Are you travelling for the first time to international destination? I know that feeling of excitement and fear that comes in your head once you start thinking about the trip… And then every friend and stranger would remind you to remember the famous Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”.But you can be a smart traveller too.All it takes is a little bit of caution and a careful planning to make your trip go as smoothly as possible.Based upon our own experiences, these are the 40 Practical Tips for smart travel :
1. While booking flights always double and triple check everything. Keep enough time intervals between connecting flights for clearing customs and running from arrival to departure. Minimum is to keep 1.5 hours between connecting flights.
2. Understand the time zone difference and read about jet lag and how to avoid it.
3. To avoid jet lag, get plenty of exercise the day before you travel.
4. Adjust your body clock according to the time zone of the country you are visiting.Plan to be on the local time schedule during your flight. e.g., if you’ll arrive during the evening, try to stay awake during your flight so you’ll be able to sleep; conversely, if you’re arriving in the morning, get as much sleep as possible so you’ll be awake and reasonably alert for the day.
5. Check the Embassy or Consulate for information on the country you’ll be visiting: required vaccines, visa requirements, tourist warnings, embassy information and contact number, etc.
6. Make sure your passport is signed and current, and is valid for at least six months AFTER your travel dates.Also don’t forget to fill the emergency contact information on your passport.
7. Check for overseas medical insurance companies and compare their rates and services.Also check what all is covered and how easy they will accept your claim in case of medical emergency.
8. Buy medical travel insurance online or offline through agents only for the dates you are travelling rather than paying a higher price for whole month. Also check if they have “lost passport and baggage” claim- especially if you are on a long trip.
9. Call your credit card issuer bank to inform them that you’ll be out of the country and tell them which countries you’ll be visiting; if not, they’ll likely put a hold on your cards when they begin seeing transactions in Bangkok one day & Bali another.
10. Find out which foreign banks offers lowest ATM charges for getting cash while you’re on your trip.
11. Familiarize yourself with the currency of the countries you’ll be visiting. Get help of Google and don’t think you will figure everything out once you reach the country as you’ll be tired with jet lag & confused seeing different colored notes with many zeros.
12. Look up the money exchange rate before you go. Finding out that one Indian rupee is equal to 183 Indonesian Rupiah… good surprise, but it can be bad too in some countries. Make sure you do your math before you travel to get a sense of where the conversion rate is at.
13. Print several extra copies of your itinerary, making sure to include home country phone number and your visiting hotel address & phone number.Keep one in each piece of luggage, and give one to family members and/or friends so you can be contacted in case of an emergency.Email your itinerary to yourself so you can access it with your Smartphone.
14. Call your local bank and see if they can exchange currency. If yes, get enough to handle your first day’s expenses – taxis, a quick meal etc. Don’t go for big amount, as you will not get the best competitive exchange rate from bank… just around 100$-200$ would be fine to cover for initial expense.
15. Always carry an empty water bottle in your carry-on luggage – we always fill it up from the water fountain after going through airport security. Also we never forget to keep some chewing gums to chew on the airplane to pop our ears.
16. Always make left turns in the security line to get through more quickly.Science proves it !
17. Always carry cell phone power cord in your carry-on luggage. You’re in trouble if the airline loses your bag or if your phone dies between a stopover.
18. Learn local lingo…. At least few basic phrases can do wonders to your trip. Words like: “Thank you” “Hello” “Goodbye” “Excuse me” “sorry” “water” “how much price” and the like, go a long way in making the first impression. Locals will appreciate your willingness to at least try using their language, no matter how horrible you sound.
19. Familiarize yourself with local customs so as to avoid offending anyone like in Bali never step on God offerings they place in the middle of the road while walking; no matter how many times you have to jump.
20. Pack light! If you can’t carry it/roll it by yourself, then you have packed too much! Remember that you’ll probably be taking public transportation, walking a lot, and climbing stairs”.Take a few things which make you comfortable, be it jeans or your favorite shirt.And don’t ever forget waterproof jacket.It’s always better to take more money but less luggage.
21. Pack your dirty shoes in a shower cap on your return flight.
22. Rolled clothing takes up less space than folded clothing.
23. Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag.Don’t be one of those travelers who look like a clown in pajamas because the airline lost your luggage and you have nothing else to wear.
24. Road Test: Take your packed luggage for a test run.Take it out the front door, try handling up/down stairs and if you’re smart, take a ride on public transport.If you feel comfortable in handling it, you can call yourself smart traveler. If not, you know what to throw. Also road test your clothing and especially your footwear before you go.You don’t want to discover in a new country that your new shoes are biting your feet.
25. There are pharmacies overseas.Go light on shampoo and toiletries – you can always buy it there! If you have a particular shampoo or cream you can’t live without, transfer it to small (~3.4 oz or less) bottles. Some airlines don’t allow bigger family size bottles of medicines or toiletries.
26. Make sure you carry a small med kit – prescriptions, vitamins, band aids, aspirin, ibuprofen, Crocin, skin cream, anti-allergy tablets, anti-diarrheal tablets, mosquito repellent creams, tweezers, and some pain killers & bandage. Locate a pharmacy when you arrive, and pick up anything that’s too bulky or large to pack.
27. Carry your prescription medicines in their original containers with your original prescriptions and make sure those bottles are clearly labeled. Make sure any medicines, valuables, and a day’s worth of clothing are in your carry-on bag.
28. Your electric and mobile appliances will likely work overseas (check to see that they’re marked 110/220 volts), but you will need adapter plugs. Countries have different size plugs and voltage.
29. Don’t worry about the international roaming charges on your phone… smart thing is to buy a cheap local sim card once you land up overseas. You can save much more money this way rather than talking on high international roaming charges. Consider using Skype; if you have an iPad Touch or iPhone, Skype works well and is inexpensive.
30. Make multiple photocopies of all important documents and put them in each luggage you are carrying with you… Bring copies of your passport. If your passport gets stolen or lost you want to be sure that you can still get back into the country, or be able to prove your citizenship. For extra backup, leave a copy of your passport at home or with someone you trust. Consider making an electronic copy you can store in your email account as well.
31. Register with your embassy. If there’s a problem in the country, this will make it easier for your government to contact you and get you to safety.
32. Some countries require an International Driver’s Permit if you’re planning to hire a car or bike to drive it yourself. Otherwise just forget it & rent a car. It’s easy than driving on unknown roads.
33. When in Rome, Do as Romans do… Keep your expectations low and your sense of adventure high.Prepare for culture shock. Don’t think you will get everything same as you get in your home country.Be open and ready to learn.You are going to interact with people who may have a dramatically different approach to life than you do, eat food that has funny names, and deal with problems in different way.Be cool, be calm, and keep in mind that you are fortunate enough to do something that many, many people will never have the chance to do.
34. Don’t be a Guide Book Worm.Have a general plan for what you want to see, being aware of schedules for closings of key attractions and places. A good guide-book will help tremendously in this regard. Then be willing to adjust the plan if something looks interesting. But don’t blindly follow everything that’s written in guidebooks. Don’t walk everywhere reading your guidebook; instead be open to try new things and places. Taste new foods and trust new people. Embrace the unknown; eat like the locals do.
35. The best advice i got on my first trip overseas? “Remember, there YOU’RE the foreigner. Things WILL work differently, and never expect they’ll work like at home.” Be cool, and be flexible; embrace your inner adventurer.
36. To avoid being the target of crime, don’t wear conspicuous clothing, expensive jewelry, or flash a lot of cash. Also, don’t wander around with maps hanging out of your pockets with a confused look on your face. Act as though you’ve done this 50 times, and move with confidence. Be especially wary of crowded tourist areas, in particular train stations, or when boarding public transit.
37. Dress Responsibly: there is a clichéd image of Americans traveling abroad: shorts, sneakers, baseball caps, flip-flops, Hard Rock tee shirts, convertible travel pants, and travel vests. I’d suggest that if you don’t want people (including pickpockets) to be able to immediately pick you out of the crowd as an American or an Indian, dress well. In many countries, our casual or even sloppy dress conveys a lack of respect for their culture and traditions. At certain venues, it may even keep you from being admitted.Keep it in mind. Read about local customs and dress before landing up in foreign land.
38. Check the country’s entrance/exit fees. Some countries require travelers to pay in order to enter or leave the country. These fees are not included in the price of your airline ticket, and can range from $25 to $200.
39. Bring snacks and ready to cook foods like Maggie / popcorn / soups etc. Traveling abroad is fun, but eating in a foreign country can be rough at times. Bring small snacks that will fill your stomach until you find that perfect restaurant or food cart.
40. And NEVER ever travel anywhere without a swimsuit.