When we started talking to people about our extended travel plans, most people thought our unconventional decision was made lightly without much thought to how we would prepare ourselves to live in another country. We cannot stress how far from the truth that is. In fact, we created multiple to-do lists, spread sheets and laundry list of calendar reminders to organize our travel plans for the next several years. To the best of our ability, we used a culmination of our skills and life experiences to create a long-term travel plan that was best for us. Naturally, our ability to research, organize and plan became second nature and prepared us for the journey ahead.
Throughout our conversations, we welcomed an abundance of travel tips and thought it would be helpful to share them. Whether you’re planning to travel for an extended period of time, for spring break or for the weekend, here are a few basic preparation tips to consider before your journey.
Research the country
- Search reliable news publications for the destination you plan to visit.
- Review the US State Department website for country alerts and warnings.
- Identify which documents and immunizations are required through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site and review country-specific and worldwide travel health notices.
- Learn about cultural, legal, health and security issues.
- Find out where you can obtain assistance from US embassies and consulates.
- Enroll in the State Department’s STEP program so the local embassy can assist you.
- Research whether a visa is required to enter a country and the period of stay.
- Stay in the loop by following the social media accounts of the previously mentioned websites to receive the latest news. Twitter is the ideal platform for us which allows us to turn on notifications for real time updates.
Learn the Culture
- Familiarize yourself with common gestures and greetings. While it may be customary in one culture to shake hands or kiss on the cheek, another culture may see this as strange.
- Research the appropriate attire and pack your wardrobe accordingly. When in doubt, always default to modest attire.
- Understand the international protocol and the laws that govern that country. Knowing the rules will minimize any surprises and risk and most importantly, keep you out of jail.
- Bring an adequate supply of perscription medicine if you require it daily. It may be a good idea to keep a copy of your prescription as well just in case you need a refill. You may want to also research the availability of the prescription and the associated costs.
- Contact your insurance provider to inform them of your travels before leaving the country and inquire about your coverage and medical expenses while abroad.
- Look into short-term medical insurance if your provider doesn’t cover your medical expenses.
Keep in Contact
- Research how to make phone calls from the country you are visiting back home.
- Check with your mobile provider to identify international plans that best suit your needs.
- Know the country codes and how to dial them for both you and your loved ones.
- Go old school and buy an international calling card when all else fails. You never know when it will come in handy!
- Email a copy of your travel itinerary, passport and other important documents to a trusted confidant and to yourself in case they become misplaced.
Those are the basics! We’ll keep updating it as I’m sure we’ll think of additional items along the way. Did we miss any travel prep tips? Let us know below in the comments section!