requirements. It's best to make an international travel documents checklist to ensure that you have everything you need in a timely manner.
Steps to include on your checklist:
- Pack your passport, visa, or any other required documentation.
- Obtain travel medical insurance and make note of the policy numbers.
- Review TSA guidelines.
- Photograph all documents and upload them to the cloud.
- Upgrade your cellular plan to include international service or make plans to purchase a local SIM card once you reach your destination.
- Consider a travel Wi-Fi hotspot if connectivity is important to you.
- Speak with your doctor about your plans and ensure that you have an adequate supply of any prescriptions or necessary medications.
- Pack your carry-on with care and make sure that you will have what you need in the event of delays, cancellations, or lost luggage.
- Review your clothing needs and create a customized packing list to meet your international travel needs.
- Purchase any electronic device convertors and adaptors that you may need.
- Review the requirements of an international driver's license if you plan to rent a car.
- Register with your home country’s embassy so your government can more easily contact you and get you to safety in an emergency.
- Start researching your destination and create a rough itinerary to keep track of places you want to visit and things you want to do.
International Travel Tips During COVID
As we continue to navigate travel during a pandemic, many travelers are seeking tips for international travel during COVID. Traveling to a foreign country may require a few additional steps these days, but it is not impossible. As you are planning for your departure, you will need to determine the documents needed to travel abroad during COVID, as this can vary from country to country.
Also follow these international travel tips during COVID times to help you navigate the requirements and guidelines wherever you are visiting:
- Review the current entry requirements of your destination and ensure that you are able/willing to comply prior to booking transportation or lodging. Keep track of any changes to the requirements as your departure date nears.
- Receive any vaccines or testing required within the specified timeline.
- Be sure to review mask and social distancing requirements for your international flight as well as at your destination airport.
- Review the quarantine requirements of the country you will be visiting.
- Pack any necessary personal hygiene items such as masks, hand sanitizers, antibacterial wipes, and at-home tests.
Traveling to another country during COVID-19 can be managed just with some research and preparation. International travel can still be an amazing experience!
Best Travel Advice Websites
Some of the best travel advice websites provide unique travel tips to make your trip a success. Here are three such sites that are extremely helpful:
- Fodor’s and TripAdvisor are excellent resources for anyone researching possible destinations for their next overseas trip. The forums offer great insight into travel from members sharing their firsthand experiences.
- The U.S. Department of State travel site provides a wealth of information about areas to avoid, entry requirements, and how to deal with an unexpected emergency while traveling abroad.
- The Rick Steves website is a wonderful place for travelers to visit before traveling. It also offers many group tours that allow first-time travelers and others a bit more structure for their upcoming trip.
You can also explore our list of the “Top 50 Traveling Sites to Prepare for Your Dream Trip.” These sites are broken down by destinations, accommodations, transportation, travel gear and packing, language and culture, budgeting, safety, and travel inspiration for your convenience.
The expert travel tips you’ll find on these websites can help even the most seasoned travelers enjoy their trip with a minimum amount of stress.
Be Sure to Explore These Related Resources:
- 11-Step Planning Guide to Traveling Internationally
- The Best Travel Destinations for Any Kind of Traveler
- Best Places to Travel with Friends
- Interactive Travel Restrictions Map
- What Countries Require Travel Insurance for Entry?
- Should I Get Travel Health Insurance for My Trip Abroad?
- Here's What Travel Advisories Mean for Your International Trip
- Create Your International Travel Packing List
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