How To: International Travel Hacks

We just arrived in Asia for our two week engage-a-moon!  That means the week prior we had some legwork to do in order to prepare for our international travel.  And lucky for you, I decided to post a couple of our international travel hacks!

1. ADD AN INTERNATIONAL DATA PLAN

Before you go, make sure you add at least a small international plan to your cell phone.  Of course the most cost effective way to travel is to only use your phone’s wifi capability, but it is always best to be prepared in case.  You can do this by calling your cell phone provider and letting them know what countries you plan to visit, from there they will suggest the best plan for your trip.  I always purchase the smallest plan, and rely heavily on wifi.

cellular-data cellular-roaming

tip: if you have an iphone, make sure you switch off the cellular data and the voice roaming.

2. CALL YOUR CREDIT CARD PROVIDER

Any reputable credit card provider will notice right away when international charges are applied to an account. And if you don’t call ahead of time to advise of your trip, the card could be flagged and shut off while you travel.  When you call your credit card provider about your plans, take this chance to ask about international charges.  Some credit cards apply a fee to every swipe you make in a foreign country, so you want to be prepared before you rack up too many charges.  Sure, you can pull out cash before you leave (and you should) but you also do not want to be traveling with too much cash if you will be gone for a while.

3. RESEARCH ETIQUETTE

Before you leave for your trip, do a little bit of research.  The best ways to prepare for a culture’s etiquette is to talk to someone who has visited the country before.  For instance, before I traveled to China, my business colleague advised me of a special way to greet others while bowing with a business card in both hands.  Doing this shows a sign of respect for their culture.  There is a plethora of information on the internet about etiquette, for instance I found this below guide on Pinterest!

traveling-thailand

4. PRINT RESERVATIONS

Even if you are one of those completely paperless people (which I normally am), remember that your cell may not always have service, your computer may not always be charged, and sometimes people do not speak your language.  The best way to bridge this gap is to be prepared with confirmed reservations and address of where you need to go.

The easiest way to do this is to sign up for Tripit.com.  TripIt will ask for access to your email inbox, and organize the reservations for you.  From there, you can invite travel partners or even your mom to be a “viewer”.  Once your flights, hotels, and sightseeing tours are booked, you can print your itinerary straight from TripIt with maps included.

international-travel-hacks
Purse necessities when traveling

5. BE PREPARED TO COMMUNICATE IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

Before you go, make a cheat sheet of the important phrases in the language the locals will be speaking.  I like to know:

    • Hello
    • Please

    • Thank You

    • Restroom

When all else fails, there’s an app for that!  I downloaded “Sayhi” before I went to Shenzhen on a business trip last summer.  The only downside is that the app requires wifi or cell service, so you will need to tap into that international plan at some point.

Sayhi-app
Sometimes, you need to order a frozen strawberry daiquiri.

6. BE PREPARED TO CONVERT CURRENCY

Before you leave for your trip, remember to research the conversion rate of the local currency.  I remember the sticker shock of seeing prices in the Euro last summer, and it took me a while to get used to the conversion.  If math is just not your thing, there’s an app for that!  The “Converter” app let’s you select the type of currency, then converts to whatever currency you need to reference.  Super fast and easy, and great for negotiating on the street!

currency-converter

Check back later for packing tips and how to survive on a plane for 18 hours :).  Also make sure you refer to my traveling shoes and airplane style blogs before you head to the airport!
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