Traveling internationally is exciting, but a little scary at the same time. Foreign language, foreign food, and a foreign culture are all things to consider when traveling to another country. Fortunately, I have partnered with some other expert travel writers to bring you this list of great advice on traveling internationally. So, grab your passport and get ready for adventure.
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Access Your Funds
“I always have a contingency plan set up whenever I travel, especially abroad,” says Yamy. Yamy is the creator of Gofamgo.com, a multi-generational family travel blog where she chronicles her family’s adventures. “One of the useful things to know when things go awry is how to access an emergency fund,” Yamy explains. “I have an emergency stash of cash in a safe place on my person, in case of lost luggage or theft.” Being prepared is always a good idea, but even more so when you are far from home.
“You will get the most bang for your buck if you do not try to convert one currency to another in a bank or one of those stands at the airport,” shares Tiffany at Mommy And Me Travels. She says that instead you can “withdraw money with your debt card from an ATM. The currency conversion rate is usually much better because there is no fee involved as there is when you use a bank to change money.”
“Call your bank and let them know that you are going out of the country so they don’t freeze your cards,” instructs Annette. Annette shares family friendly recipes, traveling tips, parenting tips and product reviews on her website Tips From A Typical Mom. Another great tip on traveling internationally from Regina at Full-Time Field Trip is to “find out what your daily withdraw limit is and decide if you need to increase it.” It certainly is important to have access to your funds when you travel internationally.
Learn a Few Phrases
Shannan at Captivating Compass blogs about learning on location using the world as your textbook. She tells us to “learn a few phrases.” Because, Shannan says, “knowing ‘thank you’ and ‘please’, in the local language is a minimum.” You should definitely “improve your language skills before you go, and then try them out in-country,” she recommends.
“Watch some YouTube videos to learn the basics of the language,” Deb at World Wise Kid says. “Choose a ‘word of the day’ that you all learn and practice to keep your language skills developing. Ask the locals for help with pronunciation.” Furthermore, Deb says to “smile and greet people. Allow serendipitous encounters because they often become the best stories.” Don’t let language be a barrier, let it be a learning experience.
“Get travel insurance,” instructs Shannan. “Without question, you need travel insurance. An accident or illness in a foreign country can be complicated, stressful and expensive. Good travel insurance is worth every penny just for the peace of mind.” Kids get hurt and sick frequently, therefore, I couldn’t agree more with Shannan. Keeping our kids healthy and safe is always top priority, so Overseas Insurance coverage is worth it.
Bringing Medication When Traveling Internationally
Many people have prescriptions for medications that they take regularly. This can be a problem when traveling internationally. Melissa is the main writer at Disabled Disney where she writes about traveling with disabilities. She recommends that you “check if you need a physician statement about your medications. You can use http://www.incb.org/ to check for guidelines on controlled substances if you are taking any.” Melissa tells us that you should “also take your original prescription bottle with you,” due to the fact that you can prove it is yours.
Another important recommendation from Melissa is to keep your medications with you. “The horrible truth is, luggage gets delayed, lost, and even stolen. If you keep your medications with you, it’s less likely you’ll encounter these problems while traveling.” This is so true Melissa. Medications could possibly be the hardest thing to replace while traveling internationally. So, in addition to Melissa’s advice, I would say that you should also make sure you have enough to last the entire trip. This might mean a visit to your doctor, so be sure to schedule accordingly.
Safety is probably the most important concern for parents. When you’re traveling internationally, safety is something you need to consider. “Adjusting to different safety standards (if any at all) can be challenging,” says Kirsty at World For a Girl. “You always need to be aware of potential dangers. From dodgy playpark equipment to street stands with flaming grills or even open sewers, keeping an eye on toddlers and younger children can be hard work. Try carrying toddlers in child carriers as a way of keeping them safe and speak openly to older children about any dangers.” Making your children aware of potential dangers will help them stay safe when you’re in another country.
Bring a Map
Sarah at Dandelion Seeds tells us that “one of the most important things (when traveling internationally) is to bring an old-fashioned paper map of the area. Particularly when I didn’t speak any of the local languages. True, GPS works nearly everywhere on a mobile device. When it hasn’t, however, I’ve found myself in some sub-optimal situations. A paper map isn’t necessary in areas where someone is likely to speak your language, but pointing at a map is a wonderful universal ‘language’ -and a great safety net.”
Traveling Internationally Close to Home
Traveling internationally doesn’t have to mean going far. Kris at Gadsventure says “when traveling internationally, I always try to plan a trip based on short flights. Not only is it cheaper when traveling with a large family, but it also takes a lot of the stress of flying away.” Not to mention that if you have kids under two, like Kris does, they will be on your lap for the whole flight! “The flights around Asia are only between 1.5-3 hours in length, so we don’t have to be cooped up in planes for too long at all. This still maintains excitement levels high with the kids!” I agree Kris, we don’t like to drive more than three hours with our kids.
“Culture shock can affect children as much or more than adults,” warns Kirsty. “Children like routine and rhythm in their lives. They might find the sights, smells and sounds of new places unsettling. Try to empathize with them, acknowledge the things that might worry them. Give them time and space to adjust to their new surroundings. Bring familiar toys and sometimes spend more money to go to a restaurant or playground that reminds them of home.”
It is important to be respectful of the rules and customs in the country you are visiting. Research what these my be before you go and learn from the locals once you arrive. Doing this will enhance your travel experience because people will notice your efforts and be willing to help you more. Knowing what to expect before traveling internationally can be the difference between a great family vacation and a bad one.
Use Electronics When Traveling Internationally
Nikki at Yorkshire Wonders recommends choosing “a flight with seat-back entertainment” because she says it “is a lifesaver when you have kids!” Nikki also says that “when we do shorter flights to Europe I make sure the kids have their tablets fully charged and a movie downloaded. When they have watched their own movie, they can then swap tablets and watch the other one’s movie!” Sometimes a little screen time can be a big help. Our son keeps his tablet stocked with e-books to read when we travel.
Staying connected with friends and family is necessary when traveling internationally. “There are a million ways/apps to stay connected and free WiFi all around the world,” says Regina. She has some great recommendations to keep you in communication when you’re traveling internationally. First, “Contact your service provider and ask about short term international plans, they may be more affordable than you thought.” Second, “get a SIM card in the country you’re visiting. FYI, your phone must be unlocked for this. While we may pay a bit more in the airport or bus station, it’s worth it to have what we need to help us navigate to our next location.” Lastly, “for talking to anyone from taxi drivers to friends back home, we like WhatsApp. Viber is great when you need to make a call, like to your credit card company or airline, for example.”
Paperwork for Traveling Internationally
“In theory, all you need to travel is your passport,” says Regina at Full Time Field Trip. However, not every place is the same when it comes to travel. “In certain places, and for certain types of visas, you may also need birth certificates and a marriage license,” Regina advises. Here are some more great tips from Regina:
- Keep your documents safe in a waterproof, RFID protective case.
- Keep a hard copy of your documents somewhere in your luggage.
- Have a digital copy on your phone. Preferably somewhere that doesn’t require internet access to retrieve, like your notes.
- Ask a trusted friend or family member back home to keep a digital and hard copy of your documents in case of an emergency.
“Passports take a very long time to get, so you should just get one now,” recommends Annette. “Whether or not you are planning on traveling out of the country, it’s always good to have a passport for you and your family members.” Plus, if you get one, you’re more likely to want to use it to start traveling internationally!
Don’t Over Pack
Packing for a long trip can be overwhelming. Trying to decide what you will need, especially when traveling internationally, can be challenging. Tiffany says “first and foremost, you can purchase almost everything you might need in other countries.” In other words, there is no need to over pack. “The items that you need to ensure you have with you are your passports, insurance cards, and prescription medications. If you land in a country and have these three items, everything else can be located in local stores. You might not know what the brand of diapers is that you are buying, but hey, they still work.” This is great advice Tiffany because it’s easy to forget that most things we really need are available anywhere.
Annette says to “pack a bag that works as a carry on and is roll-able. I packed a carry on, but it was a duffel bag and it was the WORST to hold on to in the custom’s lines.” This is an excellent point Annette. sometimes things can take much longer than expected. It’s always important to be comfortable and make things as easy on yourself as possible.
Now that you’ve read this great advice from experienced travel writers, I hope that you are ready to take the leap and start traveling internationally. Don’t forget to check out the other articles in our Planning a Family Vacation Series:
- 10 Tips For Selecting a Destination
- 8 Ways to Save on Transportation
- 10 tips For Finding the Perfect Accommodations
- 15 Tips For Sightseeing With Kids
- 13 Amazing Packing Tips and Tricks
- 11 Ideas For Eating Cheap
- 9 Ways to Make Road Trips a Breeze