Based in Houston, Texas, GEV is a blog by The GreenEyed Venuist. Her posts explore travel and photography through her green eyes.

15 Things You Need to Remember for your Next International Trip!

Since I will be embarking on another international journey in less than two weeks, I decided it was time for me to start getting my life together. Usually, I would just do things as they came to my mind which never proves to be the best route for me. This time I wanted to have some method to my madness...perhaps this will be the start of a new tradition...organization...(yeah right, it wont last long). 




To begin this new tradition, I will create a list. The purpose of the list is twofold, 1. So I can prepare myself and pack efficiently and 2. To make sure I don't forget anything.....which I inevitably will. Hopefully this time it wont be my toothbrush....I should really start a collection called, Toothbrushes from Around the World. Once, when I was on a business trip in Delaware, I left my hairbrush at home....who does that? A hairbrush is essential grooming tool...and I was there for a conference...one for which I needed to be presentable since I would be networking with big wigs from large corporations..... well arranged hair is definitely necessary in those situations...trust me on that. SMH...that's why I need a list.

At any rate, I figured that since I began travel blogging, readers may be looking for advice on things like this. I'm not an authority, believe me....but this can be a road map for your own preparation and you should make your own list too. I'm not saying this is the best or an exhaustive list of things to do, but this is my list. 

I didn't realize I had a list until I sat down to think about it and then put it on paper. But, I definitely have a systematic way of doing things. 

So here it is...in no particular order, the list of things I typically do to prepare for an international journey.

1. Create a shopping list - I find myself buying things for trips, mostly things I don't need, and  in turn, spending unnecessary money. So instead of wasting money like I do, go thru the stuff you already have and only buy things that you absolutely need. You'll thank me for this. Money saved before your trip is money you can spend during your trip! I'm trying to implement this tip in my own travel life as well.

2. Get a visa if you need it - Dont be like me and wait until the last minute to start the visa process. If there isn't an emabssy in your area for the country you're visiting, you may have to send in the paperwork and payment via snailmail. The processing, etc. could take a couple months. You might also have to spend money to get it expedited or shipped. There are services that you can use too. Personally, I've used a service called US Visa Connection. They come to my office, pick up whatever documents they need for the visa, the fee, their fee and then they bring it back to me in a couple days. I'm lazy like that but it is awesome they they can get it done so quickly and I don't mind spending the extra money to avoid having to go thru the process myself. If you're traveling with friends, your friend can act as a proxy on your behalf to obtain a visa too. That's what I did for Brazil. Al went down to the embassy and they actually handed him the visa on the spot which was surprising bc the site said it would take a couple weeks. So just...make sure to get this handled. I actually keep forgetting to bring my passport to work with me so I can obtain my Turkish visa. Fortunately, I am able to purchase and print it from their site so there's no rush.

3. Make sure your passport is current - Your passport can't be within 6 months of expiring if you're traveling to certain places. Make sure it won't expire before you get back either. You dont want to get stuck in another country. Or maybe you do....



4. Make copies of your passport to take with you and leave one behind - While we're talking about passports, you should make copies of it to take with you. Keep a copy in your suitcase and on your person. I usually leave a copy at home with my itinerary too.

5. Leave a copy of you itinerary where a friend/family member can find it in case of an emergency - Right. Copies of the itinerary with your passport with a friend/family member and a copy for you to take with you. Sometimes you will need the itinerary for addresses to the hotel when you get to your destination. Also, if you have any tours planned, you might need to show the tour guide the docs included in your itinerary. Finally, in the event some ish goes down while you're gone, your family will be able to tell someone where you were staying etc....you get it. 

6. Register on STEP - The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a service that allows US citizens traveling abroad to enroll in the local US Embassy or Consulate. There's also an iPhone app. This site updates you on any travel advisories/warnings. I supposed this also helps with instances where you've lost your passport or something and need to go to the Embassy for assistance. I update my account for every international trip I take.



7. Pick your nail color - I religiously get a mani/pedi before I go on any trip...I can't have my toes and hands looking a mess and neither should you, so set up an appointment for that. I should add another item number for getting your hair done but I think 7 and 8 get the point across. 

8. Make a wax appointment - Similar to #7, personal maintenance is very important especially if you're going to a beach destination. So schedule an appointment with your wax lady. Or, don't forget to shave and pack extra razors. You'll be grateful I reminded you of this lol.

9. Figure out your budget (maybe this should be first) - You need to make sure you have enough money to eat, for transportation, if necessary, and incidentals. Also, if you plan to take any tours or add extras, you'll need money for that. Keep in mind that if you're going to a country that utilizes the euro, the exchange rate kinda sucks. Make yourself a budget and have a little cushion just in case.

10. Exchange money at your bank before you leave - I have exchanged money at a bunch of different places including, IAH, destination airport, etc. I even had one of those special debit cards with the chip in it. However, I have found that your bank may have a better exchange rate. Be sure to call ahead bc most of the branch do not carry foreign currency. In Houston, the downtown location of Chase bank does carry it. Also, I was able to exchange my foreign currency for dollars when I got back.



11. Make sure you have a way to take pics - You're gonna want to remember this trip! You can use your the camera on your phone or a big fancy camera. Either way, you need a device to capture these memories. My phone usually dies quickly when I use it to take pics so I only use it as a back up.

12. Notify your credit card company that you're traveling - If you plan to use your credit or debit card at all, notify the card company so they don't think your card has been stolen when it's being used in Utah one day and Dubrovnik the next, especially if you rarely travel anywhere. They will put a hold on the card so you can't use it - another good reason to carry cash (in a safe place).

13. Add an international plan to your phone and tablet - Before an international vacay, I contact AT&T to add an international talk, text and data plan to my cell phone. Its important to contact them and tell them where you are going so they can add the appropriate plan. Obviously, there are other ways to communicate with those back home but this is the easiest thing for me. I think in total, this only adds about $50 to my plan for the month. Don't forget to cancel the service when you get back. I also have apps like What'sApp, Viber, Tango and Skype that can be used over wifi. I just like to add the international talk and text for my less technologically savvy parents and in case I need to use my phone...I don't want to me charge $10 per min. You can also purchase calling cards or get a cell phone when you arrive to your destination but I prefer to come prepared. Also, I know that my best friend doesn't bother to bring her phone with her when we travel internationally. So, I like for at least one of us to have a working cellular device. It also helps when your cab driver gets lost in Brazil and you need to pull up a map to give him directions O_o

14. Go on TripAdvisor - I like to know what to expect. So, before I even purchase a travel package, I look at reviews for the places recommended to me by my travel agent, Amy. But, my best friend, Elizabeth, always goes onto sites like TripAdvisor to read reviews before the trip and make a list of sights we need to see/things we need to do. So my suggestion is to review your accommodations in advance so you'll know what to expect. It's also good to read the reviews b/c you'll learn of restaurants you need to try or any other things you may not find in the commercial guidebooks. 

15. Take all charging apparati - Now that I'm a blogger I need to make sure I take my iPad, Keyboard, camera, phone and everything I'll need to make awesome blog posts....but just as importantly, I need all charging devices. Usually, all my cords are tangled together in my carry on. But I recently read an article that suggested wrapping cords around binder clips to keep the organized. In keeping with this new tradition of organization I'm definitely going to try that!

There you have it....I'm actually gonna get started on this list now! Only 11 days until I'm airborne! Have a great Monday folks!

8/3/15 Update: TravelZoo just posted a link to their 20 TIps before Traveling Internationally. Our lists have some things in common, and theirs has some things I didn't think of! Make sure to check the TravelZoo list as well. 

**There's no where to go but everywhere...so get going! ~GEV


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